The Idea

This idea applies to service businesses that generally offer loss-leader proposals or respond to bid requests. If that’s you, you’ve been through the huge waste of time that is bidding for a project and having it go nowhere.

If they don’t have time for a phone call – consider it a red flag.

Choose clients wisely

You should choose your clients wisely – unless you’re just starting out with no portfolio, and even then. A pre-screen interview allows you to ask the tough questions that A) establish you as an expert and organized business B) force them to be upfront about what they value and why

Reason for the call

Start off with the “why”. From there don’t be afraid to get a bit technical or give ballpark estimates. It’s tempting to try to convince yourself that if you only spend 8 more hours on your proposal, their budget will magically increase – it won’t. Or at least on average it won’t, and that means you make a loss on your time on average if you don’t weed out the cheapskates early.

Sample questions

  • Have you ever had a service like this before?
  • What companies have you worked with in the past?
  • How well are your competitors performing?
  • How will you respond to this challenge if you don’t hire an agency?
  • What are the pain points that made you realize you needed this service?
  • How much do you ideally want to spend on this project? (Throw out some average numbers)


  • Ease: Doable
  • Cost: Free
  • Scope: Medium
  • Speed: Instant
  • Reach: Local