How Assessments Shape The Perfect Pitch - Nikkie Achartz



Build and leverage assessments that win sales and capture your value

You spend hours assembling a proposal, then more hours revising it based on feedback from the potential client, only to have the client be unapologetically noncommittal or ghosty. Or, even worse, you get the business only to realize you’ve signed up for a time- and sanity-sucking nightmare.

We’ve all been there. Some of us more times than we’d like to admit. No more. It’s time to take charge—by charging for assessments.

Your time is valuable. Your knowledge is valuable. Your skills are valuable. Why would you give all those things away for free? Or for less than they’re worth? 

The goal of this article is to change your approach, so you never write proposals for free again. Here we go.

The flat-rate fiasco

Show of hands from anyone who has been burned by grossly underestimating a flat-rate project. Everyone, that’s what I thought. It’s perfectly understandable because there are variables that are easy to overlook or hard to anticipate.

  • Wasted time—yours, specifically, when you spend so much of it creating proposals that aren’t accepted or require major overhauls to close the deal 
  • Incomplete or nonexistent input—if you’ve ever heard something like, “We probably should have sent you this earlier …” then you know what I’m talking about
  • Clients behaving badly—being unresponsive, wishy washy, questioning your professional guidance, and/or myriad other ways that impede progress

A strategically crafted assessment delivered for a fee is how you can avoid all that noise and work smarter, not harder.

Benefits of using assessments for client buy-in

My guess is that after you read this section, you’ll say (aloud) “Omg, that makes so much sense.” Because it really does. An assessment is a powerful tool and a great multitasker that can help you achieve several goals at once: 

  • Stop the shop. Lay the groundwork for clients to make a decision. Free assessments don’t motivate action. When a client has to pay a fee, they already have skin in the game and are more likely to transact again. 

Consider offering to apply the fee toward the project if you move forward as additional incentive. Worst case, you don’t get the business but are compensated for the time you spent trying to win it.

  • Take the power position. Charging for an assessment positions you as an authority that commands value. It establishes that you know more than they do and helps mitigate pushback. 

This is your time to shine. Point out all the areas the client didn’t realize are being impacted or are adding to their challenges. And be sure to outline all the resources of time, people, and money required to have the impact they want.

  • Test the waters. When we’re hungry for business, it’s easy to forget that some business just isn’t worth it. When promising new business turns out to be a relentless nightmare of changing direction, habitual unresponsiveness, or just something you constantly dread, you’re left wondering how you could have seen that coming.

Here’s how: a thorough assessment. Use it to test them. Give them pre-work that needs to be delivered prior to your meeting and see how they handle deadlines and how clearly they answer clarifying questions. Observe how they handle constructive feedback that’s counter to their point of view. Dig in to understand whether their problem is really the issue or if it’s symptomatic of something else that would end up costing you way more than you bargained for.

How to deliver effective assessments

One word: live (in person or on a video call). DO NOT email them. It’s not going to sell itself. You need to work your magic. 

If a client reads something that puts them off, they’re more likely to hesitate or lose interest. If you walk them through the content and can address any concerns in real time, you’re far more likely to make the sale. You can email the assessment and proposal after you’ve presented. 

Want help with crafting your next assessment?

Contact me to learn what elements will help you close higher-price proposals.  

Nikkie Achartz,