I find it amazing when I work with some clients how often quotes aren’t followed up. Or they are, but half-heartedly. Or there is no real system or process to ensure they’re tracked.
There are 2 ways to look at this. First, once someone has expressed an interest in your product or service to the degree that they want to know more, that is a good, strong buying-signal. So if you’re considering where your next piece of business will come from, chances are it’s from this category. Category 1s as I flag them in my system.
And so if you’re only going to follow-up one or 2 contacts today, surely it ought to be those you’ve already given details to?
Second, I also work on the basis that you will often have put some time and effort into quoting someone. Admittedly it does depend on what you sell. If you sell a commodity product, you may have put little time in, whereas if you sell some type of tailored consultancy type of service, chances are you will have put considerable time into the exercise. You may have been out to see them for instance. You will then likely have sat down to write them a proposal. Even with a good template, it may still be an hour or so, you’ve devoted to it.
It is reasonable therefore to want some sort of payback on the time you have spent. It is not unreasonable to request a bit of time back from someone you’ve sent a quote to. Enough time for them to say “Yes”, “No”, or “we’re still considering it”.
Keep your methods of contact varied too
You may drop them a note via e-mail and not get a reply. The same may happen to a phone call. But make sure you keep the channels of communication varied too. A couple of e-mails or phone calls, interspersed with a letter perhaps, or a note dropped through LinkedIn. You will find that some people are happier communicating via one method than others. Just the way it is. You could even send them a text if you know them well, and if you consider it appropriate. Not something I ever do, but not a reason why you shouldn’t.
Eventually, you have to let common sense in too. If they’re not responding to any of your messages, and you’ve tried a number of different ways of communicating with them, you have to assume that some or indeed most of your messages are getting through. So, the bad news is that they’re choosing to ignore you. Therefore this almost certainly means you haven’t won the business, well not yet at least. Or they have nothing to tell you yet. Things haven’t moved forward. They’re still waiting to get a few minutes with their boss to discuss it. They still haven’t heard about what budget they’ve been given, they’ve had other priorities in the business.
So while you don’t want to give up, and that’s a good thing, maintaining a constant barrage of communication is hardly likely to help your cause. So back off gradually.
The importance of following up
Apart from the fact already mentioned that these are the best opportunities you have of future business, you also want some feedback about your proposal.
So keep the channels of communication open and look to learn as much as you can from following up any quote or proposal you have put out there. Both those you win and the ones that slip away.
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