After emailing proposals clients often vanish with no feedback..how can I prevent this?
Lots of time clients seem interested in my promotional prodcuts over the phone tell me what will fill there needs I send the email for them to look over and then they are hiding from me...not even telling me what's wrong with it or any questions. How can I better get any type of response?
Lots of good advice here but here is some more points for you to consider
1. What constitute a proposal?
OK, I know this sounds crazy but there are distinct differences between sending a price vs sending a proposal. They are both bids, but they have different aspects.
Sending a price to a client is throwing your hat in the ring hoping your price and product will be a fit.
Proposals on the other hand are a custom made business opportunity document that specifies (or clarifies) client's aims & objective, alternative solutions, Pros-and-Cons of solutions, recommendation for course of action, the benefits of suggested solution, and finally the price which should include extensive explanation of how the price is arrived at. Proposals also have a timescales of delivery and stages of the process including any time critical deliverables from either parties.
2. Finally, you must identify the Compelling Event, which is a drop dead reason with a date for a client that they must make a decision. Compelling events are non-negotiable dates or events that the client has to meet which they cannot avoid or are inevitable, for example a Product Launch Event (an immovable date!), Office Move (you got to move out and into a new office, which is not optional),
3. What happens to a Proposal or Quotation?
In real world here is what happens. Client gets your Quotation, sees the price, thinks “On Budget”, “Over Budget”, “Under Budget” or “You must be kidding!”.
With proposals client has to look for a price specially if you create it cleverly so it is not a price list or price box. You walk the client through his objectives, options, benefits, and why they should choose you, and finally BTW here is the price! Still they think “On Budget”, “Over Budget”, “Under Budget” or “You must be kidding!”.
4. Life Happens
Whilst our bids and proposals are our priority as they are the life line of our business, you must remember spending money is not the top of the client's list. In fact quite the opposite, as businesses will not spend money unless they have a “Compelling Event” coming over the horizon. They get distracted by more urgent business, or they have to attend to other priorities, etc. Their boss could change, budgets could be cut, events could be cancelled, etc.
In our business we are always seeking to identify the “Compelling Event”. If there is no Compelling Event, we consider the bid as low probability bid. We then weight the proposals based on the proximity of the date for the Compelling Event and the risk for the client (loss of reputation, sunk costs, etc.). The closer the date and higher cost of cancellation, the higher the probability of success of any bid (this might not be ours but someone will get the business). This helps us forecast and prioritise our resources and efforts in pushing and chasing a proposal.
In essence not all bids are equal and not all bids are proposals. You need to really sort out the wheat from the chaff, so you focus on the business that is more likely to happen.
I hope this helps.
Hi Marc, how is your sales process going since you last asked this question?
I agree with what others have said. Don't send over your proposal unless the client is serious in doing business with you. Your proposal is the most leverage you have at this point in conversation. It's your secret to how your promotional products can help them. Hope this helps!
I have approached this differently. We are in business of Digital Marketing and raking for many of the High Ranking Keyword in Google search. We get many enquiries and we approach them all. After a quarter I realised that no conversions are happening despite of many leads.
Solution we came up with
1. I sat down and created an XL sheet containing 10 questions, which the client need to provide us the answers for. with this process we would filter the serious clients and the general enquirers.
2. One more this we started doing is on the telephonic conversation we started asking them about the budget they would like to assign for Digital Marketing.
These 2 small activities helped us filter our leads and gave us the idea which clients to focus our energy on.
I think first of all you should have the instinct to recognize the potential clients through his current business setup and past experiences then when you have sent him an email and offered your services already then take follow ups constantly. From here, if he starts ignoring you then its better that you shouldn't waste more time on this customer and spend more time on other prospects.
We need more details: what do you do? Who is your target market? Will you make a proposal and the email content available for us to analyze?
Quick feedbackI - your question has a spelling error, remember to spellcheck because you want to look professional, attention to detail. Yes?
I'll assume that the clients/prospects you are emailing proposals to are geographically out of driving distance for you. Because if a prospect is within reasonable driving distance you should be scheduling a time to get with them in person to present your proposal.
First of all, have you difinitively uncoved a need/pain which requires a solution? if not status quo is your biggest competitor and will win 99% of the time. So I would make sure that the prospect is in the market for you product or service before you even prepare a proposal.
Secondly, if you know they are in the market for your service or product its best to have a brief telephone meeting with them to uncover pain points and needs - as well as buying criteria, who makes the final decision, and what is driving their motivation for change. Then set some timeline guides. For example, you uncovered a prospect. Completed a needs analysis via the phone, understand who and how a decision will be made and by what date.
The bottom line is this: if you set the table properly you can sit down, eat, and finish the dinner....meaning make sure during the First Meeting phone call you have uncovered what they are looking for and why, how this purchase will help their business, who will ultimately decide yes or no, and when they by what date they will have a decision. Then email the proposal. When doing so make sure they understand that you welcome questions or concerns they may have about your proposal and that there may be some wiggle room if need be.
I have had the same experience and inevitably this will happen, though to mitigate the occurrences I have leveraged the information that I learned at a valuable sales training session. The emphasis is on qualifying potential clients before the proposal is sent or even created. They should understand the services, product, pricing, inclusions, exclusions, etc. up front so they don't get 'sticker shock' or have any other expectations that are not met in the proposal. Until you know they have the budget and resources required to successfully execute on your proposal it may not be worth your time to pursue. Good luck!
It's like baseball, you can't hit the ball unless you swing the bat. It's ok to respond to requests for proposal but realize that the positive response rate is low. Manage theses opportunities in you pipeline as such. Just think about it, the prospect asks for a proposal over the phone with no real investment in the discovery/analysis/solution process, similiar to "you get what you pay for". Treat the proposal in these cases as "beginnings" not "ends". Best of luck.
Marc, many potential customers "collect" proposals from multiple vendors for a comparative study before deciding which company to finally go with.
While proposals by themselves don't assure a sale, often a good proposal helps to win half the battle...but the timing of when to send the proposal is critical.
After all, a sale is made when a customer need is changed to a want, well, a want to buy from " you". To do this there needs to be continuity in personal engagement across the sales cycle
A proposal asked and proposal sent promptly closes a transaction without a predictable outcome.
Instead of "sending" details about your products, is it possible book time with customer to personally assist him to undersand your products?
Instead of "quickly" sending a proposal out, could a proposal be sent only at an advanced stage in the sales cycle?
After sending the proposal, can you book time with the prospect to personally take him through your proposal to highlight business benefits that will accrue if they bought your product?
Lastly is your proposal reaching the "MAN"? - A person with the Money; Authority and Need as Xerox corporation would say!
Just my two cents...
Hi Marc, I would never send a proposal via email. Meet with the customers and go over the proposal, then you can handle any objections or considerations right then and there. If you can't meet with the customer face to face, do it over Sykpe. Check out the Sandler sales training, it goes over this and more in detail.
The short answer is this is one of those things over which you have no control. What you do have control over is 1) a clearly deigned marketing campaign that draws the right sort of clients to you (or which ensures you are reaching out to the right clients), 2) the quality of the proposal, which is thoughtfully developed with all the necessary client needs accounted for and 3) a defined limit as to how much time you are going to spend pursuing a losing proposition.
First off ,don't offer to send them a proposal unless they are serious. I know that sounds trite, but you need to qualify the prospect(s)upfront before you even do a pitch of your products. Find out if there is budget, first and foremost, if they have no money then don't waste your time. Is this a need to have or a nice to have? If it's not a need to have, move on. Interest, budget and a defined timeline are key to a properly qualified oppty. Everyone is interested in saving time and money on promotional stuff, but if you don't know that last year they cut all budgeting for them because you didn't ask the question, then where do you go from there? Some people are professional tire kickers. So my advice is ask those questions, is this a budgeted project, do you have a show or campaign coming up where my stuff would help? Provided my stuff's quality, price and timely delivery works for you, when would you most likely move forward? Nail them down first, then show them what you have and then if they are still looking for the proposal then you send it. And lastly, by all means, don't expect a response off of an email, before you even send it over you call up and say. I have your proposal, do you have a few mins to review it with me? If they do, then send it over and start closing the deal. If they don't ask them when would be a good time to review and schedule a call to do so and don't shoot it over to them until you are on the phone with them. Good luck!
Marc - follow up! Make it a phone call to ascertain whether the client received your proposal, then ask them point blank what they thought of it! Then answer any objections with a reassurance that you will make whatever necessary modifications to your proposal in order to accommodate their needs.
I personally would never send a proposal by email. Always present them in person if possible, but at least be on the phone with them when they review it. You need that contact in order to get their immediate reaction to it and to address any objections or confusion that might prevent them from going forward.
Lastly, if they are unwilling to set up a time to discuss the proposal, they aren't that interested anyway.
I would say it doesn’t sound surprising that some prospects reject proposals saying nothing. I know many such examples.
In order to prevent I would propose the following sequence of actions:
1 – You say you have a clear understanding of your clients’ needs after previous negotiations. So just make sure your proposal clear states how your product will fulfill these needs and how it will help your clients. You also need to be sure that your proposal sets a clear value delivered within the price stated. And there should be some call to action or anything that motivates your clients to send a reply back.
2 – If you continue to experience silence instead of replies – follow Eneid’s and Emily’s advice regarding the follow up. Try to call to follow up and schedule a meeting to discuss your proposal in more details.
You should be reasonably persistent in your sales process, constantly monitor feedback and adjust your actions accordingly.
Personally, I'd spend some time on the phone doing postmortems. When I believe I've lost a sale, I start each postmortem conversation with. "Hey, I know we've probably lost the sale, but can you spend a couple minutes of your time on the phone with me to help me make my product / service / company better? I really need some help, and your advice would be invaluable to me." Once the potential customer believes you are no longer pestering them about the potential sale, their demeanor changes and they suddenly start reappearing. People love to help / give advice. If the opportunity is still alive, the costomer will tell you. If the order is dead, you can ask why you lost the sale. Find out what product your potential customer actually bought - then find out why they chose that product. You can then create a sales argument / presentation that makes your product / service the clear choice for that customer type. And - more importantly, you can develop a relationship with your prospect. Just because this opportunity is dead, doesn't mean another is not coming down the pike. People "buy" from people they like. And the key word there is "buy." People LOVE to BUY stuff. They HATE to be SOLD stuff. If a potential customer doesn't know you or your company - they feel like they're being sold. Once they know you and your company - and you understand they're needs / wants - and you offer what they need / want - the transaction becomes "buy." Best of luck! S
I have found that if I send a proposal via email without meeting with the client face to face that is when they hide. To help with this problem I now make sure that I have more than qualified them over the phone and in person before we move forward on a proposal. Do not be afraid to ask what their budget is, if they are evasive they will continue to be evasive. You might want to use a phrase I've used often "so if I came back to you with a proposal that was $10,000 would that work"? Now they will begin to open up on what exactly they are willing to invest in the product you are offering. Hope this helps!
Just a comment.I hope this helps everyone-we are actually writing a proposal now so I have to keep it short. I too have had this happen as well as my business friends. In the analog world, a proposal would have been mailed or handed in person-yes a hand shake was all that sealed the deal.
In today's high speed instant communication world--people feel that they can get back to you anytime increasing the length of time between communications. As well as many other factors as you know.
The difficult part when wooing a possible client is to not seem like a stalker-right?
This is what we do know to increase the odds.
1. Answer any and all communications and inquires ASAP-set the tone for your relationship.
2. Use snail mail for thank yous even on the first inquiry-remember, frequency of quality communications increases the odds.
3. Become a super listener-I mean really try to parse out what pain your solution may solve for your client. Then listen for your possible clients speech words ( key words) to use them back in any proposal. ie: Some people say things like, "I hear you", or "I feel as if", use those examples in the proposal, write, " Listen to this, and " How does this feel to you. Plug into their particular communication channel.
4. Always have someone else read the proposal-any misspelled words or punctuation mistakes could spoil the deal.
5. Write a whitepaper and offer it for free to potential clients.
6. I know this may sound cliche but, would you do business with yourself? This made us rethink our strategy and our positions and has helped us grow when we thought that we were the "experts"
Good luck out there. Gerry Lamanski
The key to not wasting your time on sending proposals that don't get replied to is to ask better qualifying questions on the phone. Typically the questions will relate to the common 4 categories of Need, Timing, Budget, and Decision Process. If he has a true need in the short term, and if the price is right, you'll have a better chance at making progress. Pls let me know if you want more detail related to how to ask those questions.
A thought: Set an "oral contract" with the client/potential client before you send the email. That oral contract goes something like, "I will be glad to get you the information you need. However, I would like your agreement that you will give me a definitive yes or no by date Y that my products and pricing fit your needs. And I want to let you know if am fine with a yes or a no, I just don't want to be left hanging. So, will you give me a definite yes or no by date Y? Great, may we set a time that day to talk?
Will this solve the problem a 100% of the time. No. Will some "buyers" back off when you ask for a commitment? Yes. However, they are probably not serious buyers. So, all in all, this technique will raise the chances of getting a response.