Your prospect wants to know what the timing, costing, and proposed outcomes of your service for them will be. They are often very happy to discuss this in person or via phone with you during the early phase of sales engagement, but will more than likely ask for a written confirmation of the investment and details before agreeing to proceed.
The quoting element of the marketing and sales process is a reasonable request, but does create a bit of a headache for many freelancers in so far as it opens up the time chasm into which their proposal too often disappears. The prospect asked for a quote, and hopefully we acted on that request to provide one expediently… but then… NOTHING!
Not a peep or a whisper. The prospect appears to disappear from the face of the planet and when you do get hold of them, they’ll often explain that they are waiting on ‘finance’ or the ‘MD’ or some other person with whom you have had zero interaction and for whom your proposal is less than a pressing priority.
Here are 3 top tips to avoid the frequency of this issue arising:
When you initially arrange a meeting with the company ask at the earliest possible stage who the stakeholders are in making the overall decision to use you or not, and establish the basis for each individual’s viewpoint on that decision e.g. finance director may have a decision based upon the budget or time of year.
Get them involved
Once you know who the key decision makers are, invite them to be a part of the sales meeting in order to expedite the process for the client company (i.e. it’s a benefit for them that you are trying to deliver upon), and enable you to handle any potential avenues for buying objection with the individuals involved.
Once agreed to proceed to quote send the document promptly and presented in a professional format. Agree a time when you can talk it through with whoever will be making the ultimate decision. You won’t always get to do this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask; particularly if you say, “It’s so that I can immediately make any adjustments and answer any final queries”.
Ask for advice
If you can’t get all the stakeholders involved to join you at the initial meeting, then consider asking the prospect for their advice on the format for quoting which has proven most successful in the past. It’s interesting to hear what comes back in response to this approach, and it varies from client to client!
Examples of this might be, “John is a pretty straightforward person, bullet point out the main elements and line-item the costing in no more than 1 page… he hates having to read page after page” Or “Sue from Finance won’t process anything where we haven’t got a detailed timeline of when the invoicing will be expected and the bank details are already available to us.”
I hope these tips help you convert more clients more quickly – please let me know how it goes!
Photo by Melissa Wiese