Haven't Heard Back on Your Sales Proposal? Try this...
You’ve spent several hours writing a sales proposal, making sure you’ve articulated the most compelling benefits of your product or service, and sent it off to the prospect.
One day goes by. No response. Two days. Same thing. Three days. Crickets.
You follow up a week later. But still, no response. No feedback.
Was our price too high? Did the scope not match requirements? Where do we stand?
It’s impossible to get answers to these questions when the prospect goes silent. And such answers would be invaluable to help you adjust and refine your proposals to improve your sales conversion ratios in the future.
So, what can you do to improve your odds of motivating a response?
Here are a couple approaches that have worked for me and my clients over the years.
Option 1: The "To Confirm" Close
At the end of an email that includes the sales proposal (either as an attachment or, if appropriate, in the body of the email), I close with this question:
To confirm: Do the scope and terms match what you're looking to accomplish? Or do we need to make adjustments?
Why This Works
It does not put the prospect on the spot to make a buying decision right then and there. In a sense, you’re taking the pressure off the prospect by “confirming the order” before you proceed to the next step in the sales process. As a result, the prospect is less defensive about your offer, and more likely to respond to your request and continue the sale.
If the scope indeed matches your prospect’s expectations (and the price and terms are agreeable), the prospect will likely reply, “Looks great. When can we start?”
If, for any reason, the price exceeds the prospect’s budget, she may say, “I like the scope but our budget is only $5,000. We just can’t do $8,000.” Now, at least you have a dialogue to keep the sales process going. You can respond with something along the lines of:
“Understand completely. How about I look for areas where we can adjust scope and scale our services to still provide you with substantial value, but to fit within your budget. Would you be open to that?”
You accomplish two objectives with this response:
1. Instead of simply cutting your price to meet a budget number, you’ve preserved the value of your service.
2. You’ve positioned yourself (and your company), not as a transaction-seeking salesperson, but as a trusted partner looking to create a win-win agreement.
Option 2: The "Escape Hatch"
Here's another option to try, as well. After you’ve outlined the project objective, scope, and terms, close your proposal with clear instructions for the client:
THE NEXT STEPS
1. If scope and terms are agreeable, simply reply to this email with your approval to proceed, and I'll secure the time and send initial invoice to launch the project.
2. If there is anything above that does not match what you're looking for, let me know, and we can adjust as-needed. Or, if you're limited by budget constraints, let me know, and I'm happy to explore with you about what you'd like to take out of scope and handle in-house to better fit your budget.
Why This Works
What I've discovered since implementing this copy is that, if my pricing falls outside a client's budget, she'll often feel free to tell me and ask if I would consider changing the scope to fit the number she intends to spend.
This approach creates a win-win. I preserve the integrity of my pricing, while my clients receive the best of my services that they can afford.
When you ask for the business, assume the sale. But also include an "escape hatch" that puts clients at-ease if they need your help to work with them to meet a budget requirement.
Still No Response
If, for any reason, you don't receive a response within a reasonable amount of time, send a follow up email along the lines of:
“Hi ____, Just a quick email to check in and make sure you’re taken care of … Do you still need [whatever product/ service you’re offering] or have you found someone to take care of this for you?”
This approach almost always gives you some form of feedback from the prospect. He may still have a need and wants to continue dialogue with you but has been extremely busy. Or, he may be spooked by the price and say, “I’m not sure we have the budget to do this right now.” Or, “We decided to go with so-and-so.” At any rate, you’re getting valuable feedback on where you stand.
And with that feedback, you gain the intelligence you need to adjust your offering and close more deals.
Sean M. Lyden is CEO of Lyden Communications LLC, a Strategy and Storytelling consultancy that helps entrepreneurs tell their story in a way that grabs attention, garners trust, and grows their business.
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