Sales Quote Follow-Up For Dummies (And Sales Experts)
A sales quote is no more than a step in the sales process. Unfortunately some salespeople think it’s the final step. The quote is out, time to relax! Errr…
Do I need to say this is not the best strategy? You don’t close deals by simply sending out sales quotes and waiting for something to happen. Sales are made by making things happen, which includes you initiating the follow-up. In many cases you will have to compete with one or more other suppliers and it’s often not the sales quote itself that’s the deciding factor, but how it is followed up.
So how do we do this?
It’s not rocket science really. The most important thing to do is to keep in touch. Don’t expect your prospect to get back to you after receiving your quote, unless they have an urgent need and are desperate to see it met. In all other cases you will be the one calling the customer to ask for feedback or to offer meeting them again to go over the sales quote together. Even better is to set the follow-up appointment straight away during the sales meeting.
If you’re calling the prospect, make sure to be well-prepared. How will you open the conversation? What value will you provide? What’s the goal of your call? “Hi, just wanted to check in with you”, “did you receive my quote?” or “did you find the time to go over the quote I sent you?” are not the best way to initiate the conversation. If the prospect is short on time or just doesn’t feel like it, it’s easy for them to reply with something like “No, I haven’t got time to read it yet. Call me back later.”
As you can see this approach gets you nowhere.
What sets top performers apart is that they keep providing value every step of the sales process. Therefore make sure you provide value right after the sales meeting, before you send the quote, as well as while you’re waiting for a decision. This can be in the form of a case study which shows similarities to the prospect’s situation, a fresh article on a subject you discussed during the sales meeting or – why not – a free consultation. Anything really, as long as it’s free and holds real value to your prospect.
Ok, but what about the follow-up call?
Call the prospect a few days after sending your quote, tell them that you sent the quote and immediately name the main benefit again. Then add that you got a couple of questions left and ask if he or she has the time to answer them right now.
If the prospect says it’s OK, you’ve just opened the conversation and now have the opportunity to ask the prospect for their opinion on your proposal. The rest of the conversation will depend on the replies you get from the prospect. Either it’s positive, and you set a follow-up appointment or the prospect will come with one or more objections.
“I must say it looks OK, but the price is too high.”
Now this is crucial. How do you react?
First of all it’s safe to say that 90% of your prospects wants a lower price. You do too if you’re buying a new car, right? This doesn’t mean you should agree with a price concession. Sometimes customers will say the price is too high just to test you or to play hard to get. In this case a discount could actually break the trust. After all why didn’t you give them the best price right away?
If the prospect says your price is too high, stay calm and ask them what they are comparing it to. Did they get a lower price from a competitor? Is it just out of their budget? Aren’t they convinced of the value or the return on investment?
Also keep in mind that the price objection might be a false objection. Maybe the solution you’re offering is not entirely what the prospect had in mind or he hasn’t the authority to make a decision. To make sure it’s really about the price, you can isolate the objection by asking “If price was not an issue, would you buy right now?” If the answer is yes, your solution is what the prospect is looking for and he has the authority to make a decision.
If a competitor’s price is actually lower, try to get an insight into what value your prospect is getting for this lower price. Maybe the other supplier doesn’t include service, which requires a separate service contract, or their product has lower build quality. Whatever be the case, never ever criticize a competitor. It’s negative, defensive and – even worse – you’re also criticizing your prospect’s choice.
Why not do it like this instead:
“Mr. Daniels, you have a continuous production method and every hour of inactivity costs you a lot of money. Just take a look at the quality of our drive mechanism. This will make our machine run for 3000 hours straight, without interruptions for maintenance or repairs. If you would need to stop the machine after only 1000 hours to get it serviced, what would be the consequences for your cost of production?”
Bam! Now you’ve made your prospect think about the implications of choosing a cheaper, but lower quality, solution. Notice how there’s not a word about your competitor in there. It’s elegant and deadly effective, just what you need to demonstrate the value of your product. In the end it’s only when the prospect values your product or service more than he values his money that he will buy, so you just got a step closer to closing the deal.
By the way, even if your proposal gets declined, it’s still a good idea to contact the prospect again after a couple of weeks. You never know, maybe the other supplier messed up and you get a second chance. Just make sure you always have something interesting to say. Keep your prospect up to date with the latest developments in your industry, ask them for their opinion or offer free advice. And why not follow them on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn or join the discussion on their Facebook wall? It’s a great way to show authority, build trust and nurture the relationship with your prospect.
Honestly, who wouldn’t appreciate a connection like that?