Ah, the waiting game.
You have doubtlessly worked super hard to write a business proposal filled with insightful information and topped-off with an enticing call-to-action. You and your team have undoubtedly done everything possible to make sure that your company takes the winning bid. And then you submit said proposal, and… Chirp. Chirp.
Sure, we have all experienced it, but no one really enjoys waiting for an answer — patience is a virtue so few of us have. You know that your prospective customer has looked at the business proposal. But, you grow anxious, waiting for something — anything — that will tell you if the efforts you invested in writing the business proposal have paid off.
By now, you probably know that Quote Roller can tell you what your prospective client has seen in your proposal, how long they linger on a given topic, and at what point they bail out, in the event that they do not accept the business proposal right away. Real-time analysis is great, but you are wondering “Uh, what can I do to help seal the deal after they have seen my proposal?” Right?
This is a perfectly reasonable question to ask. Thankfully, there are some helpful things you can say once your customer has read (at least some of) your proposal to insure its success. If you have submitted a business proposal, but it has neither been accepted nor declined, do not allow fear to get the best of you. Put away that sad trombone and start thinking on your feet!
Just because you get caught up in nail-biting anxiety, does not mean it is over!
The business proposal life cycle can extend well beyond the point of sending it to the client. Even though you need new business, you should not allow over-anxiousness to influence the way you deal with your prospective customer. They are aware that the ball is ultimately in their court, and you want to avoid making them feel pressured. Failure on your part in this particular area can lead the client not to choose your proposal. So play it cool.
Understand that the customer has probably received other proposals. If the RFP is ongoing and the last date for submission is well ahead, expect that your customer is simply giving interested parties an equal chance. It is also very likely that the reason your customer does not immediately respond to your proposal is that they want to engage in some internal discussion surrounding it.
You will want to give your client plenty of time to read and re-read the proposal, discuss it within their organization, and gauge it against your competitors. So you do not want to start blowing up the customer’s phone or email the day after you send the proposal. Give your prospect some space to wrap their head around it!
Tip Two: Follow-up first
Once you have waited a respectable amount of time — three to five business days, at least OR, if using in-proposal tracking, the morning after they looked at it — you can pick up the phone and make a follow-up call. The reason behind making this call is to remind your prospect of your business proposal and to see if they have any questions. This is necessary because your client may have initially seen the proposal, but moved on to other tasks without reading it in its entirety, and then forgot to finish reading it later.
A friendly, non-pushy follow-up call is a great way to get the prospective customer back to thinking about your business proposal. Given that they may not have fully read the proposal yet, the only outcome of the follow-up call might be that they agree to revisit the proposal at a specific time in a week or so, but, that is not a bad thing, since you are really setting up further discussions in the future. Keeping your foot in the door starts with this courtesy call.
Tip Three: Ask for more details
Once you have given your prospect the time they need per your follow-up call, and still have not heard from them, after several days, you will want to take another look at the proposal’s analytics to find out what the client has read in the business proposal after you last contacted them. Armored by that information, you can make your next move: another call, this time with a more inquisitive approach.
You would not want to start an inquiring call by going right into hard questions. Instead, start the conversation by asking the client if they will answer a few questions about the proposal. If they say “no,” you have little in the way of recourse as they have probably already disqualified your proposal. If that is the case, thank them for their time and move on.
If, however, the prospect is willing to engage in a dialogue about your business proposal, you are still in the running to win the bid. A customer who agrees to keep the lines of communication open has obviously seen something they can appreciate in your proposal.
The best question to ask is: Are there any questions and concerns related to the proposal that I can help you with?
This continues something of a Socratic exchange of probing questions, but it gives you an opportunity to learn about any possible objections and overcome them. If there is no problem, the client will let you know. If there is a concern, you can still take the bid just by clarifying the issue for your prospect. You will never know, until you ask.
The thing is, Quote Roller users are uniquely able to head-off those questions, even before you hear them. Because Quote Roller notifies you by email when the recipient reads the business proposal, and you can then follow their steps with analytic tools, you are able to know that they were keenly interested in a particular topic, like the Executive Summary or Pricing. This helps you be able to adequately address the client’s concerns, on-the-fly, and impress them with your rapid responsiveness in doing so.
Tip Four: Goodness gracious
No matter the outcome of the dialogue you start with your prospects after they have read the business proposal, always extend courtesy and gratitude to them. Even if the proposal ends when they choose to do business with your most dogged competitor, end it all on a high note, with sincere thanks. Your grace under pressure may just be the thing that earns you their business, somewhere down the road, at last.
Also, bear in mind that, by extending courtesies like the follow-up call and offering to clarify any points of concern, you are winning the customer’s respect, and that alone is often enough to help them choose yours as the company to undertake their project. A little sincere appreciation will go a long way.
Keep it moving!
A business proposal really starts its second chapter after hitting Send. Every recipient will react differently, with some immediately accepting your bid, and others tirelessly seeking key answers. But, the proposal process is not over until you win the job. By keeping the dialogue open with your prospect, you enhance your chances of winning the bid. Just remember to keep a cool head and ask questions that keep the proposal moving forward — and do it all with graciousness and appreciation.
Now, are you ready to talk to your prospects after sending the proposal?
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