There are many reasons for customers delaying a positive response to your proposal, and you probably won’t know what most of them are!
You are at your most vulnerable point of the sales cycle when you’re waiting for a response to your proposal because you’ll feel there’s very little you can do but wait for your customer’s response. But we believe there are a number of things you can do, before, during and after the proposal process.
But first let’s look at some of the reasons your customers might be slow to ‘yes’:
• The decision maker may be busy or absent.
• There may be a collective decision required.
• They may all be just busy, and you’re probably well down their ‘to do’ list.
• You may not have explored their needs fully.
• They’re unconvinced by your proposal.
• Perhaps you’ve not built a close personal relationship with them, or maybe they’re just a different personality type to you.
• Maybe they’ll never come with you, for whatever reason.
Whatever the reason, there’s something slowing the process down and preventing them from saying ‘yes’.
Here are some tips to speed it up:
When exploring needs:
• Learn everything there is to know about your customer,
• Study their website, tour their factory or warehouse, look at projects they’ve completed, speak to their customers, soak it all in.
• Ask intelligent, well-structured questions, based on what you see and learn.
• Summarise frequently and ask ‘Have I got that right?’
• Welcome objections as unmet needs and explore until you get to the root of the objection.
• Ask your customer to prioritise – ‘What’s the most important thing to you when considering…’
• Seek to define timeframes – ‘When are you likely to make a decision on this?’
When putting together your proposal:
• Open your proposal with ‘What you told us’ or ‘How we understand your needs’
• Do not open your proposal with information about your business. Your customer doesn’t care! If you want to include it add it as a schedule.
• Benefits sell. Having listed the needs of your customer, detail the benefits of your solution specific to their individual needs. This is the most important part of your proposal.
• Present your proposal in person where possible. How else can you gauge the reaction of your customer and answer their objections?
Following your proposal:
• Stay in agreed, regular contact. Keep the next step in your control – ‘Great, I’ll call you next week.’
• Try to determine what’s stopping them making a decision. Ask them again for their timeframe.
• Summarise their needs and stress the benefits of your solution.
• If your proposal has to go before a committee, suggest that you present it jointly with your contact. Seek to build relationships wherever possible.
• Ask your contact ‘What’s stopping you making a decision?’
If your customer has given you a timeframe, you’re within your right to follow up within that timeframe. If it goes past the timeframe, it’s a sign that your client has gone cold.
There’s a saying ‘Either poo or get off the potty’. If your customer won’t make a decision, try to encourage them to do so. It may be that you have to be prepared to walk away to get a reaction.