We have all been in a situation where we’ve sent out a quote or proposal to a potential customer and waited to hear back from them. What do you do? As entrepreneurs, we love the negotiation part, so we hope for a response. If it’s yes, great! If it’s no, we have an opportunity to negotiate, or at least find out what cost us the deal.
But, worst of all, sometimes we never hear back from them. And this is where some entrepreneurs throw that number/e-mail address into the trash. This is a rookie move.
I never give up on a potential client – you don’t really know why they haven’t come back to you and to assume will not serve you well. I’m not saying you should desperately run after the business, either, but never believe that you know their reason for disengaging.
In our foundational sales seminars we teach salespeople a very basic approach: Have a dashboard that is made up of two columns that you review every week. It details the clients you are working on and clients you are working towards.
Your energy and efforts should be used primarily for the ‘Working On’ column. These are the clients who have already said yes and who you want to turn into long-lasting and profitable relationships. It is essential that you have a list of action items that you and your team do for these clients to solidify the relationship and enhance your offering.
The ‘Working Towards’ column consists of individuals and companies that you still need to convert. This list includes the people who have not yet given you a final answer on your quote or proposal. Here it is also important to have a list of things that you do weekly, monthly or every six months to ensure that you stay on their radar. Staying on their radar doesn’t mean harassing them. Rather, find a way to remind them periodically that you are still able to deliver value for them.
I have been in many situations in my career where I thought people did not accept my proposal because they didn’t like my pitch; they found a better provider; or they found someone cheaper. The reality is that in most of these instances it was just the timing.
You never really know the extent of the constraints facing potential clients, or the hurdles they need to cross before they are in a position to give you a solid ‘yes’. Sometimes it is better to give them the benefit of the doubt – back off for a while, but don’t forget about them.
Having a dashboard that reminds you who your ‘Working Towards’ clients are will assist you in lowering your expectations of them. You can then action some of the engagements in a more clinical fashion.
I have had clients who were facing challenges that they were not allowed to discuss with anyone outside the organisation, and if I had acted emotionally about the fact that they didn’t get back to me, I can assure you that I would never have had them as a client today.
So, yes I am a big believer in timing. It is very possible that many of the potential customers who have not given you a positive response are waiting on other things to happen. Or perhaps they are just, in a way, giving you a chance to become better. So I encourage you to stay on their radar – find creative means of sharing your progress and your journey with them. Every now then, remind them that you are still willing and able to serve them.
Quinton Douman is the managing director of 212 Business Consulting, a personal-development expert and an internationally certified corporate speaker.