Ah, the most stressful part of any new relationship: the waiting. You've spent tons of time and effort getting your proposal just right, tailoring it to your prospect until it's just so. You just know you've put your best foot forward. And yet you wait. You wait and watch your phone that doesn't ring, your inbox that doesn't ding. You wait and wonder when their silence starts to mean something, something bad. Sales can be so like dating.
But don't worry! Just because you're waiting doesn't mean you have to be passive. There are still steps you can take to improve your chances of converting a prospect into a customer. Here are a couple things to keep in mind when following up on your proposal.
1. A good follow up is an offer to help
After you've waited an appropriate and patient amount of time—at least a few busy days: you don't want to come off as trying to pressure your prospect—reach out to them with a polite message or phone call. Now the worst thing you can do is remind them that you're waiting on their answer—they know that you're waiting and your reaching out will serve as a reminder.
This is, however, the time to offer to answer any questions they may have. Do they need anything to be clarified? Are there any other questions or needs that they have that you haven't addressed in your initial proposal? The worst case is they can say is no, and you're just back where you started. The best case is that you get a chance to make a personal sales pitch and close the deal.
Whatever you end up saying, remember: your follow up is your chance to help them, not your chance to try to speed up their decision making. They will get back to you when they're ready.
2. Consider your follow up a chance to build on your relationship
Let's pretend that the worst happens: your follow up leads to a decline of your proposal. Well, these things happen. But that does not mean that your job in the follow up is finished! You must still try to cultivate this relationship.
Because there are many reasons why a prospect may decline your proposal: the timing may be off, things may be stressful at their organization, or perhaps what you offer is just not quite the right thing to meet this particular need of theirs.
But if you were a potential good fit to meet a need of your prospect at the time of your proposal, there's a good chance that you will also be a good fit for a new need down the road. That's where a good follow up can help: if they remember that you were a great person to deal with, they will have a good impression of you the next time they see a proposal on their desk. Always remember that sales can be a long game, so keep putting your best foot forward.
So when you're following up on your proposals, remember that you are always trying to help them see you in the best light—make sure your relationship with them goes the distance!
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