As a small business owner, one of my personal challenges is following up with potential new business after providing a proposal/quote.
It’s easy for me to assume, when I haven’t heard back from a client, that: they don’t want to deal with me, they’ve got a better quote, my price is too high, I didn’t present the info well, etc. etc.
While occasionally this may be true for the most part it isn’t. And, unless I make the follow-up call, my mind can continue to spin all the reasons why someone hasn’t gotten back to me/doesn’t want to do business with me.
A few years back the value of follow-up was reinforced for me with four clients over a short period of time. Two were new clients that I had given proposals and quotes to, and hadn’t heard back from. The other two were clients I had done other work for and who had mentioned in conversation other work they might need done.
In all four cases a follow-up phone call resulted in them each confirming their intention to move forward with the new work. Even if only one or two of the four had decided to move forward with the work they needed done, following up would have been worthwhile.
Fortunately for me, all four decided they wanted to go ahead with the work. Of course, this isn’t always the case. But, chances are, if we don’t follow up some of the business we might have gotten had we followed up, will never materialize.
Why Follow Up Is Important
Following up with potential clients makes sense, even if we don’t get the business, because by doing so . . .
We then KNOW the end result and have an opportunity to ask ‘why’ if they decide to not go forward or to go elsewhere (thus eliminating further stewing and guessing as to any reason).
We have an opportunity to EVALUATE our proposal and client interaction to determine if there was anything we could have/should have done differently or if this was simply a matter of ‘you win some and you lose some’.
We may learn information that could prove valuable in PREPARING future client proposals.
Knowing Is Better Than Not Knowing
All in all, knowing is much better than not knowing.
I’m grateful to my husband who is usually the one that asks me some of the hard questions I don’t always want to hear but need to hear. Questions like, “Have you followed up with … on the proposal you sent to them?”
I know I shouldn’t NEED to be asked but sometimes I do. And, it’s the same question I ask my clients. It may not always be the question we want to hear but it is often the question we need to hear – and then act on.
Not following up with your clients is likely to lose us business because our competitors will likely win it from us when they follow up. And even if the competition doesn’t follow up, our clients’ great plans and intentions sometimes get shelved ‘for another day’ that never comes when no one follows up with them.
A phone call or face-to-face appointment may be the best way to connect with clients to get an answer or feedback about a proposal but email is an option too. Some follow-up is better than no follow-up.
So, bite the bullet and make the time to follow-up. In the overall analysis, it’s an important part of taking good care of our clients and provides important feedback, not to mention potential cash-flow, for our businesses.
Header Image Courtesy of Flickr User Asja Boroš