25th September, 2018
It’s a classic Catch 22 for businesses, particularly those offering services. You charge for your time, IP, ideas and advice but you have to give some of it away in order to get the sale.
Sometimes it feels like you’re spending all your time writing proposals, having your brains picked over coffee or giving away ideas.
The amount of time you spend becomes irrelevant if you win the job but if you don’t win the job it can be at best time down the drain at worst downright annoying.
Here are a few ideas for how you can improve your strike rate and become more efficient with your time and energy in the sales process.
There’s no point spending a lot of time and energy if the potential customer doesn’t have the budget for your services.
Often businesses will prepare a detailed quote or spend time with a prospect and then provide costings at the end of that process. By giving an indication of price range to the customer up front it achieves two things:
One, the customer is prepared for the pricing and it doesn’t come as a shock if you do prepare a proposal, and two they can self-select out at this stage if it’s not in their budget.
Asking the questions ‘does this fit in with your budget?’ or ‘was this around the amount you were expecting?’ can allow the prospect to indicate their interest for you to continue, without you having invested a large amount of time or energy.
Rather than you spending time preparing a lengthy proposal or a complimentary consultation, test the prospect’s interest by getting them to do some of the leg work.
This could be as simple as completing a questionnaire that might take the place of you visiting them, sending some photos of the job that’s required or reading some information on your company and how you work with customers.
You can test their commitment by whether they follow through on the actions.
This is particularly helpful for you during busy times.
But it’s important to remember that there is a balance between getting the customer to do some of the work and making it difficult for the customer to work with you.
Rather than assuming that the prospect needs a lengthy proposal in writing, or a face to face meeting, spend the time early on to ask some questions about what they need to progress their decision making.
For example, find out:
Who else is involved in the decision making?
There’s nothing worse than if you spend time presenting to one person only to have to repeat it later on to other decision makers.
What information do you need e.g. detailed quote in writing, a presentation in front of the decision makers, 15 minute phone call or just an estimate at this stage?
This question will help you to ascertain if you can provide a quick estimate over email that may take 10 minutes rather than a full proposal that may take half a day.
What’s the best way to present the information?
We always assume that a formal proposal is the way to go but often it can take the most time and not always communicate your offering in the most powerful way.
A direct meeting may be more effective and take less time or preparing a video or skype or zoom call might be the most appropriate saving you time and effort.
To avoid tyre kickers getting your ideas or wasting your time consider charging for the process of preparing detailed quotes or proposals.
Explain the value that the prospect will get from that process even if they choose not to go ahead with you and put a dollar value on it.
This way you can continue to provide your ideas without feeling ripped off if it doesn’t come to anything.
It can also help you determine early on which customers value what you are offering. If this doesn’t often happen in your industry it could just be one way for you to stand out!
Every business would love to improve their strike rate. You can too by choosing one of the four suggestions that suits your business best and put it in to action today and start invoicing sooner!