Sales Q&A #45 – Giving Quotes

This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

Prospect seems interested but never gets back to you...

Q. Giving quotes. Client (prospect) seems interested but never gets back to you.

A.  I’m assuming that the question here is, “How do I get the prospect to give me an answer when I provide a quote?” This is one of the most common frustrations for sales people.

Before I get into it, let’s examine our expectations. Let’s say that now, out of every 10 quotes that you deliver, three people get back to you, and two buy. You are very frustrated with the other seven, because you can’t seem to get a response.

Realize that without a radical change in the way you do business, you are always going to have some people fall into the category of “not responding” to your follow-ups.

So, if you can change your results to something like five out of the ten people getting back to you, and three actually buying, you will have made a significant impact on your results. You’re still going to be frustrated with the five that don’t respond, but you will have dramatically improved your performance.

In order to do that, let’s consider why a prospect would seem interested, but would not get back to you following your delivery of a quote. Here are a few possibilities.

1.  He was never interested in the first place, and asked for a price as a way of getting rid of you.

2.  He was mildly interested in checking on the price he is currently paying from his preferred vendor. He never had any interest in buying it from you; he was just collecting information.

3.  At the time you were there, he was mildly interested. But now, too many other more important things have occupied his time.

4.  Your price wasn’t very appealing, and you didn’t give him any other reason to buy it from you.

5.  He just doesn’t have the time to fool with you.

6.  Because you are the unknown vendor, doing business with you is just too high a risk.

I could go on and on with these scenarios, but you get the idea. There are a virtually unlimited number of reasons why he isn’t getting back with you – many of which don’t have anything to do with you.

The solution to this problem and the answer to your question is, unfortunately, much larger and more complex than I have space to write the answer.

Everyone wants the simple, easy answer. “Give me the five words that I can say that will get people to return my calls.” Frankly, very little of the sales person’s job can be reduced to simple, easy solutions.

Ultimately, the answer is to do a better job at every aspect of selling:  identifying high-potential suspects, qualifying prospects and opportunities, understanding them better, more effectively presenting your solutions, adequately addressing their concerns, etc. In our Kahle Way® B2B Selling System, it’s about 32 hours of training spread over a year.

But, we don’t have that much time in this article. So, here are a couple of ideas that you may want to implement, in no particular sequence.

1.  Don’t provide a quote unless the prospect agrees to talk with you about it…

… either at the time that you deliver it, or shortly thereafter. So, if he says, for example, “Can you quote me X?” You say, “Sure. I can have the quote to you by the 15th.  When should we get together to discuss it?”

If he won’t make a commitment to talk with you, even if it is just over the phone, then he’s not serious enough about the quote to warrant you investing time in it. Tell him you’ll pass on this one, and will look forward to an opportunity that is important to both of you.

2.  Don’t allow the prospect to make the conversation solely about price.

I’m not sure I’d quote a price in the first or second meeting with a prospect. If I do, then he is judging me and my offering solely on the price. I’d like for him to understand the strengths and advantages of my product/service, and what we can do for him and his company. I’d like to uncover some area of pain, and show him how my product/service/company can make that pain go away.

All of that takes a pretty in-depth interaction with your prospect, and dramatically increases the likelihood that he’ll seriously consider your offer.

When you deliver a price in the first meeting, you are, in effect, saying to the customer that there is no other reason to do business with you other than price. That puts you into the class of “peddlers” whose only contribution to their customers is to advocate for lower prices from their companies.

If you see ten prospects, and leave ten prices, you have interacted with the prospect at the most superficial level, demonstrating to him that you are not important enough for him to seriously consider your offer.

3.  Do a better job of qualifying the prospect.

If he doesn’t have any real burning issue that your offer can address, he’s probably not going to spend any time seriously considering your deal. You must therefore, make sure that the prospect has a significant reason for considering your offer.

That means that you must do a better job of qualifying the prospect and uncovering the depth of the opportunity before you leave a quote. Read my book, Question Your Way to Sales Success, to gain some ideas of how to do this more effectively.

Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle

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