It’s a tale as old as time. The salesman meets with the customer. They agree to work on a project/item. Customer ask the salesman to quote said project/item. Salesman gets excited, goes home, puts together quote, then emails it to the customer. Customer never responds. Salesman follows up. Customer explains they haven’t had time. Salesman follows up. No one answers. Salesman is now in chase mode. Customer finally gets annoyed and tells salesman that incumbent matched the price. Salesman loses and is crushed.
In my brief time as a sales professional, I have seen this situation happen all to often. You might think that this is only happening to inexperienced sales people. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. This is happening with even the most seasoned of sales reps.
The purpose of a sales professional is to walk through the selling process with the potential customer and keep as much control over the situation as possible. Part of this control is having clear futures set when moving forward with any decision made. This includes the quoting process. If you are just emailing quotes to your customer, you have no clue how the quote is going to be handled. This is now just another email for them to review. Let’s be honest, customers have many other priorities then just reviewing our pricing. The quote gets pushed to the side and isn’t considered a top priority in comparison to other pressing issues that come up throughout the day.
At this point, the sales person begins following up, like any sales professional would, just to find that they are constantly being blown off, told to follow back up in two weeks or completely being ignored. Sales people then make excuses as to why it isn’t the best time for the customer and continue following up like asked to, all the while they are scratching their head because the quote solved all of the customers issues and was at a very competitive, if not better price. Why would it not be a priority?
There is also the possibility of the customer, not wanting to deal with switching vendors, could just send your quote to the incumbent. This is because the risk of switching isn’t worth the pricing difference in the product. The value, that might have been present during the time of the meeting, is no longer visible in a quote in an email. Not only have you entrenched the current supplier into the account, you have also wasted valuable time working so hard to only come up short.
When presenting pricing on any product, there is great value in the conversations you can have before and after presenting your quote. You have the ability to ask questions. Questions like,
” Has anything changed on the project since the last meeting?”
” Is the customer still going to purchase the products from you if the pricing is better?”
” Are they going to allow the incumbent an opportunity to match pricing or re-quote?”
If so, ” If they are able to match pricing, why weren’t they selling it to you at that price to begin with?”
” Now that we know our pricing looks competitive, do we proceed with a sample order?”
” When should we expect the first order to be sent in and how would you prefer to place that first order?”
There are many more questions that could continue to help you navigate through the selling process on the way to closing a deal. It is ultimately up to you to stay in control, as much as possible, as to how the sale is going to progress. If you email a quote, it doesn’t matter how much work you do on the front end, you are drastically diminishing your chances at closing the sale and increasing your chances of losing.
Don’t just be a sales professional. Be a professional at sales. Don’t leave your hard work to chance by emailing a quote. Take control and win!