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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Job Proposal Rejection

    Hi all,

    I recently entered a proposal for the redevelopment of a website.

    I completed a detailed proposal and sent a quote as requested. I also drew up a quick mock design.

    Unfortunately, the prospect emailed me today to say my proposal was not successful.

    I'm thinking of emailing the prospect back to give pointers on why I wasn't successful so that I can improve my service.

    Any suggestions on what to do??

    Thanks.

    Kevin.

  2. #2
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Certainly can't hurt to ask, give it a shot.

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    SitePoint Addict LittleFigment's Avatar
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    No harm in asking.
    One of the major problems with a proposal as you described is the mock-up. I never submit a mock-up with a proposal because a client can become fixated on it and think "I don't want this design for my website". They might not even read the rest.

    It might have been a great mock-up but no where near the style or layout they wanted for the design of their site. You could easily sat down with them in the second stage and developed a design brief and produced a great design according to what they wanted but by submitting a guess at the first stage you essentially eliminated yourself from the process.

    A mock-up with a proposal is a gamble with long odds.
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  4. #4
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Yea I agree with the mock-up problem. It rarely helps. You have no idea what they really want, so you have quite a low chance of succeeding with a premature mockup. If they like it, they'll feel lke the work is already 'done' and resent paying more to flesh it out. If they don't like it, you screwed yourself out of a job. A good portfolio is better than an ok mockup.
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  5. #5
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing
    A good portfolio is better than an ok mockup.
    A good portfolio and a good process. But even then, the prospect has to be in a position where they want someone to consult their way through the project. For a lot of folks, it's a whole lot easier to just sit and wait until they're "wowed".

    Kevin: It can't hurt to ask, but make it a formal process - a form, a call, whatever, but make sure you're not just calling them and being neurotic. Explain that this is a routine part of your prospecting procedure, meant to enhance your service, and that you appreciate their time in participating.

    Meanwhile, don't expect honest or quality answers. The person answering may not be the one who made the decision. It could have gone to another company, or could have been delayed or scuttled altogether. There are a million reasons why your "proposal was not successful" that could have nothing at all to do with you, and most of those reasons won't be made clear to you. That's another reason to make the process formal - it demonstrates that you've been doing this long enough to know that it's only business, and not personal.

    Think of it was a formal way of saying, "Sorry this one didn't work out, but let's stay in touch."

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    SitePoint Wizard
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    Thanks. Any ideas on what II should ask in my response email?

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    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by obrienkev
    Thanks. Any ideas on what II should ask in my response email?
    A few possibilities that readily come to mind:

    Were you satisfied with the comprehensiveness of our proposal? Did it provide everything you needed to know in order to make a decision?

    Were you satisfied with our professionalism during the proposal process?

    How could we have improved our process to better meet the needs of your business?

    I could also see throwing in a few questions about how often they use outsourced help, if they'd mind if you stayed in touch, that sort of thing.

    Again, though, keep it formal. Make it a standard process, or at least look like one.

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    SitePoint Wizard
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    Hi guys,
    Its been 2weeks and she has yet to respond. should I send another email??
    I would really like some feedback from her as I am keen to improve.

    thanks.

  9. #9
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    a follow-up call might work better than mail.

    i mostly don't provide mock-ups with a proposal.

  10. #10
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by obrienkev
    Hi guys,
    Its been 2weeks and she has yet to respond. should I send another email??
    No. Drop it and move on.

    Meanwhile, be sure that you're keeping records of your contacts in some sort of organized way (some advocate a system like ACT, but a simple spreadsheet works fine for my needs). Give her about four weeks and then drop a very professionally written sales letter in the mail to her, not referencing this project at all, including a business card or two. Be sure that she gets one about every three months or so.

    If she calls you back, for any even remotely positive reason, upgrade her to a regular call contact. Touch base via phone every month or so. Trust me on this one - no matter what's happening over there right now, you've made contact and that's what's important. Don't lose that contact. A year or two from now, mark my words, you'll get a call on a job.

    (I know that sounds a bit discouraging. Two years to a job? But if you follow this simple, basic pattern with every single contact you make, that's a lot of planted seeds. Given time, you'll be drowning in work.)

  11. #11
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    truly wise advise!

  12. #12
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    what really helps me with my contacts is sending them here and there an interesting article, a link to some great site, something i've worked on lately, etc.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    If you want feedback, I'll give you a little from my experience. First off, sending detailed proposals out to prospects is a very low probability way of clinching a deal - even people who are really good at this sales method tend to have a success rate under 30%, most people have less than 10%. Your sales success will rocket once you put the emphasis on clinching deals face-to-face, avoiding the need to write a 20 page essay on what you will do for the client.

    Secondly, if you do insist on this method, never just send it off and wait for your prosect to get back to you. After all, you're the guy who's just spent hours/days on a proposal - the least you should expect back is a committment to a specific day and time for you to meet up and go through the proposal together - again, a perfect opportunity to clinch the deal face-to-face.

    Thirdly, be aware that many prospects are not 'prospects' at all. What is your disqualification process like? How many other developers are you competing against - 1, 2, 20? Are you just making up the numbers - quite often these jobs have already been given to someone else and you're there to give a lower price so they can beat down the preferred vendor?

    What was the client's budget, was it even close to what you had in mind? How serious was this prospect - are they even going to proceed with the project - I've lost track of the number of people who've contacted me in the past with projects that to this day never saw the light of day? Was there request for a proposal simply a way of saying 'no thanks' - i.e. 'Hm, er, yeah, send me a proposal, we'll let you know. Bye!'

    I was contacted this week by a company that makes pepper mills (zzzz....).They wanted me to drive over (3 hour round trip), meet their team, understand their product range, go away and create a detailed proposal (including a mock up 'to give them an idea of the kind of thing I had in mind...), submit it and wait for them to get back to me. Basically at least 1-2 days out of my schedule for free. So I began the prequalifiation process and low and behold:

    Budget - 1/3 of what it should be
    Launch date - 3 weeks from today, for a project that wolud take at least 3 months
    What they require - detailed proposal/specification, including mock ups
    Who else they were talking to - 'Her mate who's a web designer, the guy who built their last site, and a few others'. This alone spelt trouble - i.e. I end up handing over a fantastic project spec and they hand it over to her mate who'll do it for 1/3 of my price. Or they decide to give it to the last developer as they have an existing relationship.

    To make things worse, they kept telling me how they have in in-house web team who 'may be able to help' - of course, they may also be able to do the project themselves, given the right specification and design mock ups (kindly provided by me, for free).

    Thanks, but no thanks - been there and done that way too many times when I first started out. Later that day I spoke to a guy who wanted his conversion rate doubling on is ecommerce site - we talked over the phone, he liked what he heard and we agreed a price and he faxed me back a signed contract the next day. This morning I got the deposit cheque in the post. That's the kind of deals I like clinching.

    I'm not saying you should run a mile from anyone who asks for a detailed proposal, just know exactly what your odds are of getting the project in the first place. Personally, I won't write anything longer than a page - just let them know you understand their problems, you have the experience to solve their problems and heres a bunch of case studies and references that prove it (of course all of this would have been explained during your sales meeting, so there is no need to write out a 30 page report texplaining it all again).

    Basically, leave the project spec to be written at the start of the project, once you have a signed contract and deposit. You should be paid for creating a spec, just like an architect gets paid to draw up a building plan.


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