Proposal sent, now what?

Miles Burke

I’m a big fan of the SitePoint forums, and it’s not just because I write for SitePoint. In fact, I signed up a good five years before ever doing any work with SitePoint, so I’m allowed to say it. One of my favorite forums is the Business & Legal Issues one, however they have a forum for just about everything, and even better; they have a great community.

So, whilst looking through my favorite forum, I came across this questions from one of the posters. You can read the whole question here, however let me paraphrase;

Once you’ve sent the proposal what should we do? Should we wait and have the client go elsewhere, should we call back after a day or two, or wait longer. Should we not send it via email and personally hand it explaining everything to them so they are sure to know what they are getting, reducing the chance of them going elsewhere because they are not properly educated.

I’m glad you asked! There are three options available to you, and depending on the size of the deal, and what your take of the prospect is, you may want to choose the most appropriate, however here are my three suggestions, in order of importance.

Option 1: Meet and hand over the proposal in person.

This is a great way to ensure that the prospect has a good grasp of what you are offering. The important part here is try and get the actual decision maker in the room – remember, the person you may be sending your proposal to may in fact not be the person who decides, so ensure your proposal covers all the points and walk it through with the decision maker.

At the end of the conversation, don’t be afraid to ask for the business; something along the lines of ‘Do you have any further questions, or shall we discuss when we can get started?’ works best for me.

This option obviously isn’t the solution if the client is remote, or indeed the work is only small in value.

Option 2: Send proposal over by email and call immediately.

This is a great way to make sure that your prospect understands that you are keen to work with him/her. It also means you can ask them for a suitable time in the next 24 hours, so you can chat again on the phone (if they don’t have the time right then) to walk through your offering over the phone. This helps answer any questions and avoid any roadblocks, as does the above.

Option 3: Send proposal and call back a day or two later.

This should be the absolute last straw approach. If you don’t get through straight away, send them an email asking if they had any questions, and let them know you’ll try calling again in another two days. Keep this up for a handful of calls, or an answer either positive or negative. It reflects you are keen, and ensures you come across helpful as well.

Now you’ll note I haven’t offered the sales losers approach. I used to do this regularly years ago, and it’s definitely not the way to handle a proposal follow up; this one is don’t follow up. If you don’t follow up, you are demonstrating you don’t care about the work.

In this instance, you’d be just as better off writing a figure on the back of your business card and leaving it with the prospect at your initial meeting; it doesn’t say anything more about your professionalism or keenness to work with that prospect. Don’t be that sales loser – pick one of the first three options!

Good luck with that next sale!