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Michael Casey

Pressing Ahead

By Michael Casey

About Michael

Michael Casey is the founder of Survey Advantage and strategic partner with several printer associations and franchises. By leveraging information from a printer’s estimation and production software, Mike’s business has helped hundreds of printers automate their customer feedback and lead generation process. He may be reached via e-mail or (401) 560-0311 ext. 103. Read printer case studies on the Survey Advantage Website.

Follow-Up Ideas to Improve Your Quote Win-Loss Ratio

Last week, I received a call from a printer asking how the firm could better follow-up on quotes. The caller explained how the company spends so much time getting the opportunity to quote that it is critical to be available to help customers through the final stages of the decision process. The problem was that the company did not have a reliable, predictable follow-up process.

Maybe most printers may have this covered, but these thoughts may help you refine or improve your process.

We may think customers and prospects prefer we sit tight and wait rather than following up, but customers appreciate follow-up for several reasons. They may:

1) have a question about the quote and need clarification,

2) be procrastinating and need a little encouragement or help to make the project easier to implement, [Maybe you can help them.]

3) have lost the quote document and need you to resend it and maybe assumed you are no bidding the project, [Ugh!]

4) like you, but another printer is following up better and they may feel guilty not giving it to them, or [Early bird gets the worm. Squeaky wheel gets the attention.]

5) have some changes to the scope of the project and they have questions for you. [Maybe they are going in a different direction and not sure you can do it.]

While it is a numbers game, the win/loss ratio will improve with a little TLC. Many customers appreciate follow-up. If you do well in the quote process and deliver superior product and service, you have a winning combination to share.

Open quotes typically fall into three buckets:

1) The project is delayed.

2) The project isn’t going to happen.

3) They gave it to someone else.

For the most part, you can control two of those three reasons by understanding the reason for the delay and offering advice, or understanding what you need to do to win over your competition.

Following up on quotes starts with a solid customer relationship management (CRM) system that includes reports to monitor and track open quotes.

For large printers, the sales team is responsible for monitoring quotes in the funnel and managing timely calls and follow-up.

For smaller printers, this function may be handled using a selection process in which the smaller quotes and deals are followed up with a weekly e-blast leveraging variable data to ask about the quote or a mini-call campaign requesting a status. This can be launched each Monday morning for all quotes that are between 14 and 21 days since submitting. Larger deals are handled with white glove follow-up.

Consider setting up a report to view on a weekly basis that includes the # of quotes and dollar value in the pipeline along with projected close dates. Think of an Excel sheet with columns such as customer, contact name, project name, dollar value, description, quote date, sales rep, projected close date, status, last communication date.

A few processes to consider for an effective quote follow-up include:

1) Having a useful open-quote report to help drive the follow-up process.

2) Mapping out the follow-up process to ensure no quote falls through the cracks.

3) Decide the timeline when an open quote should be followed up on if not customer driven.

4) Decide how technology can help the sales team with the follow-up process.

5) Implement CRM or sales management software to help sales people keep deals visible for efficient follow-up.

6) Track your win/loss ratio and look at the reasons for wins/losses. Refine the process.

Many of the estimating and production software vendors have a function to generate an open quotes report. At a minimum having these estimates available for the sales team will help more deals fall through the bottom of the funnel as wins.

I am sure I am missing other things that can be done for effective follow-up, but even a simple email and/or phone call process can keep communications open and the dialogue alive while a project is in the works with your customer or prospect. Any other ideas out there?

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