Managing Open Proposals
Written by Eric Petersen, CIC
Even the most successful sales arborists do not close every proposal they present every time. In fact, the majority of proposals delivered in the tree care industry are not accepted until days or weeks after the initial presentation. So how you stay in touch with your prospect during that time has a huge impact upon your closing rate. Here are a few things to consider when following up with a prospect on an open proposal.
Set Follow-up Expectation – Whether you hand deliver or email a proposal to someone, let them know when you will follow-up with them regarding the proposal. This takes some pressure off of them immediately and also sets the expectation of how you will work with them. This also does a lot more as it builds trust with the prospect, as long as you adhere to the expected follow-up time frame. People want to work with a tree care company that does what it says it’s going to do.
Immediate Confirmation – The best way to start the follow-up process on an open bid is to confirm receipt of the proposal immediately with the prospect. If you are hand delivering the proposal, this is obviously easy, however, more and more tree care companies are emailing proposals to their prospects. If you are emailing proposals, it’s imperative that you give a quick follow-up phone call to the prospect to let them know their proposal has been emailed to them. We know that most people don’t answer the phone any more anyways, so this call will most likely be a voicemail to the prospect. Doing this ensures that the prospect will know to look for the proposal and may eliminate confusion if the proposal gets stuck in a Junk Email folder. Obviously, this is the perfect time to also let them know you’re available for questions on the proposal.
Utilize Technology and Teamwork – Many tree care companies use automated email campaigns for marketing purposes, but few utilize them for sales management. Get your marketing and sales team together and have the marketing team explain the functionality of the software that you are using currently to the sales team. The sales team will then inevitably have ideas on what would help them stay in front of the prospects better. If you are a smaller company, chances are the marketing team consists of the same people as your sales team. That is totally okay as well and probably gives you more reason to spend a little time during a weather day to figure this out. Most of the CRM’s (ArborGold, SingleOps, etc.) will have technology available for you out of the box that can be customized relatively easily.
Internal Follow-Up Organization – Being organized with your open leads is a must as well. Included in many of the CRM’s will be a method of setting tasks or follow-ups to yourself as the salesperson to remember to check back with that prospect. Learn how your system works and become a dedicated user of that technology. It may feel clunky at first, but there is not one sales person in the world who can remember every single detail about each open proposal and when to follow-up next without help. If your company doesn’t have a CRM, create a simple follow-up spreadsheet in Google Drive (so you can share it with others if you need to) and ensure you enter information at the end of each day and look at it every morning during the work week to stay current with the prospects.
Use Testimonials – Using testimonials from happy customers during your sales process can give you a huge boost when looking to close more open proposals. If you don’t have testimonials from your own jobs that you’ve sold, work with other sales people to get a handful of testimonials from various job types. Insert these testimonials into an automated sales follow-up campaign or better yet, get them printed as postcards and mail them to your open prospects at a regular interval. If the testimonial states what type of work was done and how pleased with the job your team did, it will make it easier for the prospect to accept your bid.
Expiration Date – Like with everything, the prices you charge today, may not be the same as what you will need to charge in 6 months. Make sure when you are delivering a proposal there is an expiration date on it so they know that the price is locked in until that date. Some people may look at this as being gimmicky, but in reality it will protect you from a customer accepting a very old bid and expecting you to do the work at the proposal price. It also sets up a true closing date so you can take it off your open proposal list and move to a lost lead list. Too many sales arborists get overwhelmed when they have too many open proposals and then the follow-up to the real opportunities is hindered.
Communication and responsiveness with the prospect are the two keys to successfully managing open bids effectively. If you or your team is struggling with staying on top of the open proposals or with your closing rate in general, reach out to a member of the ArboRisk team and ask them about our Sales & Marketing Thrive Package. We will work one-on-one with your company to help you better your sales process and close more of the jobs you want.
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