At The Last Hurdle, our specialty is helping businesses develop, providing them with the tools, advice and elbow grease they need to move forward, create realistic goals and implement the strategies to achieve them. Including sales practices. One area we find that many SMEs have a problem is with sealing the deal once all the presentations and discussions have finished.
You’ve got the product and the skills, you have the customer service, the right price, the perfect solution. You have put in your quote and now you sit back, waiting for the customer to come back to you. It’s often seen as a peculiarly English trait – we don’t want to be seen as too pushy. However you do it, you have to find a way to ask for the business.
If you don’t, someone else is going to do it, and the likelihood is that they will get the contract instead of you.
How to Ask for the Business
The truth is that your prospect might well be sitting in their office right now wondering why you haven’t contacted them. A simple phone call from you could get things moving. We all have different personalities and directly asking for the business is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you need to find your way of asking for the business!
It’s largely a question of finding the right method that suits your way of doing things. That could mean a short call to see if the prospect needs any further questions answering, ask when do they anticipate having a decision or a more ‘dynamic’ approach by asking when they want to get started. There are an awful lot of different ways of asking for the business, find one that suits you and the situation.
Yes, it’s important to give your potential new client the time to have a think about your proposal and won’t want to hound them into rejecting you. If you are in competition with other businesses then asking if there is anything extra that you can do to win the contract can help you tweak your proposal enough to make the difference.
None of us like rejection and perhaps one of the reasons many fail to ask for the business in the first place is because we don’t want someone telling us to our face that we haven’t quite made the cut. Of course, it can be nerve wracking and give your self-esteem a little knock if you get a rejection but it is also the chance to learn a little more with some feedback. Don’t forget, this isn’t a personal rejection! This is business and sometimes the solution, product or service you are offering is just not the right fit.
Feedback is Good
You won’t win every contract you vie for, that’s just a fact of life. If you are an SME it can often feel like a crushing defeat, especially if you have put a lot of time and effort into the proposal. This is the time to ask for feedback – what did the competition have that you didn’t, what could you have done better and how were you generally perceived. If you don’t want to do it face to face or over the phone, a polite e-mail can get you some useful feedback information that helps you to better hone your offering the next time.
One word of advice: make sure you take that feedback and do something with it.
At The Last Hurdle we advocate that a little courage can go a long way when it comes to landing that contract. If you are wondering what happened to that potential client you spoke to last week then it’s time to pick up the phone, take a deep breath, and ask them if they are ready to do business with you.
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