You have written a killer proposal that others can only dream of putting together. You present it to your prospect and listen modestly as they tell you how very impressive it is. “We’ll make a decision shortly and get in touch,” they say. Instead of leaving it at that, of course, you initiate your follow-up process.
For best results, you will want to follow-up within days after submitting a proposal. First, be sure to send a thank you note. Even though you may be thinking, “They don’t realize how lucky they are to be dealing with my firm,” a thank you note is the polite thing to do. It shows respect for their time and consideration and displays an honest appreciation for a chance to win their business.
Send the thank you note the day after submitting your proposal. Sending a hard copy can help you stand out from your competitors, since many do not take the time to do this. You can send a thank you note by email, but it is not as effective since most people rely on email and you’re trying to stand out from the crowd, aren’t you? (Consider our friends at Gracious Eloise for awesome digitally-rendered handwritten thank you notes.)
If you have not heard back from your prospect within three days after sending your thank you note, it’s time to follow-up again. At this point, you may be scratching your head wondering what’s taking so long. After all, you took the time to address all their key points within your proposal, sat down and met with them or delivered a killer online presentation, followed up with a thank you note, and they still haven’t responded. What’s going on? Don’t they know a good thing when it’s handed to them?
In reality, your prospect may be in the middle of any number of business issues you are simply unaware of. Remember not to take it personally if you have not yet received a response. They may be quite impressed with your proposal but just too busy to respond yet.
Now is the time to call. Call your prospect three days after sending the thank you note. Politely tell your contact person that you are following up the proposal. State that you are simply following up to see that they actually received your proposal. In the event you sent it via snail mail or express delivery, state that you were hoping your proposal didn’t get lost in the deluge.
Once your prospect confirms that they received your proposal, ask if they have any questions. Ask if you met the proposal requirements and if there is anything else they require to make a decision. Do so as part of a comfortable conversation, not a hard sell.
If you have not received any definitive answer after the proposal expiration date has passed, you need to keep your organization fresh in their mind. Write them again to tell them how much you appreciate their time, consideration and you are at the ready should they have questions or concerns. Unless they definitively turn down your proposal, stay on their radar and be persistent without being pushy. Your persistence will pay off in the end while your competitors have all given up.