You’ve social networked, you’ve established your marketing plan, and your advertising has paid off. You have an honest-to-goodness sales lead. It is time to quote a project.
It Begins with the ‘Thought Process’
You’ve met the client, and you’ve walked through the space or you’ve seen the drawings. During this “interview” you’ve asked questions about how they’ll be using the system, right?
Throughout this first meeting, you have talked about all of the new technologies that exist today (since you're already are putting the pieces together in your mind). Getting feedback from the customer is imperative for proposing the proper solution.
This is usually where drawings are started and numbers are added up.
I think that most miss one additional step in this process. This is where you need advisors. Advisors can be on your team or beyond in the great big world (might I suggest Google+ or even Twitter for this). By asking questions, you may find better answers, ones you may not have known existed. Have your team be part of the process as well. Because they'll have ownership in the project, you'll be motivating them to get it done the right way.
Customer Service > Budget
Most clients would rather pay more and have a better overall experience than to purchase a cheaper more complicated system. I once had a friend tell me not to go back and forth with a car dealership too much. His point: if you paid a fair price you would have more clout and an overall better service experience when the car needed service. If the dealership ends up making no profit just to move the product, you'll either be remembered as a “problem child” or not remembered at all.
Recently in a meeting with a potential large client I was told they want to partner with companies that they could call after the sale, and this was most important to them—more important than the price. If you have a kind person answering your phones, tell the client. This could be just the push he/she needs to pull the trigger
Present the ‘Right’ Way
My quotes are understandable. I want the client to recognize what they are purchasing. I do not throw around jargon with makes and models to confuse the client. I explain it as I would if we were together. Of course a face-to-face is always the best presentation tool but not always feasible with our busy lives, so a well-written quote is the next best thing. Not too many words either, for this will ensure the client will never read it. I also always offer more technical info should they desire it (spec sheets and such) and most do not. They’re buying “you,” your company, and the system—not the product.
The Follow Up
Follow up after you send a quote, and then again after you finish the job. The next gig may be hatched from the follow up of this one. This could be through the word of mouth they’ll bestow upon you if they’re happy with the project, or they may decide they want to add on. (How will you ever know how they feel unless you ask?)
On larger projects, not only do we call to follow up, we go back after they’ve lived with the system. This gives them piece of mind that we didn’t disappear and allows them a level of comfort with the system (which also goes back to customer service; you better believe I mention this to them up front). Done right, this will equal another sale, and so the process begins all again.
Quoting well is truly an art and those of you that have mastered it do not need me to tell you how to do it. However, I’ve seen some muddled ones out there that could make you cringe. Learning to quote well and keep the churn going is one part talent and one part consistency. Add in a little hard work, and the art of quoting will certainly be mastered.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.