Now the waiting begins.
A day goes by without a call back. Then another. And another. You’re beginning to wonder if the prospect received your email. Maybe she went with someone else?
Should you call? Should you wait another day or two? Will following up make her think you’re desperate for work? But what if you don’t call? Will she think you’re not interested?
While there’s no one right approach to following up on proposals, the key to any follow-up process is to strike a balance. Sure, you want the work. But, you don’t want to turn off the prospect or client with too many follow-up calls and emails.
By following the steps below, I’ve been able to significantly increase my success rate and reduce the number of opportunities that seem to go nowhere. (Note: for the sake of convenience, I’ll be referring to the prospect as “she.”)
Seven Simple Steps to Land More Projects
Here seven steps that you can easily follow to land more projects:
Step 1: Let the prospect know when she can expect your proposal. Also, let her know that you’ll be calling shortly after sending the proposal, just to make sure it went through and to address any questions.
Step 2: Call her within two to four hours after emailing your proposal. In most cases, two to four hours will give her enough time to open your email and glance at your proposal and your fee. It’s not so soon that it will make you look desperate. But it’s also not so late that you’ll lose momentum. The idea is to strike while the iron’s hot, keeping in mind that there’s a fine balance at play here.
Now, for the most important part: when you call, ask for the work! Don’t be shy about it. You’re not selling steak knives or vacuum cleaners. Your prospect has a defined need. She has contacted you and is going to do the work with someone. Why not you?
Whatever you do, don’t ask her if she has had a chance to review the proposal. And don’t bring up the fee you quoted! Those questions will only take the focus away from moving the project forward.
A simple “Should I get started on the work?” is all you need to ask her.
Step 3: If you get voicemail, leave a message. Let her know that you’re calling because you emailed the proposal earlier and you want to know if you can get started on the project (see step 2 above). Make sure to come across as enthusiastic, confident and ready to move forward on the work. Skip to step 5 from here.
Step 4: If she can’t make a decision yet, ask her when you can check back. Take on the responsibility for subsequent follow-up calls.
Step 5: Call back the day she suggested (or three business days later, if you still haven’t connected). If you get her on the phone, ask her if you can get started on the work (see step 2). If you get voicemail, leave a message that covers the following points:
- Remind her that she suggested you call then (if you’ve
- Let her know that you’re very interested in the project and are confident that you will deliver great value.
- Describe in one or two sentences why you’re the ideal person for
- Leave your phone number and email address.
- Smile while you talk; you want to come across as friendly
Step 6: No response after three business days? Email a quick follow-up note, focusing on the same points as step 5.
Step 7: Still no response after three to five business days? Stop the follow up … for now. That doesn’t mean you give up. It just means that additional follow up will do you little to no good. It may even turn her off at this point. Instead, put her in your “stay in touch occasionally” list and move on.
If you’re not happy with your current approach, I encourage you to give this a try. Is this process perfect? No. But it beats winging it. And you’ll feel better knowing that you tried your hardest … without going overboard and scaring the prospect away.
Do you use specific steps to help you close deals? What are they? Are they working for you?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.