Pete Bowen's site

How to win more quotes without lowering your prices

Most quotes don't turn into sales. I've seen it described as:-

Your ratios might be different but the concept is sound.

There is potential to turn more of your quotes into sales. And that's because the reason those 80% don't buy isn't always because you're too expensive. It's often down to things like:-

You will turn more quotes into sales if you follow up on every single quote that leaves the office.

It's been my experience that people don't follow up on every quote because:-

Following up on quotes by email solves both problems.

A follow-up phone call is an interruption and it puts pressure on the prospect for a real-time answer. It feels pushy. But, a follow-up email doesn't interrupt and it doesn't demand an immediate answer. It's much more comfortable for the prospect.

And, you can automate a sequence of follow-up messages so they always are sent, even if business is hectic.

Emails have another advantage. You can invest some time into writing a really good email and then use it as a template for all future quotes. I strongly recommend this because it means that your follow-up messages will always be good, even if the person sending them has a hangover.

How to design a quote follow-up email sequence.

The two main things to decide on are:-

But before we look at these can I warn you about something. Over the years I've built several custom sales systems that follow up on quotes by email. Recently, I've been helping new SalesMotor clients set up their follow-up emails. One problem keeps cropping up. It causes weeks or months of delays.

The problem is trying to get the follow-up sequence perfect before using it.

I'm not talking about things like spelling, grammar and so on. You've got to get that right. I'm taking about agonising over the exact shade of grey for the signature text at the bottom of the email. Or spending hours deciding if the logo should be on the left or the centre.

While I respect attention to detail, polishing the irrelevant costs sales.

If you tend to get bogged down in the details can I suggest that you do the best you possibly can today and start using it. Then book a slot in your calendar 6 months from now to review your work.

With that out of the way let's look at how often you should follow up.

How often should you follow up?

Try the following:-

If it normally takes many months between quote and order you could increase the delay between messages. You could also add extra monthly follow-up messages.

If your sales cycle is shorter than a month you could send more frequently, say:-

There is no perfect schedule. And, it's not set in stone. If more than half of your prospects complain that you're following up too often you can space the emails a little further apart. (The odds of this happening are about the same as winning the lottery.)

What should you say in the quote follow up messages?

I think you should:-

I've included examples of follow up messages at the bottom of this essay. You're welcome to modify them for your own use.

Message 1 can be very simple e.g.

Hi {{first name}}.

I'm writing to make sure you received the quote I sent yesterday. Please yell if you didn't receive it or if you have any questions.

Messages 2 - the second last message can all use the same template if you find it hard to think of what to say. It's unlikely that your prospective customer will remember, and be offended by, you using the same words you did a week ago.

The last message in your sequence can be different if you want to say you're not going to follow up again. You might try something like ...

Dear {{first name}}.

A while ago you were interested in a new kitchen. We produced a quote for you. I've attached a copy for your reference.

Is this still a priority?

If it's not can I trouble you to let me know so I can take it off my list. Otherwise, what can I do to make it happen?

Thanks.

How much personalisation is needed?

Follow-up messages need a little personalisation. You can't get away with something like

Dear prospective customer.

I've built systems that include very complex personalisation. One, for a holiday cottages business, merged things like the arrival and departure date, the price, the name of the cottage and a few other bits and pieces into the follow-up emails. It was expensive to build and the users made frequent mistakes. I'm not sure if the fancy personalisation actually made any difference to how many quotes were won.

Start by personalising the email with the potential customer's first name

Dear Pete.

You can always come back in a few months and make it more personalised if you think it's worth it.

How pretty do your followup emails need to be?

Plain text is good enough for follow up emails. But, I respect your right to disagree :).

If you are going to produce beautifully formatted emails may I suggest the following:-

How to follow up on quotes without automation.

You don't need to automate the follow-up emails to get the benefits. Sending one email at a time, by hand works.

Here's what you'd do every day:-

  1. Update the list of quotes that need to be followed up.
  1. Identify which quotes need to be followed up on today.

  2. Send an email for each quote.

  1. Update the quote list to record which emails you sent.

50 quotes a month with 4 follow up messages per quote is 200 messages - 9 or 10 every working day.

It'll probably take about half an hour to update the list and send the messages. If you submit 100 quotes a month I expect you'll spend about an hour every day following up.

The secret to following up without automation is to have all the information you need in one place. It'll take much longer if you have to hunt around for contact details, quotes and so on every time you want to send a message.

A spreadsheet is a good place to keep track of follow-ups. You could have columns for:

Here's a tip. Download a copy of the quote from your accounting system and store it somewhere you can get to easily. You don't want to have to dig the quote out of your accounting system every time you want to send an email.

How to follow up on quotes automatically.

If you don't have a spare 10 to 20 hours a month, or if you want to guarantee that it will happen even when you’re busy you could automate it.

I'll tell you how it's done in SalesMotor (the lead management system I own). There may be other ways to do it.

The work starts when a new quote is ready.

The first email isn't a follow-up. It's the quote delivery email and it goes out right away. It includes the quote and any other standard attachments like terms and conditions or bank details.

Having the quotes sent from SalesMotor instead of sending them by email first means that nobody forgets to start the follow-up sequence when a new quote is submitted.

The rest of the emails go out at the right time without further human intervention.

There is a list of active quotes in SalesMotor. When a quote is won or lost you click the appropriate button and the follow-up messages stop.

Some extra ideas.

Here are some other ideas you might find useful.

Call or text 10 minutes after sending your quote.

Sometimes quotes get lost or stuck in a spam folder.

Call or text the prospect ten minutes after sending your quote to tell them you've sent it. You don't need to discuss the quote or do anything other than make sure that they're aware that you've sent it.

You mught need to adjust the first follow-up email so that it still makes sense if they've told you they've received the quote. Something like

I'm following up to check if you have any questions or need anything clarified.

Set a date to stop following up where it makes sense to do so.

Imagine you ran a catering company and quoted for an event two weeks from now. It wouldn't make sense to send a month-long follow-up sequence.

SalesMotor allows you to set a date on which to stop follow-up messages for cases like this. This happens automatically. If you're following up by hand you could add a stop date column to your spreadsheet.

Use fear of missing out (FOMO) in your template messages.

FOMO is a strong motivator. You could use it in your follow-up messages if there is some legitimate reason for telling the prospect to take action or lose out.

Legitimate reasons include things like:-

You could also increase the urgency with a limited time offer. It could be adding something free to the deal or discounting the price in exchange for transacting right away.

Talk about what it's like to work with you.

Unless your prospect is an expert in your industry they're not going to be able to tell the difference between your offering and other quotes.

Imagine you needed a new kitchen at home. You'd probably get two or three quotes from reputable contractors. The quotes would have roughly the same format. They'd come with a drawing showing the layout, and a list of specifications for things like handles, doors, carcases and countertop.

I'm guessing that, like me, you don't know the difference between Blum TANDEM and Grass Elite Plus undermount drawer runners. I don't speak kitchenese so I'm going to choose the cheapest of the quotes.

You can stand out and win more quotes - even if you're not the cheapest - by talking about how you deliver your product or service. The follow-up email sequence is a good place for this.

What if one of the kitchen contractors told you what it's like to work with them? How about an email like this the day after sending the quote.

Dear Pete

Thanks for thinking of us for your kitchen remodel. If we're lucky enough to be chosen here's what will happen on installation day.

We'll arrive at 8am. We'll start by covering the kitchen floor with protective matting and plastic sheeting. We'll also cover the door between the kitchen and the rest of the house so that no dust escapes.

If you want, we'll carefully pack the contents of your cupboards into airtight plastic boxes and store them safely out of the way.

Then it's time to demolish the old units. Our waste contractor will arrive at about 10 to take the mess away.

After that we'll hang the overhead cupboards and fit the base units. It'll be a bit noisy as we're drilling into the walls to support them.

The last step is to cut the countertop to size. We use a track-saw with an attached extractor to keep the dust down.

When we've finished we'll clean everything thoroughly. We'll repack your things into the new cupboards if you want.

We leave no mess or dust and you should have your new kitchen by 5.

(I'm not a kitchen contractor so don't yell at me if I've got something wrong.)

Changing the frequency of follow up messages on a per quote basis.

I've had people want to set a different interval between follow up messages for each quote. I don't recommend doing this because:-

Send a final followup email.

You could keep sending follow-up emails forever but that's unlikely to be worth the effort. I recommend you end your email sequence with a final is this still a priority message.

I've used the template below for years and it often triggers a response from a prospect that's gone quiet.

Dear {{first name}}.

A while ago you were interested in advertising your business. We produced a quote for you. I've attached a copy for your reference.

Is this still a priority?

If it's not can I trouble you to let me know so I can take it off my list. Otherwise, what can I do to make it happen?

Thanks.

Examples of quote follow up messages.

I wrote these for a motorcyle rental business.

Message 1.

Subject: Did you receive the motorcycle rental estimate?

Dear {{first_name}}.

This is just a quick check to make sure that you received the estimate we sent yesterday.

Please yell if you didn't receive it, or if you have any questions or need further clarification. You're welcome to call on the number below or reply to this message.

Message 2.

Subject: Following up on our estimate for motorcycle rental

Dear {{first_name}}.

I hope this message finds you well.

I wanted to follow up on the motorcycle rental estimate we recently sent. We're thrilled that you're considering us for your upcoming adventure.

If you have any questions or need further clarification about the estimate, please don't hesitate to contact me.

You can reply to this email or give us a call at the number below. We're looking forward to the opportunity to serve you and help make your experience a memorable one.

Thank you for considering us. We hope to hear from you soon and be a part of your upcoming adventure.

Message 3.

Subject: Don't miss out on your motorcycle rental

Dear {{first_name}}.

I hope this email finds you well. We wanted to gently remind you about the motorcycle rental estimate we sent previously. We understand life can get busy, but we wouldn't want you to miss out on the incredible experience we can offer.

Our fleet of motorcycles is ready and waiting for your adventure, and we're here to answer any questions or provide additional information you may need. Whether it's about bike options, rental terms, or anything else, we're at your service.

Please feel free to get in touch with us at the number below or simply reply to this email. We're committed to ensuring your motorcycle rental experience with us is both hassle-free and unforgettable.

Thank you for considering us, and we hope to hear from you soon.

Message 4.

Subject: {{first_name}}, do you still want to rent a motorcycle?

Dear {{first_name}}.

I hope this email finds you well.

This is our final reminder regarding your motorcycle rental estimate from [[name of business]]. We've held your reservation and we wouldn't want you to miss out.

If you're still considering our services, please act quickly to secure your booking. Our team is ready to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have.

You can reach us at the number below or reply to this email. We understand that plans can change, so if you need to make adjustments to your reservation, just let us know.

Either way, thank you for considering us for this.

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