Recently I have been reading a lot of articles on how to avoid wasting time on people not ready to buy. I’ve also run into several individuals who do not “do proposals” when asked for one by a customer. Their reasoning was they don’t like to waste time on something if it isn’t a done deal.
I can totally respect the time management aspect of these attitudes. There’s nothing more frustrating than sinking a couple hours into someone who chooses to do something else or wait for now. But, I would argue these can be opportunities and shouldn’t be dropped lightly.
For instance, I had a prospect that I met with for an hour, wrote an eight page report/proposal on what they needed to do and how I could help and submitted it. At the time the prospect said they would handle much of it in-house. Not only did they come back about 3 weeks later to say they couldn’t find the time to do it themselves, they had two additional projects for me AND referred me to other people because they were so impressed with what I had done. So for those three hours I spent on that I got three long-term clients.
Sitting with clients when vendors inform they don’t “do proposals” was also a big surprise. We didn’t want the proposal for any bad reason – we just wanted, in writing, what the services are, what the deliverables would be and how much it would cost. Many of my clients don’t have set budgets yet – it is something we are often working on – and don’t know what particular services will cost. For instance, getting a quote on a graphic design project from three graphic designers yielded pricing ranging from $100 – $1,500. It was only through the proposals we were able to find the questions we needed to ask each of them so we could compare apples to apples. Without those documents, we didn’t know what we didn’t know (how many ideas that included, how many revisions on the selected concept, etc.). So if someone wouldn’t submit a proposal, there wasn’t much we could do!
So before you take all the wonderful advice out there to manage your time and really watch how you spend it when it comes to prospects, think about why they are asking for what they want and if there is potential here. Obviously I am all for not wasting time on someone you don’t want to work with, but if this is a prospect you want to land, spend the time!