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Proposals: Following Up
by
Wendy Weiss

Readers frequently write and ask: How does one follow up on a proposal when each time you call, you only get voice mail?

Excellent question! Try this:

Always have your calendar or Palm Pilot with you and easily available. When a prospect asks for a proposal, part of your conversation must be about how and when you will deliver that 
proposal. Once you have established the time frame for delivery, take out your calendar and say, "Let's pencil in a time for me to come by with the proposal, and we'll be able to talk about it." 

Keeping in mind the parameters and time frame that you just discussed, offer some choices: "Is early next week good for you, or is later in the week better?" This way, you are having a 
conversation about when you will meet to discuss the proposal, not if you will meet to discuss the proposal—an important distinction! I also like the word "pencil"—it implies that the 
time can be erased or changed, so the prospect does not feel trapped.

This is a strategy that you can use to advantage at any point through out your sales cycle. If, during a meeting with a prospect, it becomes apparent that you will need to meet again, 
set it up there and then. If your prospect says, "Call me next week, and we'll set something up…," you say (taking out your calendar), "Let's pencil something in, and I'll make sure to call 
you to confirm." Then, give your prospect some choices: "Is next Thursday or Friday good, or would the following week be better?" If you can set the meeting in this manner, all you need to do is confirm it. It is a much more efficient use of your time. This approach eliminates the endless phone calls, messages or telephone tag that you might otherwise need to follow up with a prospect.

Here's another use of this technique: If you meet someone at a networking meeting who asks you to call, saying that they'd like to have an extended business conversation—take out your calendar. Say, "Do you have your calendar handy? Let's pencil in a meeting, and I'll make sure to call to confirm. Is next week good, or would the week after be better?"

Using this approach, you could halve the number of follow-up phone calls you might need to make.

Going back to the initial scenario we discussed, following up on a proposal: It is always a better idea to present your proposal face-to-face. This way, you can answer questions, articulate benefits, evaluate your prospect's response and negotiate, if need be. You have far more control in this situation.

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