We all do it and it’s a good exercise. The danger comes in when we count on those likelihoods; when we decide we are getting that business. When this happens we start worrying about capacity. We do the ‘what if’ of sales. What if I get all of those pieces of business?
Have you done this? Now here’s a question – when this happens do you scale back your sales effort because you don’t want to start attracting more business in the event the other quotes come through? Yep, it’s because of capacity. We run this script through our heads – ‘If I get those jobs I’ll be maxed out and won’t be able to add anything to the table. I don’t want to start pursuing other business only to have to tell those people that I can’t launch their project.’
Understandable, and if I may, misguided. This thinking causes us to scale back our sales and marketing efforts while we wait for the prospect to opt on. When the prospect takes too long we find that we’ve created a space where there is no new business coming in and none on the horizon – other than the possibility of those quotes we have out.
How can we create a framework in which we can better deal with this situation? The first thing occurs in the quoting process. There should be a clause in all quotes providing a time limit on the validity of the quote. Something like ‘this quote good for 30 days from date designated herein.’ When you have this clause you can go about your sales and marketing. Most things don’t happen overnight in sales. Having this clause allows you to continue building relationships and accumulating potential business. You don’t have to worry about it on a daily basis. If the prospect signs on within the 30 day window it gives you an idea of what your calendar is going to look like. If they don’t, no worries! You are moving on.
You can also create a statement within your proposals letting prospects know how you schedule work. When you are clear about the order in which work is assigned, they know what to expect. They know where they fit. And, you get to keep selling without fear that all of the deals are going to come through at the same time.
Lastly, just because you have quotes out doesn’t mean you are going to get that business. I know you know this but it deserves statement. It is the belief that those quotes are going to turn into business that keeps us from selling as much and as consistently as we should be.
Until the contract is signed and/or a deposit is received, you do not have that business and you need to keep prospecting as if you have no quotes out. You have to trust that when you are prospecting consistently the work will come in the same way.
Set yourself up for workload management with the clauses mentioned above AND continuing to prospect actively. You’ll find that business comes to you in a way you CAN control and maximize.
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