Here are some excellent resources for your business

A marketing strategy tells you what to say, how to say it and who to say it to in order to make more sales. Our guide to the basics.

Market your business online - from your website to social networking, advertising, search engine optimisation, email marketing and more.

The basics you need to know about raising your business profile through advertising, and how to make sure your campaigns are successful.

Focusing on taking care of your existing customers could be much better for your bottom line than chasing new business. The basics of customer care.

No business can survive without selling. Our overview of planning your sales strategy and recruiting, training and managing sales staff.

Get the basics right - our quick guide to the main types of market research and how to get the information you need no matter what your budget.

Direct marketing is ideal for small businesses as it's highly targeted, cost-effective and simple to DIY. Our guide to how to get started.

Start here - find out how attending and displaying at exhibitions and events can benefit your business, and learn how to build your network.

PR

The basic things you need to know about PR for your business, building relationships with the media and managing the impact of publicity.

Winning business after you've sent the quote

No one likes wasting effort, which is why it is particularly irritating to lose business after you have prepared a good quote. Benjamin Dyer of Powered Now explains how to maximise sales when you're quoting for new business

Quotes for customers are the lifeblood of many small businesses, especially trades such as plumbing, building and landscape gardening. They can also be incredibly frustrating.

You work hard researching materials, getting prices together and estimating the work in order to put together a great quotation. You hope that the customer is eagerly anticipating your email and that they will open it the moment it arrives, recognise all the hard work that has gone into it and respond positively.

Sadly, the world doesn't always work like that.

And yet, when it comes to trade businesses, one of the biggest complaints from homeowners is that they can't get quotes out of them. Unfortunately this doesn't mean they will necessarily read them when they are received.

Make sure the quote is in the right hands

But there are ways to improve the amount of work you get after you quote for jobs. The first thing is to make sure your prospect has actually received your quote. As well as emailing (or posting) the quote, it's also worth texting the customer to let them know the quote has been sent.

It's all too common for emails from new contacts to end up in the spam folder. Meanwhile, your customer may be reading the quote that your competitor sent and has no idea what happened to yours.

Marcelle Stoughton, director of Fencing Services, puts it this way: "After I send a quote, as well as texting them, the following day I call the prospect by phone to confirm they got it and to see if they have any questions. If they haven't opened it I try to get them to open it or retrieve it from the spam folder. However, I don't pressurise them."

Don't let sleeping dogs lie

After the quote has gone, you also need to note a time in your diary when you should follow up. It is best if you pre-arrange this if possible. Marcelle Stoughton says: "I call them back a week later after they have had time to think about it."

Lose with grace

Sometimes, unfortunately, you will be the loser. Under these circumstances, it's important to make the most of a bad job. Matthew Stevenson of The Landscape Company says: "If I get an email back with bad news saying I haven't got the job, I always respond saying thank you for the opportunity and thanks for responding and wishing them all the best. I also tell them that if they want anything in the future, to not hesitate to get in touch."

If you respond this way the prospect will really appreciate your attitude. If things don't go to plan, they may come back to you now or in the future. They might even recommend you to others. None of that can happen if you are rude or if you don't reply.

Unfortunately if you are off-hand or rude, you not only guarantee your good work was wasted, you may even cause adverse comment to be posted online. A recent survey of homeowner attitudes found that increasing numbers were checking reputation online.

You also miss out on the opportunity to find out why you lost the business, so you can build that into the way you sell in the future. For instance, if you lost on price and it was obvious that was all that mattered, you might choose not to bid for work with that type of customer in the future.

If the prospect decides to delay the work this presents a different issue. You need to contact them on a regular basis; many customers actually forget who they had previously contacted and when they decide to get the work done, they often start their search again.

Always look to improve

If you make sure that you track the work that you won and lost by source of lead, this enables you learn where the most valuable leads come from, and concentrate your efforts accordingly.

Avoid being on the losing team

It's a lot of work to provide excellent quotes; and it's annoying when you do it for nothing. But by making a few small changes, you can improve your conversion rate and win more business in the long term.

Stay up-to-date with business advice and news

Sign up to this lively and colourful newsletter for new and more established small businesses.

Contact us

Make an enquiry