You’ve submitted a proposal to a client and then….. silence.
Here are some tips on how to follow up.
HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
You’ve submitted a proposal to a client and then….. silence.
Here are some tips on how to follow up.
Will Bachman 00:01
Welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. Unleashed is produced by Umbrex, which connects you with the world’s top independent management consultants. And I’m your host Will Bachman. Today I want to share some ideas on what to do if a client ghosts you. And this episode is by special request from a listener. I was at a meeting with some other independent consultants and just chatting about what I do. And someone said that they’d love to have an episode on this topic. So here you go. So let’s say you’ve had a great context discussion with a client, and you’ve submitted a proposal and then you hear nothing. So what should you do then? So I’m not going to offer any guarantees. But what I can say is that you hold if you hold off on reaching out to the client, because you don’t want to appear pushy and offend them. Well, that method doesn’t work so great in my experience, so what can work. So first, let’s just acknowledge your perspective. So this is, from your perspective, our perspective as an independent consultant, this proposal of supreme importance to you, maybe it will make the difference between being able to pay more you pay your mortgage or not, you spent the whole weekend working on the proposal that time invested, you feel you deserve an answer, the very minimum, that executive ought to get back to you quickly with feedback. And if you don’t win the project, the client executive ought to take an hour to walk you through all the reasons why you you weren’t picked. Okay? So that’s how we feel. But in the professional services industry, client doesn’t owe us anything. Even if we invested the whole weekend or a whole week in a proposal. That was after all, our choice and our investment. And the client doesn’t exist to give us feedback. We exist to serve the client. Now, let’s say the client doesn’t get back to us right away. Okay. Let’s think about what are the possibilities, and helps to think about the range of what might be going on. So number one, the client awarded the project to some other consultant. or number two, the client has not yet awarded the project anybody. So let’s break down number two. So let’s say the project has not been awarded yet. Why not? Okay, so to a, something changed, and the project is no longer priority. And the client has decided to do it has decided, I’m sorry, the client has decided not to do it, full stop. Okay, so it’s just, they’re no longer going to proceed to be the project is still a near term priority. And the client wants to do it, and has not yet reviewed our proposal, something even more urgent came up, the client has been focusing on that other thing, but as soon as the client can, clients going to review your proposal, alright, to see, the project is still a near term priority, and the client wants to do it. And the client did review your proposal and has some questions or doubts about whether you’re the right solution, but hasn’t gotten around to communicating these questions to you. To D, the project has been de prioritized, but the client still wants to do it. Something more urgent came up. So now they’re thinking about starting in three to four months, but they just haven’t told you that, too. ie, a client is so busy and has so many balls in the air that the client just forgot about the project happens to F, the client, Mr. Email, and they never even opened it. And the client is sitting there wondering when you’re going to send the proposal, or maybe your proposal went to junk mail. So now think through which of these options are more likely. If you have mix Mac’s installed with your email or a similar tool that gives you email superpowers, you can see if the client even opened your email and how many times and when and if your email with their proposal never got opened, then that’s important information, obviously. So think through all these different options of what might be going on in the client side. What’s most likely, and then the the answer to being ghosted, whichever is the whichever is actually happening is to be pleasantly persistent. Okay. So at first consider following up about every two or three days, depending on how urgent the project seemed. And you can mix up the communication tool that you use to these different to send these follow ups. You can send email, obviously, maybe you send a LinkedIn message, send a text message, good call the person on the phone, in terms of what message to send, I like to vary it up. You don’t want to keep sending the same message over and over again, like Hey, what’s the status? What’s the status? What’s the status? So here’s some ways that I mix it up. Hey, just wanted to follow up on the proposal I sent you on Friday. Do you have any fee Another option is, hey, in case you missed my email, I’m responding with a proposal attached. Would you be free this week to touch base and discuss? I always try to include a question in there, not just the statement like, Hey, here’s the proposal, but you want to discuss, so that it makes it easy to respond. Here’s another one. You mentioned when we last spoke that you need to build alignment across the top team, before we move forward with this project. How is that alignment building coming along? Or, hey, how is your thinking evolving on project sunrise? Or have you found the resource you were looking for to help you on the project to increase the conversion rate? Or maybe I’ll refer back to the value at stake we discussed. Here’s another approach. When we last spoke, you thought that project sunrise would likely increase revenue by 10 million and lead to an increase of 3 million in gross profit, any change to that thinking? I’m free on Monday after 2pm if you’d like to reconnect, or maybe I’ll just mention some current events. Hey, just saw the current quarterly earnings release and how the CEO mentioned that the strategy review is a top priority. Would you be open to a quick call to discuss this week? Or I saw the news that your competitor just announced the acquisition of XYZ company, would you be open to reconnecting this week to discuss how that impacts the growth strategy effort that we talked about in February? Or, and I like this last one, sometimes this can be successful at eliciting a response? Would you like to touch base this week about that project. Or if you’ve decided to postpone the project, when would be the right time for me to follow up. So maybe I sound super annoying to you. And that’s one way of looking at it. But I prefer to think of it as pleasantly persistent. One thing that I absolutely never do is communicate any level of frustration or annoyance. I’ve been actually on the receiving end of that, I’ve had service providers email me along the lines of, we put a lot of work into that proposal, and at the very least you could do would be to give us the courtesy of a response. So sending a message like that must be emotionally satisfying to the sender. But it also obviously kills the relationship. Getting a message like that makes me feel bad and a little embarrassed. I know that I owe the person the courtesy of response. But I’ve been so overwhelmed with other stuff that I haven’t gotten around to it. And I haven’t had the mental space or the time. So I like to think of pleasant persistence as a service to the client. After all, at some point, they cared enough about the project, that they took time out of their schedule to meet with me to discuss it. And I know from my own life, that there are projects that I want to do, and I wish that the right service provider would be persistent with me and follow up with me and keep reminding me until they happen to catch me at a time when I have the activation energy to get started. That could be anything from getting an estate plan done to signing up with disability insurance or proving a search engine optimization in my website, stuff that I ought to do that I want to do, that I’m willing to pay for happy to pay for. But you know, maybe I reached out to someone at some point. And I didn’t, you know, complete it. But, you know, I need to remind her what and by the way for them for those three things, those things, three things are done. So if you offer those three services, please don’t call me. I actually did knock those out. There’s other stuff that I’m I on my list. Now, if the client doesn’t want to proceed with my proposal, no problem. All I need to do is send me a one line text or email, something like Hey, sorry, we’ve gone with another firm, or, hey, that’s been deprioritize for now, or looks like we won’t start that until the fall fall with me in September. So I have found that being pleasantly persistent, going, you know, continuing beyond where maybe most people would continue, you know, at least on a weekly basis checking in. I’ve done that in some cases for six months, and I thought it was totally dead. But they never told me it was dead. So I kept following up. And after six months, they just finally said, yeah, that’s Thanks. Great. We’d love to have a conversation around this. Let’s get started. And then boom, you know, a week later, we had a contract signed. It just is like no apologies for not, you know, responding over six months, like yeah, thanks for following up. Let’s get started on this. We’re now ready to go. And I’ve never had anybody, you know, get annoyed or tell me like, you know, shut the EFF up or whatever, just to like, you know, because I kept falling up. People I think, you know, if you’re pleasant about it and persist. People are okay about it. So, to close. Just remember, two mindsets to adopt now. For one, the client owes us nothing. Even if we made an investment. It’s on us to serve the client, not the other way around. And number two, pleasant persistence should not be seen as pestering, but as an act of service. So what do you do when you’ve been ghosted by a client? I’d love to hear your tips and your approach you can email me at email@example.com. And if you have been thinking about giving this show a five star review on iTunes, now would be a fantastic time to do it. It helps other people discover the show. Thanks for listening
Russell S. Reynolds, Jr.