Small businesses win work by using sales quotes (also known as price quotes). Yet they often don’t realise that how they prepare and create quotes can cost them business. Many lose revenue by not following up on quotes or turning quotes around fast enough.
According to a recent US survey, the number one financial challenge of small businesses is cashflow and getting paid*. Getting on top of the quoting process can reduce the number of days to acceptance, which reduces the number of days to getting paid and improves your cashflow.
So, getting on top of your quotes make a real difference. Xero’s Head of Accounting, James Solomons, offers the following tips to help you prepare and create quotes that get accepted:
1. Ensure your sales quotes are properly constructed
A sales quote is often the first impression of your business that you give to prospective clients. Every quote that you send out should tell the client a little bit about your business. It should detail the prices, costs and services that they’re expected to receive. Include terms and conditions in plain English. Make sure the branding of the quote is consistent with your business’s brand (different looks and experiences will confuse your clients). And, most importantly, use a call to action at the end through an acceptance or modification process. A clear and simple quote increases the chance of a sale the first time and reduces the back and forth effort.
2. Send a quote within 24 hours
It’s a good idea to use cloud software to quickly prepare and send quotes on the spot or immediately after an initial meeting. This efficiency helps you to respond to an opportunity anytime, anywhere – without the need to return to the office to construct a quote.
3. Embed a quoting engine on your website
You may not always be able to meet your client in person. But a quoting engine on your site speeds up the process and allows customers to do business with you 24/7.
4. Follow up within two to three days of sending
Sometimes, business or industry protocol dictates when you should follow up. However, it is always best that you strike while the iron’s hot. Once you’ve quoted, follow up between 24 to 48 hours after to ensure that the client has received and understood the quote. This is a good way to get in front of your client and give the quote every chance of being accepted.
5. Ask the questions and learn from mistakes
Always remember to ask potential customers why they didn’t accept your quote. You may learn that you need to improve the sales or quote process, or perhaps clarify the content within the quote. Regardless, there’s a lesson to be learned from every quote.
Xero makes it easy
If you’re managing your finances through spreadsheets, you probably aren’t always aware of your workflow and where quotes are sitting in the sales process. It’s important to have this information at your fingertips at all times. With accounting software like Xero, you can see a summary of your quotes in progress including draft, sent, accepted and expired quotes. This makes it easy to track the status of a quote, follow up on quotes that have been sent but not accepted – and generally keep your business moving.
*The results of this study were taken from a random US sample of over 500 small business owners. The research was commissioned by Xero and independently conducted by market research company, Zogby Analytics.