Are you wasting time quoting?

improve your conversion rate

"Time is money," as Benjamin Franklin famously said. But are we, as small business owners, spending our time wisely, especially when it comes to quoting?

This article aims to redefine your perspective on quoting, help you overcome the challenges of unconverted quotes, and provide strategic advice to convert more quotes into profitable sales.

Welcome to Momentum Business Insights, where we share our 21+ years of experience as business coaches helping small business owners thrive. Today, we are discussing a crucial aspect of small businesses – sales conversion.

Are You Really Wasting Time Quoting?

Quoting, for many small business owners, can feel like a time-consuming task with a high degree of uncertainty attached. After all, preparing a quote doesn't guarantee a sale. Why do some businesses convert 75% of their quotes while others struggle to achieve 15%? The answer lies in understanding what quoting truly is.

Contrary to common misconception, quoting is not your entire sales process. Instead, it's an integral part of your sales journey, just like any other business process. The sales process is a series of orchestrated "steps" designed to create successful transactions. Quoting is one such step, a step that requires strategic focus and finesse.

By refining your quoting practices and integrating them into a well-defined sales process, you can transform time-consuming quoting into a time-investing strategy that increases sales. How can you achieve this? Stay tuned as we unfold the secret in our next sections.

1. Nailing Down Your Ideal Client

The first key to transforming your quoting process lies in a profound understanding of your client base. Do you know who your ideal clients are? Not all clients are created equal. Applying the 80:20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, you'll find that about 80% of your revenue and profit likely comes from just 20% of your clients.

The defining characteristics of this top-tier group is worth exploring. What are their needs and expectations? What drives their buying decisions? By answering these questions, you can tailor your sales process, including quoting, to resonate with this group. It's about understanding what's crucial to them and reflecting that understanding in your quotes. This strategy can significantly increase the likelihood of a quote being accepted, thus improving your conversion rate.

2. Finding and Filling Your Niche

The second step is to recognize your business's strengths and limitations. Trying to be all things to all people might make you a jack of all trades but, more likely than not, a master of none. Instead, identify your business's niche – your sweet spot where your expertise meets your clients' needs.

Knowing and communicating your unique value proposition can significantly influence your quoting process. It allows you to quote for jobs that align with your strengths, increasing the probability of delivering high-quality results and boosting client satisfaction. This strategy, in turn, enhances your business reputation and trust, which are vital factors in improving quote conversion rates.

Understanding your niche also allows you to make a strategic decision: to decline to quote. If a job opportunity doesn't fit within your niche or ideal client profile, why invest your precious time in preparing a quote? Learning when to say 'no' is an underappreciated skill that can save you time, resources, and potential harm to your business reputation.

3. Elevate Your Communication

Steve Jobs once said, "One of the deep mysteries to me is our logo, the symbol of lust and knowledge, bitten into, all crossed with the colours of the rainbow in the wrong order. You couldn't dream of a more appropriate logo: lust, knowledge, hope, and anarchy."

This quote underlines the importance of effective communication in business. It's not just about what you say; it's also about how you say it. The same principle applies when you're communicating with prospective clients. From the moment you receive a request to quote, every interaction sends a strong message about what they can expect if they choose to work with you.

Data from Salesforce suggests that 66% [1] of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. This understanding should be reflected in all your communication with your clients, starting with acknowledging their request for a quote. Such professional interactions can set you apart and enhance your quote conversion rate.

4. Streamline Your Quoting Process

Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, said, "Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs." This statement remains true in our discussion about the quoting process. Although each job might seem unique, almost all jobs require certain common processes.

By identifying these commonalities, you can create a streamlined quoting system, increasing efficiency and accuracy. A streamlined process not only saves time but also allows for consistency, which is a key factor in building trust with your clients. For instance, one of our clients, who owns a steel fabrication business, created a quoting system and reduced his estimator's quoting time by 80% while simultaneously increasing his accuracy.

So, take a cue from Ford, break down the process into manageable steps, systematize them, and see how it enhances your business performance and quote conversion rates.

5. Transform Your Quotes into Action Plans

Consider this, "Don't sell products, sell solutions." This quote from Levi Strauss & Co. CEO, Chip Bergh, speaks to the heart of modern business strategy. One way you can apply this approach is by turning your quotes into action plans.

Most businesses send out quotes that are just a list of services and their costs. But what if you took it a step further and included sales and marketing messages within your quotes? Use this opportunity to reinforce the benefits of choosing your business over your competitors. Highlight your unique selling propositions, testimonials, and other compelling reasons. Don't give your prospects an excuse to base their decision solely on price.

6. Persistence Pays: The Art of Follow-Up

As Will Rogers, a famous American actor, once said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Simply sending out a quote and waiting for a response may not cut it in today's competitive business environment.

You never know where a prospect is in their buying cycle. However, regular and professional follow-ups can significantly increase your chances of converting a quote to a sale. Therefore, persistence in follow-ups could mean the difference between losing a potential client and closing a deal.

7. Know Your Numbers!

In the words of Peter Drucker, "What gets measured gets improved." This is particularly true for your sales process. Keep track of your leads, the number of quotes sent out, and the conversion rate. This data will help you identify where you're doing well and where you need to improve.

For instance, if you find that you're sending out a lot of quotes but only converting a few, it might be time to revisit your follow-up process or your quotes themselves. Knowing your numbers is the first step towards improving them.

A Case Study: The Follow-Up Fallacy

The following true story I'm about to share highlights the importance of a well-structured quote-to-sales conversion process.

David and his wife were near the end of renovating their home. The final touch was the fit-out for their walk-in wardrobe, a project they were eagerly anticipating. They invited three companies to provide quotes for the project. Of the three, only two showed up for the appointment. Both companies measured up, discussed layout and colours, then promised to send quotations.

Both companies did eventually send quotations, but only after several reminder calls from David. However, after all this effort, neither company followed up on their quote. This lack of communication surprised and disappointed David. After all, they had invested time and resources into providing these quotes, only to let them gather dust in an email inbox.

Fast forward six months, David and his wife were ready to revisit the project. They contacted another company. This time, the experience was different. The new company was capable, competitive, and crucially, they followed up three days after providing the quote. Needless to say, they got the job.

The lesson from this story is clear: the companies that lost David’s business didn't appreciate the value of professional follow-up. They saw quoting as a one-off process rather than an integral part of the customer journey.

Just because a prospect said "no" today, doesn't mean they'll say it again tomorrow!

A study by Marketing Donut [2] revealed that 80% of potential opportunities are lost without trace simply due to lack of follow-up. So, don't let a "no" today discourage you. Remain connected with the prospect. Regular marketing touchpoints with special offers or product innovations can keep your business top of mind for when they're ready to say "yes."

Wrapping it up

Improving your quote conversion rate isn't about quick fixes. It requires a comprehensive review of your sales process, a strong focus on your ideal clients, and persistence in follow-ups. It may take some time and effort, but the rewards in improved sales performance are well worth it.

Next steps

We at Momentum Business Improvement are here to support you every step of the way. Take the first step in transforming your quote conversion process by booking a Clarity Call with us.

Or jump over to our online courses…there is a great course just for you.

Remember, Momentum Business Improvement is here to support you every step of the way. Let’s embark on this journey together, improving businesses and changing lives. 

Momentum: Improve your business…change your life!


[1] Source: Salesforce What Are Customer Expectations, and How Have They Changed?

[2] Source: Marketing Donut Why you must follow up leads.

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