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How to create the best possible quotation

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market

When a prospective client invites us to do a quotation we need to realise that this is when the tackie hits the tarmac. This is when our marketing and word-of-mouth endeavours can materialise into tangible outcomes or not. If we get this action wrong we have wasted the time, effort and money that got us to this point.

This article serves as a check list of the elements and packaging of a quotation that will give us a fighting chance of winning a tender or job.

1. Pre-quote Analysis

  • When the prospective client makes the initial contact, it is good practice to get as much information as possible in order to understand the client’s need and also to prepare oneself to have all the “tools” available for doing an accurate quote.

2. On the day of the quote

  • Confirm the time and the address of the client.
  • Pitch up (we have to be there to be able to quote).
  • Be on time (or notify the prospective client if you are running late).
  • Be presentable (a neat, professional appearance).
  • Write down all specifications (leave nothing to chance).
  • Have client referrals and examples of previous projects available (e.g. printed referrals and pictures of other successful projects placed in a flip-file). Give this to the client to look through while you are busy gathering information for doing the quote.

3. After the specifications have been determined and before leaving the client’s premises

Confirm the delivery date of a written quote (confirm if this time frame meets the prospective client’s requirements).

4. Quote e-mail

Write a great introduction which includes these elements:

  • Thank the client for the opportunity of quoting for the business.
  • Confirm the prospective client’s brief, i.e. what the client asked to be quoted on.
  • Edify (stories of satisfied clients).
  • Indicate when the service can be delivered.
  • Provide a link to your website (if you have one).

5. Quotation as e-mail attachment

  • Detailed break-down (individual costing of parts/service elements, as well a labour cost component)
  • The validity period of the quote
  • Deposit needed to secure the job (also provide your banking information – name of bank, branch code of bank, your account name, your account number, the reference to be used)
  • Use a professional letterhead with you branding – if you have one.
  • Make sure the terms and conditions are included in the quote to be signed-off by the client when the quote is accepted.
  • Include a client satisfaction guarantee – money-back guarantee/free repairs if not 100% satisfied, or even something as simple as “We guarantee to be on time for the scheduled job and to leave your premises cleaner than we found it”.

6. Quotation reminder

Send an SMS to the client immediately after the e-mail with the quotation has been submitted.

Proposed wording of the SMS

Good day (name of client). I have e-mailed your quotation to (e-mail address) as promised. Kindly advise if you do not receive it, or have any further questions. We will contact you to follow up on the quote. I look forward to your expedient response and trust that we will be able to do business. Kind regards (your name and the name of your business)”

7. Quotation follow-up

Phone the prospective client to confirm that they have received the quotation, address any further questions and gauge the client’s decision to accept or decline the quote. If the quote is declined, see point 8 for a script example to understand the main consideration for his or her decision.

8. To do after the response on the quote has been received

  • Signed quote :
    • Check if the deposit has been received (if not, address accordingly).
    • Confirm the implementation/delivery date and time with the client.
  • Quote declined
    • Phone the client to determine why you lost the business.

Here is a sample script to consider if the quote was declined:

Good day (name of client), this is  (your name and the name of your business).

Thank you for granting me the opportunity to quote for your business. I respect the fact that you have chosen another service provider. Would you kindly tell me what your main consideration was for choosing another service provider, so that I may address any shortcomings on my part for future application?

(Leave it open-ended – take notes)

Thank you for your feedback. I will take this knowledge on board. I trust that you will keep our information on record for future reference.

Have an excellent day. (Ring off)

9. Implementation

Always deliver more than you quoted for (e.g. deliver faster; upsize your service support; fix something else while you are there, without charging for it).

The task of your implementation is to wow and surprise the client – make it a memorable experience for your client.

10. After implementation

Always ask them to rate your service afterwards (compile a brief questionnaire and let one of your back-office staff phone each client; record the feedback; apply what you have learnt; give recognition where deserved and reprimand and re-train when required).  Ask for referrals and introductions where positive feedback is received.

11. In closing

You can improve your success rate in turning quotes into business if you incorporate a quoting process which is both structured along the lines of this article and implemented in a professional manner.

Remember, getting the quote is important for the livelihood of the business and you.

May your business grow from strength to strength.

“The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.” – Richard Branson

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

Go to www.sanlamgameplan.co.za to download your free copy.

Sanlam is a proud Partner of the NSBC.