Often enough, quotations are standard forms. Easy to use but not very effective, unfortunately. They are boring and the recipient’s attention remains focused on the price. Instead of attracting new customers, they risk doing the opposite. Here are a few suggestions about writing quotations that generate sales.
Whatever you are selling – outdoor windows, security doors or wooden flooring – your clients will ask you for a written quotation. Ask yourself this: “Are my quotations capable of generating a sale, or do they send the client away?”.
Your answer could be one of the two given below:
- calculation of the ratio between quotations written and orders acquired. If this ratio is less than 0.30, most probably you are writing quotations for clients who from the start have little intention of buying your product;
- analysis of the single parts of the quotation to identify which can be improved in order to attract the client more and make the client understand the true value of what he/she is about to purchase. When doing this verification work, it is very useful to listen to what the client has to say to justify the non-purchase.
But let’s start from the beginning. When someone asks you for a quotation, they are showing actual interest in your products. Certainly, you are interested in serving them and you get to work. You talk with them, you show them the products and you highlight the quality. Finally, you give them the quotation.
And what happens then? Does 60-80% of the quotations turn into sales? If not, do you know why? An answer such as: “The competition quoted lower prices” might be true in a minority of cases. So the real reasons for the non-purchase need to be found elsewhere.
Perhaps your quotation is too standard, impersonal. In addition to giving the price, it doesn’t say much about the quality of your product and about the benefits the client will have. Probably, the time has come to dedicate more time to your quotations, to make them better and, in writing them, to focus properly on the client it is intended for.
Using a computer program to write a quotation is quite convenient. The program will describe the features of the door or window, for instance. All of the windows will be illustrated, with the indications of the hardware used, of the EPDM gaskets and of the other components. Most of them, however, will not be easily understood by an inexperienced client because almost certainly it is the first time he or she buys windows.
In this case, the problem is the non-listing and lack of description of the benefits the product offers: energy savings –best not to be left unspecified –, road noise abatement, a 10 year warranty on handle functioning (call it a handle, not something else difficult to understand). Other benefits that should be included are the easy payment conditions and/or on-time delivery.
When the only thing that is clear on the quotation is the price, it is highly probable that the client will start seeking another potential supplier that listens to him/her more closely, that writes a truly customised quotation and that before stating the price lists all of the benefits the client will enjoy once the installation is done. Most probably, that client will say ‘yes’ even if the price asked is higher.
There are dozens of obstacles that can sink a sale, and a misleading or badly presented proposal is one of them. Standardised offers don’t work and should be put aside.
Here are some guidelines for making a quotation work and make the sale easier to achieve:
- The address must be complete and correct. The quotation starts with a brief thank you and then continues with the description of the client’s problem, remembering that the value of the solution proposed stems from the magnitude of the problem in the client’s mind.
- The description of the problem can be replaced with a list of the client’s desiderata expressed, for example, during his/her visit to the showroom or on the occasion of a visit for measurements. The introductory text of the quotation could be something like this: In your home, you wish to have comfortable rooms without noise coming from the road, that are fresh in summer and warm in winter. You also want not to have to spend extra time on window maintenance and you would like to cut down on your heating expenses.
- You can then proceed by indicating the benefits offered by the windows proposed: Our windows will allow you to save 200 euros per year on gas bills. The heat will be uniformly distributed in the rooms and you will be able to read your newspaper even if sitting next to the window. To keep our windows looking nice and new for a long time, all you need to do is periodically clean them thoroughly with the products contained in our maintenance kit. You will also receive a 10 year warranty.
- Now is the time to give a detailed description of the windows, using a standard computer program if you wish. It is important, however, that the descriptions you give remain easily comprehensible for a non-habitual client. If the software is inflexible and does not allow changes, add a legend for the more difficult words and acronyms that gives explanations and indicates the benefits.
- The quotation should end with an invitation to action that envisages a prize, such as a discount of X euros if the order is made within 30 days, for example. Also indicate the offer’s period of validity. You can enrich the quotation by attaching additional documentation, such as the windows’ energy certification, any warranty packages beyond the standard two years provided by law, the coupon for the assistance visit six months after installation. These are just a few of the additions possible.
The structure of a customised offer therefore envisages three central stages: problem, promises, solution (product) proposed.
Remember that it is the importance of the problem that determines the willingness to spend money to obtain an adequate solution. Someone once said: “We are willing to spend a lot in order to save”.
Someone could object that the drafting of such a customised quotation has its costs. But when a quotation structured as suggested above pushes the success rate of your quotations from 30% to 50%, how much profit is that?
Do the math and you will agree that it is better to make a few less standardised (i.e. easy) quotations in order to gain the time required to make those customised quotations that increase sales.