Before you submit a proposal, you’re in an ongoing dialog with your prospects, e-mailing back and forth. Then, with some, as soon as you submit the proposal, silence reigns and you never hear from them again. That’s the “black hole.” If this happens to you, know that you’re not alone.
People are so busy these days that they rarely take the time to let you know what happened. It’s discourteous and unprofessional, but it’s becoming the norm. Whether there was a shift in their priorities or they awarded the project to someone else, you may never find out. Sometimes you have to accept that fact.
However, don’t disappear into that black hole yourself. Stay in the game. Here are three ways to do that:
1. Leave a final message. If it’s clear that the project isn’t going to happen within the time frame you’d anticipated, don’t just slink away. Put some closure to the process by leaving a final voice mail message along these lines: “I haven’t heard from you, so I don’t know what happened with the proposal we sent, but it looks like it’s not going to happen within the time frame we discussed. So I just wanted to let you know that we’re still interested in pursuing this if and when you are. I will touch base again in a month.” Then send that same message via e-mail, so they have it in writing (and because they just may respond to it).
2. Check in to see how it’s going. This is especially important if they did award the project to someone else. Let some time go by, then call to see how it’s going. They may have chosen the low bidder and are paying for it now with low-quality work. If you happen to call and things aren’t going well, you might be the perfect solution to their problems.
3. Stay in touch. Obviously, you shouldn’t stalk your prospects, but you also mustn’t drop out of sight. Let your marketing kick in by staying in touch via an e-mail newsletter or regular postcard mailings to stay top of mind.
For more from Ilese Benun pick up her Proposal Bundle for Designers: 25 Resources for Project-Winning Proposals. In the new Proposal Bundle, you’ll find 11 actual proposals that you can use as models to create your own template, improve your existing template and/or to customize a specific proposal you’re working on.