Professional Courtesy?

mchutchmchutch Posts: 7subscriber
edited July 2007 in Business Planning
Has the following scenario happened to other entrepeneurs?
I have had several requests for proposals from various people across the
country. After discussing their project in detail, I go through the time and
effort to put together a project proposal and send it off to them never to
hear a word again. Overall, I have learned that it`s probably part of the
course of running a business and as I have been extremely busy with
other clients and projects that I don`t think about it that much.

However, I don`t know if it`s just me but whenever I request an estimate
or job proposal from vendors, I always acknowledge the receipt and
follow up with them either letting them know either the project was
awarded to someonelse or the scheduling did not work out, or that it is
more than the budget would allow. It`s just a matter of professional
courtesy. Perhaps it`s just me ranting but it makes sense to me
acknowledge that a person has taken the time to review your project and
put together a document for you. It may the difference between being
treated as a commodity business or a professional services business.
Maybe, it`s a good screening device for potential clients. Afterall, do you
really want to work for someone who does not respond and respect your
time?

Comments

  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark Posts: 103subscriber
    It`s called the "unpaid consultant" syndrome.  I have people call and write wanting a free proposal all the time on how to protect their intellectual property.  I opt to send them a fee agreement and play with my kids.  Life is to short to give it away to people that are not serious.  I`ll spend a few minutes on the phone once - that`s it.
  • robertjrobertj Tampa Bay, FloridaPosts: 0subscriber Member
    I think every professional services provider I know has the same experience.
    It seems to be two issues:

    A courtesy thing. As Craig says - growing up I was taught to send thank you notes to even the closest relatives for presents received on birthday and Christmas. Today, it seems like most people don`t even know what RSVP means let along doing it.
    Then there are those who use the proposal process as a means of getting information, guidance and advice. I try to avoid these types. However, there are others who get a variation of "sticker shock" from a proposal  (a different discussion topic?) and take the avoidance path. We`ve developed a prospect development path that begins with a "no obligation" (free) 30-minute interview (to get to know more about each other) -moves on to a "short form" or outline of a proposal and (hopefully) culminates in an agreement for services. We`ve also created some "service packages" which reduce our proposal development time.
    Sorry I can`t solve the courtesy issue but believe me you are not alone. Unfortunately it is a fact of business life.
     
  • robertjrobertj Tampa Bay, FloridaPosts: 0subscriber Member
    Kim,
    I understand - but I think there is a difference between email messages (which might include unsolicited messages and copies of messages addressed to others - a common behavior in the corporate world) and something that the receiver specifically requested - such as a proposal.
    Robert
  • iouone2iouone2 Posts: 14subscriber

    mchutch
    ... Absolutely right!I believe it`s mostly part of the "I`m so busy" factor. As time moves forward, businesses expect more efficiency from individual workers. In order to get more out of their employee, they add more tasks to the day. Individual workers start allocating less and less time for the "ritual and courtesy" side of business. There just isn`t enough time to do everything right. There are too many hot issues. So... less proper communication results. It`s unfortunate.
  • mchutchmchutch Posts: 7subscriber
    True, people are more pressed for time and you have to prioritize.
    But, if you have the time to discuss your project and request a proposal, you
    should have the time (or make the time) to acknowledge receipt and inform
    the sender of the status of the proposal. It usually takes a few seconds to
    reply via email.
  • mchutchmchutch Posts: 7subscriber
    nhgnikole: You are indeed very lucky that it hasn`t happened to you.

    I agree, if people are shopping on price they aren`t my customer either.

    My proposals are not huge. I come from a large agency background and
    writing proposals is part of determining the scope of a project, services,
    deliverables, etc. It protects both parties and you are able to change order
    if there is a change of scope. Most of my current clients don`t even ask for
    proposals anymore unless they are trying to get budget approvals from
    departments in their companies. Most of my work is 95% through
    referrals and not generally from people who do web searches either.

    I am just saying that if I find it just unprofessional that if you spend to the
    time request a proposal specifically from a business that you do not
    respond with an acknowledgement. I am not talking about a cattle call
    request for proposal which I do not respond to unless it would be along
    the like say redoing the brand identity and environmental signage for the
    likes of the Tate Modern or the MOMA.

    Like, I said before I don`t really think about it if I don`t hear back as there
    have been only a few. I usually am able to screen out the ones prior to
    writing a proposal either via by phone or email after their initial contact.
    As for the ones who don`t respond after sending a requested proposal,
    it`s probably good that they do not respond, it gets rid of those people
    who are flaky and aren`t serious before starting work.

    I would also think that asking for 30 proposals would be self-defeating. It
    just a waist of everybody`s time.
  • mchutchmchutch Posts: 7subscriber
    I`m sorry but most of my new clients require proposals before starting
    work. This is after the initial phone or meeting interview to go over the
    general scope of a project. I have turned down projects based on this
    initial meeting or phone call. Perhaps your client base is different.
    And I want a signed proposal before starting work. My proposals are a
    binding contract with terms that helps keep things on track and there is
    no question about fee or payment.

    I have seen too many firms get burned just doing things without a signed
    job proposal. It`s a different story for existing clients as there is a
    relationship and history there.

    When I do send a proposal, I always let the recipient know that they
    should contact me if they have questions. The next steps are generally to
    either sign the proposal, request revising the scope of the project so that
    the proposal falls within a budget, acknowledge receipt, or declining the
    proposal because of budget, timing, etc. Also, I am not waiting around for
    a response either as I am just too busy with other signed clients` work.

    We all get vast amounts of email each day. Yes, I ignore some of them,
    especially the sales or unsolicited ones.

    It`s only been less than a handful of proposals that I have had no
    response to, so I am not really concerned with it.

    The point of this forum was not whether you write proposals or not or
    marketing techniques or if you respond to all of your email. The point is
    that, in my opinion, it is just professional courtesy if a proposal is
    requested from a specific firm for a project that has been reviewed
    discussed that it be acknowledged and that the firm be notified of the
    status i.e. we have decided to go with another firm, the project has been
    delayed or cancelled, more than the budget we have, etc. Obviously, it
    was important enough to have contacted a business for a proposal.
    Otherwise, it`s a waste of time for all involved. But then again, a no reply
    is a very telling tale of a potential client`s character. For my own business,
    I choose not to operate that way.

    mchutch2007-7-13 3:35:47
  • mchutchmchutch Posts: 7subscriber
    Thanks for your suggestions. I have been lucky as I have not had to really
    had to look for clients. They usually are referred to me. I also worked for an
    excellent large design firm, one of the best in the country and picked up the
    format of a proposal that I base the my proposals on. My proposals are
    pretty streamlined and succinct at this point. I don`t feel taken advantage of
    when I send a requested proposal out. Like I said, it`s not a lot proposals
    that get no response, probably only 4 since I started. The majority of my
    proposals get signed no problem. I am more miffed at the lack of courtesy.
    mchutch2007-7-13 3:54:37
  • SecurityProfessionalSecurityProfessional Posts: 2subscriber
    Mary,
    You have touched on a subject that really bothers me as well - people who won`t even return a call or email after you have went to considerable trouble to prepare a proposal at their request. The proposals that I write often take eight hours or more to prepare and represent a serious investment in time. 
    But after more than twenty years in the consulting business, this is something that I have reluctantly grown to accept. Marketing and proposal writing is somewhat of a numbers game, and as long as you win enough of the proposals you write, things will work out fine. (But it still hurts to lose...)
    Two things that have helped me.
    First, I do a little better job of prequalifying a prospect before agree to write a proposal. During my initial conversation with the prospective client, I usually quote a general price range for the requested service and ask if this is within their budget. Many prospects have no clue as to what professional consulting services cost and are blown out of the water when they hear the price.
    Second, I sometimes ask that prospective clients "do something first" before I take the time to write a proposal. For example, I may ask them to write up a brief written description of the type of services that they want and send it to me before I will write a proposal. Most serious prospects won`t object to this, but the people who are "window shopping" won`t make the effort to follow-through.
    Finally, just like you, I make an extra effort to be courteous to the vendors who submit proposals to me. I know what it feels like to be on the other end.
    By the way, I love your website! Very impressive portfolio.
     
  • aedavisaedavis Posts: 7subscriber
    Mary I agree as well I make sure when someone helps me I say thank you I am a hairstylist and every time I do a clients hair I call them 2 to 3 days later and tell them thank you for coming as well to see if they are having any problems maintaining there style so I agree that people ask for help and when they get it they for get who help them or who advise them. so I would like to say I need help and thank you
    April
  • iouone2iouone2 Posts: 14subscriber
    Recently I was asked to participate in an event that would likely have significantly increased sales at Elusive Treasures. Order fulfillment would have certainly been a problem. Therefore, I am not going to be involved. Through correspondence, I was instructed to contact the producer of the even by a specified date, so I could secure a position in the event. If I don`t contact him by then, the opportunity will be passed to some other business.I could have let this opportunity die, and that would be the end. Instead, I contacted the producer and described a bit more about my product`s scarcity. Our products only have a few hundred of produced. I don`t think I could effectively deliver if orders became hot on one item.Our long conversation lead to the producer investigating my business further with curious interest. There may be something we can do together in the future.If I wasn`t "courteous" by giving the producer time to find a replacement, I wouldn`t have had such a wonderful conversation with him.
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