Should we charge to quote?

I’m currently thinking of ways of taking ourselves out of the continued, “Also-Rans” situation when a potential client just uses (abuses) us to fulfil their “3-quote” due diligence requirement.

Preamble:

Over the last 18 months, I’ve had a potential client request a number of quotations. Each time they have been left open as a “maybe but not just yet” – First off this tells me that I’ve not done my job right (or in theory anyway), which in its own right is a bit of a worry, as I’ve been doing this job for long enough to know when, and when not, to quote. Secondly, when I did a little bit of digging the other day, I noticed that 2 of the jobs we quoted for have been completed but even when armed with this knowledge I was informed by my contact there that they were still on hold. Curious to say the least. Finally, another request came in for a quote and I’d pretty much had enough of being made to look a fool. Not only does this affect my KPIs but it also, far more importantly, takes me away from working with other potentials who are far more likely to respect the work I do for them and honour me with an answer either way. So this time I pushed back and I’ve heard nothing since.

Why does quoting cost so much?

In its most simple form, there are approximately 4 people involved in preparing an accurate new quote for a new prospect. There is a tech team, a projects team, a finance team and a sales team. We’re very thorough in our approach and this reaps rewards later in the process so it is generally considered time well spent, provided that they say yes at some point of course. It is all part of the client acquisition process and it is also the reason why it forms part of our KPIs. Depending on the magnitude of the request, this can become a quite lengthy process too and involve almost double the number of personnel. Consequently, this process has a real monetary value associated with it, one which we offer for free as part of our service. For the most part, this later becomes a much simpler process, once the client is on-boarded, and the cost of quoting is then reduced.

When a client, therefore, repeatedly goes through the same initial process time and time again, without ordering, this can become an issue. To resolve this issue,  on this occasion, I did something that I’ve not had to do before in this industry. I charged for the quote, well I told them that I would be doing at least, they consequently said that they didn’t want it and I’ve, unsurprisingly, not heard from them since.

So here’s my question! Do you believe that you should charge for quotations, and at what point in the client acquisition process do you make that decision?

Or, do you believe that they should always be factored into the cost of sale?

 

Integrity

Here in the UK, it is the day of our general election and this latest “buzz word” has become one of the most over-, and misused, words during a dirty and personal campaign. One where honesty and morals were certainly not on the top of everyone’s agenda. Not surprisingly then, upon hearing someone tell you how honest and moral they are, your initial reaction is one of mistrust. Politicians certainly have a lot to answer for!

But is it just politicians who are to blame? No, is the short answer. They are the ones who are “en vogue” right now but just a short step back in time provides us with evidence of other “supposable” reputable groups of people doing the exact same thing. Bankers, the Police, Lawyers, Priests, Kings, Queens, celebrities, in fact, the list goes on and on and all of whom have somehow been entangled in some reputation damaging scandal that has resulted in mistrust. We’ve created a whole new generation of scepticism.

In my industry, as a language service provider, we too have had our fair share of scandal and bad press. You don’t have to do too much Googling to uncover some highly amusing bad translations, warring factions within a company causing irreparable damage to it and its ultimate demise, and stories of rabbits becoming accredited court interpreters. Is there any wonder then, when a sales person, who also carries with them a professional stigma too, approaches somebody about being able to help them with their language needs that they get a very frosty response? It is, quite frankly, a difficult one to overcome. Especially as within this industry there is a very strong human bias in the final delivery of the service. Linguists, Project Managers, File Technicians, Vendor Management Teams, Salespeople and then all the usual company administration teams, all mean that, at some point, mistakes are inevitable. Therefore a strong emphasis on how you, as a company and a salesperson, deal with these human errors is something that can truly distinguish you from your peers.

It is herein that the word integrity is of real value! Do you have an integrity DNA strand in your professional and personal lifeline?

In a world where social media places your life on public display, it can be very easy for somebody to take a look at what you’re saying and doing almost 24/7. In fact, when somebody doesn’t have a social media presence, they are often seen as “wanting to hide something”. So here’s the rub, whenever you’re online, be that on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or wherever, you have to be aware that this is going to become your digital DNA, both as a person and as a company. If integrity doesn’t shine through here, then you might as well have a 1-star review on Amazon.