They’ll probably contact you first. But they may not need your offering badly enough to buy from you. So they’ll waste your time if you let them, before they finally say, “Sorry, no deal”.
A recent almost-client brought this home to me in excruciating detail. This North American sales manager was looking for someone to tie his overseas company’s technical documents and presentations together in marketing collateral for their expansion into the U.S.
Over the next two months I researched the product and its competitors, generated proposals with detailed outlines for four pieces, and requested information. I left a lot of voicemail, and got very short email replies without anything definite. I met with him at a local technical conference to discuss the projects, and his marketing budget approval process.
Finally, after he’d conferred several times with his CFO and sent me more terse emails saying no decision yet, they chose someone near the company’s overseas headquarters to do the work.
What can you learn from this?
Deal with the guy who has signature authority whenever possible. This avoids the long-distance committee problem.
If the prospect is eager to talk to you and responds to weekly contacts, he’s interested. If he’s hard to reach and makes one-sentence replies, he’s not.
Work with locals, or people who have a burning need for your one-of-a-kind solution.
If your proposal sits longer than six weeks, it’s a no-go. Smaller organizations should take even less time to get back to you.
If you see any of these, think hard about this prospect. You may be better off marketing to someone else.