By using Apprenticeforums services you agree to our Cookies Use and Data Transfer outside the EU.
We and our partners operate globally and use cookies, including for analytics, personalisation, ads and Newsletters.

  • Join our UK Small business Forum

    Helping business owners with every day advice, tips and discussions with likeminded business owners. Become apart of a community surrounded by level headed business folk from around the UK

    Join us!

Making An Online Enquiry

  • Thread starter Branded Merchandise
  • Start date

Branded Merchandise

New Member
Over the last couple of days I've been looking to see if we can refresh the way we deal with online enquiries from our website (the end goal being to convert more enquiries into sales) So I'd be very interested in your views on the following areas as it might help us tweak some things. Our business sells promotional merchandise but the concepts are similar for any line of business. Users click on a product on our website and fill in a short enquiry form requesting a quote:

1) Phone or E-mail reply - When you make an enquiry for a product online, would you prefer to be e-mailed the quote or phoned? Or both?

2) PDF quote or quote written within e-mail - Does this impact your perception of the company at all? We provide our quotes within the text of the e-mail. Does providing a PDF quote (with your company header etc) impact on perception? In my mind, I'd rather receive it within the e-mail as it saves me clicking and opening an unnecessary file but I think I may be the minority on this one

3) Time to reply - We try to reply to all enquiries within an hour or 2 (during the working day) However I've discovered most of our competitors can take up to a day, or longer to reply. Does the timeliness of reply impact on your perception of a company and whether you eventually buy from them? Is there such a thing as replying too soon? (perhaps indicating lack of business, not busy etc?) Obviously the reality is that our competitors are busier than we are! Just wondering if that impacts the minds of any potential customers

4) Something different? - Have you ever experienced a company doing something different when offering a quote? Something that stood out?

I'm just trying to gather any nugget of knowledge that can help us improve in this area. We're recently finding that we are getting beaten on price by our competitors. People will enquire prices from 5/6 suppliers and it's just a battle of prices. So I'm looking to see if there's anything we can do in the quote process to maybe improve our strike-rate

Stephen Sherry

Stephen Sherry

New Member
1) Phone or E-mail reply:

I like a call before a quote is provided. It demonstrates pro-activeness and an interest to build a relationship, so if you can give any inbound enquiry a ring. You can find out how they found you and the story behind the enquiry. Many small businesses are too quick to fire out a quote before learning more about the enquiry! Always qualify that enquiry. You may be missing out on an enhanced opportunity or you can quickly find out if its someone going round the houses looking for a price point.

2) PDF quote or quote written within e-mail:

If someone is looking for just a ballpark figure, then there is nothing wrong with the quote written within the email. This is where that initial call is important as there is no point sending a nice PDF at that stage! Inbound enquiries are not leads in my view.. Qualify!

3) Time To Reply -
In my previous life working for a large company, we were told to respond to any enquiry within a two hour time frame. Today in the exciting world of the SMB, I respond within two to four hours depending on workload If they are a good prospect, they will understand. Its a fine line between being proactive and perhaps over eager, I remember I once called a prospective customer within 5 minutes of his enquiry and he told me off as he felt I was a salesman looking for a quick order! - an extreme and rare response thankfully..

4) Something different?

Hmmm... Not really.. I look forward to other responses to this question!


You mentioned that its a battle of prices. Do you do any sort of qualification? Are you and your competition quoting on exactly like for like? If so, then you must demonstrate your value over the competition. Your products are not as cheap , so tell people why and what they are getting for the higher price.

Hope some of that helps!
Gemma Rowlands

Gemma Rowlands

New Member
1) Phone or E-mail reply - Personally, I ALWAYS prefer email. That way, you have a record of the response, can read it again if you need to, and can think about what you're going to reply back if this applies to your query. I can't even count the number of times I've come off the phone with someone and then remembered something else I needed to ask, so then I had to start the WHOLE process again.

2) PDF quote or quote written within e-mail - Okay, I think a quote within the email is fine, WITH an attached PDF of the official quote document. Something like "we are pleased to offer you a quote of £2,300 for the work required, as detailed in the attached document". That way they get the information quickly and have the official document to back it up.

3) Time to reply - The time to reply definitely makes a difference to me with a company. I like to reply as soon as possible as well, though it's not always easy! Be as fast as you possibly can, and clients will respect you for it.

4) Something different? - I have had one or two companies do kind of "build your own" quotes where I was given a list of things that they charge for, the put together a quote based on the bits I needed - kind of like a car wash menu lol - but obviously that wouldn't work for everyone. A straight forward quote for the work they've asked for is absolutely fine.

Pete Brindle

New Member
I prefer email replies every time. And as fast as possible. Polite. And please make sure whoever responds can speak the language. I've had too many conversations with people who just couldn't understand what I was asking for because of the language barrier, and it's the most frustrating thing ever.

Branded Merchandise

New Member
Thanks guys, some really interesting replies.

Very useful to hear your point of view Stephen, given your background. I think something we neglect is as you say qualifying the enquiry. In our haste to respond to enquiries in a timely manner, we are probably not doing this as well as we could.

Something we're implementing now is adding an optional telephone number to the enquiry form. That way, anyone who doesn't want to be pestered by a phonecall can leave it empty and we will respond by e-mail. Anyone who puts their phone number in would probably prefer a phone call to an e-mail.


New Member
obviously, the reality is that our competitors are busier than we are! Just wondering if that impacts the minds of any potential customers


New Member
obviously, the reality is that our competitors are busier than we are! Just wondering if that impacts the minds of any potential customers
The classic case of competitors being the life of the party, leaving us with more elbow room in the business bash! It's like they've got a dance floor full of customers, while we're over here practicing our business moonwalk.


New Member
I have been interested in this for a long time, thank you