To start with, this situation is less likely to happen when dealing with a good client who would not typically want to alienate you, but there are always exceptions. This is more typical with prospects, especially mid sized ones. Smaller clients do this usually less often as it is difficult to waste lots of vendors time on small potatoes and large clients have an approved vendors list and go with those with a combination of low price and the ability to meet the specific requirements of their RFP (request for proposal). On the other hand you might even go into providing a bid to anyone if you believe that getting your foot in the door might pay off sooner or later.
But how do you smoke out those who are truly wasting your time? The first thing you want to look out for is the degree of interest in your services and questions about your company. Have you ever given them a quote in the past with no meaningful feedback? Are they asking you to just give them a price and want to know nothing else about your company or ability to deliver? Are they willing to meet with you to discuss you bid and terms of service? Is there anyone to speak with regarding the quote, assuming this is not a structured RFP?
If providing the prospect with a quote that takes no time at all this might still be OK. But if you are going to have to jump through hoops, waste a lot of time, resources and money you might just walk away from these wild duck chases before you find out you have been played. Going after new business is always a crap shoot, but the more experience you have the more likely you will be able to spot and walk away from phony business and spend your time on those quoting jobs that may actually pay off. .
To see all articles in this series please go to http://optimal-mgt.com/blog.