You already know that churning out winning proposals is imperative to increase close rates. Have you considered that ‘proposal development’ means more than successful proposal writing? Strategic proposal processes can streamline workflows for sales team members.
Here’s how you can optimize your proposal processes and take your win strategies to a whole new level.
Reduce roadblocks for sales reps
Sales reps face many challenges throughout the business lifecycle. Many of these challenges, however, are not directly linked to selling. A sales productivity study conducted by Salesforce in 2015 found that salespeople typically spend a third of the workday actually selling. The average sales rep spends around 31% of his or her workday researching and creating content, while another 20% of the day goes into reporting administrative and CRM-related tasks.
While these tasks may be a necessary evil for sales reps, a unified proposal process could reduce the time suck. Avoid roadblocks to closing sales by using proposal management software that helps you make efficient use of your talent and resources.
Proposal software isn’t just for proposal managers: sales reps can (and should) use it to collaborate with other team members.
In addition, giving sales managers insight into important proposal development metrics allows them to troubleshoot stalled proposals. By offering transparent business proposal workspaces, you reduce the time it takes to collect information and optimize your proposal process.
Why proposal processes matter
Your business can’t completely eliminate the time sales reps spend on reporting and administrative tasks. Here are some ways a more efficient proposal process can help you close more sales along with some examples of how real businesses achieved it.
Some businesses modified their proposal management to save time and reduce costs.
Check out their examples and learn how you can incorporate dynamic proposal processes that accelerate your entire proposal lifecycle.
Use software that increases sales productivity
Sales productivity challenges do not correlate directly to a sales rep’s past performance. Leading sales reps in particular face productivity challenges that impact individual performance and proposal teams.
In fact, as McKinsey & Co. report, “Highly paid field reps spend 45% of their time on internal sales support and tracking the progress of deals.”
By using proposal management software, you can give sales reps more time to focus on lead generation and their primary sales goals.
Business proposal software can also help sales reps and proposal teams boost productivity together. Proposal writers can quickly and easily create proposals as they collaborate with sales reps. After that, both teams save time because the proposal software allows them to repurpose materials. In addition, sales team members can track the entire proposal process to ensure the deal closes without a hitch.
Productivity success story
Agency Revolution noticed an opportunity to improve their proposal process and speed up productivity. They decided to update their old-fashioned proposal techniques, which involved Microsoft Word, printing, scanning, and faxing. They also converted their outdated proposal development process to a CRM proposal system.
As a result, they saw an 800% increase in productivity and contracts began closing in just thirty seconds.
Add visual elements to increase conversions
Traditionally, sales reps connect with clients by phone and in person to discover request for proposal (RFP) needs. However, you can further your proposal win strategy by offering dynamic content to your clients.
“65% of the population consists of visual learners. This can work to your advantage when it comes to closing deals.”According to education experts at Pearson
Visual elements in proposals
By adding visual content (e.g. charts, graphics, or even video) that appeals to visual learners, you’ll capture the attention of decision-makers who retain information visually. In the same thread, adding visual elements to your proposal can ensure all clients fully digest your pitch.
When proposals regularly incorporate graphics, charts, and infographics, clients are exposed to more impactful context. The greater the impact, the better your chances of winning.
Using creative visuals to increase conversions
As a creative studio working in graphic design, web design, advertising, and direct mail, Pixelhaus naturally focuses on creative assets. This company needed a proposal process that would complement their services while allowing them to maintain the quality of service that their clients expect.
“As much as I’d like to put it down to our fabulousness, we have to take our hats off to PandaDoc. It allows us to respond quicker to quotation requests and track the client’s activity.”Richard Gosler, Creative Director
Pixelhaus sought to capture more revenue by switching to CRM proposal software. This change enabled them to improve RFP response times and track client activity. These improvements paid off: their conversions shot up by 50%.
Reinvest to grow your business
Updating your proposal software can ultimately save both time and money in your pitching process. It also offers the significant benefit of reducing paperwork. This often lowers supply overhead noticeably, which frees up revenue that can be reinvested back into your company to help you scale faster.
Save time and scale faster
With a diverse team spanning across the country, Blue Raven Solar was growing at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, they were struggling to keep up with the massive amounts of physical documents handled by their proposal team.
“PandaDoc is easy to use and has a simple sending process. It is nice to have so many documents in one easily accessible place.”Rachel Cook, Blue Raven’s Human Resources Administrator
To solve this problem, they migrated to a CRM proposal and document creation process. Ultimately, Blue Raven Solar saved countless hours previously spent managing paperwork and tracking documentation. Most importantly, their new proposal processes now save the company thousands of dollars per year.
Get deeper insights into your sales process
While a cutting-edge proposal process helps drive success for some businesses, it may not seem like a necessity for others. Companies that do not rely on pitching to clients may assume that they can get by with outdated proposal management technology. However, they should consider that a subpar proposal effort results in unimpressive and unprofessional business proposals.
Additionally, outdated software does not offer business-critical insights into your sales proposal process. Investing in professional proposal software empowers you to track proposal submissions and other valuable insights into your sales process.
Using proposal insights to close sales
PixelFLEX needed better line-item focused proposals, so they decided to give their proposal document workflow a major overhaul. By combining PandaDoc with Salesforce, they gathered insights into how their clients were interacting with the proposal information.
They used this data to improve closing sales, ultimately tripling their proposal volume and skyrocketing their growth by 300%.
Focus on repurposing your best proposals
By relying on your best-performing proposals, you can save both time and money. By reusing graphics, copy, and data, you can also reduce the time it takes to close the sale. Reusing proposal elements can be a challenge with freemium proposal software because these programs usually lack user-driven tools that allow you to quickly scale across multiple proposals.
PandaDoc, however, makes repurposing easy with pre-designed templates and tokens. Proposal writers can insert the tokens into the content blocks of the proposal to auto-fill information such as your business details or specific client fields.
Repurposing proposals to reduce costs and save time
Stackla knew that they needed to become more self-sufficient by quickly creating customized content while reusing their best proposals. Therefore, they used proposal management software to create a client content library to improve the proposal process and get their sales reps up and running quickly. Changing these proposal processes also reduced both costs and time required to onboard and train their sales team.
“We cannot thank PandaDoc templates enough. They’ve allowed our marketing team to ensure that every proposal that’s sent out adheres to our brand guidelines while letting our sales team to be infinitely more productive by allowing each rep to easily tailor their proposals to their prospects vertical and role, in half the time.”Mallory Wash, VP of Marketing at Stackla
Speed-up the process of securing digital signatures
Freemium programs do not offer a way to capture legally binding signatures.
According to P&S Market Research, the digital signature market is expected to grow at a 31,5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016 to 2022.
This means that your clients expect the ability to digitally sign proposal documents. Time is of the essence for potential clients to sign proposals and get the business relationship started on the right foot.
Faster close rates with digital signatures
Blueface decided to use PandaDoc as an all-inclusive proposal solution to create professional proposals and legally-secure signatures. This proposal process update shaved three to five days off their time-to-signature process and trimmed their proposal creation time from up to an hour to just minutes.
“We were looking to cut the time our sales team had to spend copying the contact information from Base to PandaDoc in order to send a proposal. Even though I am not a technical person, the guides PandaDoc provided, as well as fast and effective technical support made it easy for me to implement that integration. PandaDoc helped our sales team to automate tasks and save time yet again.”Kamila Cholko, Blueface Marketing Executive
Team members now spend less than a quarter of their time on proposals and have increased their close rates by double digits.
Like many of the success stories above, these proposal processes could help your team create proposals quickly and increase your close rate.
Which proposal process strategy will work best for you? Share your thoughts below in the comment section.
Originally published July 7, 2017, updated August 23, 2019