How a more efficient proposal process can help you close more sales

Proposals 5 min read

Your business’s livelihood depends on a motivated and productive sales process to secure new clients – but your sales team could be busy focusing on all of the wrong things. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Salesforce’s State of Sales Productivity for 2015 found that salespeople spend just one-third of their time actually selling.

You may be surprised at what your sales team is doing that could be a total waste of your talent and resources. According to the study, 31% of a sales rep’s time is spent researching and creating content. Meanwhile, another 20% of their time is spent on reporting, administrative and CRM-related tasks.

It’s probably not possible to completely avoid time spent on reporting and administrative tasks, but you can save time and money by streamlining your proposal process and speeding up the entire system.

Here are some ways a more efficient proposal process can help you close more sales, and how real businesses have done it.

Increase your sales productivity

One of the benefits of shortening your proposal process is the amount of time you get back to focus on networking and nurturing leads. Even highly-paid sales reps at the top of their field struggle in this area.

“Highly-paid field reps spend 45% of their time on internal sales support and tracking the progress of deals.”

According to McKinsey

But a sales operations makeover doesn’t have to involve a lot of bells and whistles. Using the right software to create proposals that can easily repurpose your materials and track your efforts can turn your business into a finely-tuned productivity machine.

Agency Revolution was using old-fashioned proposal techniques, like Microsoft Word, printing, scanning and faxing. They were looking for a way to streamline the process and speed up their productivity, so they decided to make the switch to a CRM proposal system. After the switch, they ended up increasing their productivity by 800% and started closing contracts in just 30 seconds.

Show clients what your business can do

Sitting at a roundtable with clients or chatting over the phone can only take your lead nurturing so far. Your clients need to see what your business can do for them with graphics, charts and other visuals – not just listen and take your word for it.

Science backs up the idea that the majority of people don’t retain information simply by listening.

65% of the population consists of visual learners. Make sure your clients fully digest your pitch by using proposals that regularly incorporate graphics, charts, and infographics to give your clients more context.”

According to Pearson

Creative studio Pixelhaus works in graphic design, web design, advertising, direct mail and more. By nature, the company already focuses on creative assets as the core of their service offerings. They switched to CRM proposal software and saw their conversions increase by 50% while maintaining the quality materials and graphics their clients demand.

Reinvest the money you save into your sales funnel

Proposal software can save both time and money in your pitching process, but there are other benefits companies often overlook. Dramatically reducing paperwork can reduce your overhead and free up more money for you to reinvest back into your company to scale faster. And failing to reinvest can slow your progress. Billionaire Warren Buffett has built an empire from reinvesting in himself early and often to scale his businesses and investment portfolio.

Blue Raven Solar was rapidly growing with a diverse team in several locations across the country. But they knew they were struggling to keep up with the sheer volume of physical documents being handled by their team.

After making a complete switch to a CRM proposal and document creation process, they are saving thousands per year. Ultimately, Blue Raven Solar saved endless hours on managing paperwork and tracking every document passing through the company.

Get deeper insights into your sales process

An efficient and fine-tuned proposal process helps drive success for some businesses, but it may not be necessary for everyone. For example, a company that doesn’t rely on pitching to secure clients can get away with using Microsoft Word from time to time.

But a free tool like Google Docs not only looks unimpressive and unprofessional, it also doesn’t offer any insights into your sales process. Switching to a professional proposal generator can help track opens and other valuable information about your sales process.

But what you do with those insights is what really matters. PixelFLEX combined PandaDoc with Salesforce to help give their already-successful business a boost. They were looking for better line-item focused proposals and wanted to give their document workflow a major overhaul. They ultimately grew their business by 300% and gathered insights on how their clients were interacting with the information in the proposals to figure out how to better close future sales.

Quickly repurpose your best proposals

Skipping the reinvention wheel and relying on your best-performing proposals can save your company time and money. Focus on repurposing your best proposals and pulling from similar graphics, copy, and data with minor tweaks to speed up the process to close the sale.

Reusing graphics and elements is sometimes possible with freemium proposal software, but such programs usually aren’t organized, with a content library of assets to pull from and quickly scale across multiple proposals.

Meanwhile, software like PandaDoc offers pre-designed templates and tokens. Insert the tokens into the content blocks of your proposal to auto-fill information such as your business details or specific client fields.

Stackla created their client content library to help streamline the proposal process and get their reps up and running quickly. The team became more self-sufficient and able to quickly create customized content and reuse their best proposals. They also found it helped reduce costs and reduce the time needed to onboard and train their sales team.

Secure legally binding signatures faster

“The digital signature market is expected to grow at a 31,5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2016 to 2022. Clients have come to expect the ability to digitally sign instead of dealing with the hassle of printing, signing, and scanning.”

According to P&S Market Research

However, OpenOffice and freemium programs don’t offer a way to capture legally-binding signatures. Time is of the essence when you want potential clients to sign and get started.

Blueface used PandaDoc to combat the signature issue without relying on multiple software programs and processes. They ended up with one tool to create professional proposals and legally secure signatures to save time and money. Blueface ultimately saved 3-5 days in the time-to-signature process and trimmed their proposal creation time from up to an hour to just minutes. The Blueface team now spends less than a quarter of their time on proposals and increased their close rate by double digits.

There are multiple ways to streamline your proposal process to close more business, but it ultimately boils down to saving time and money. It’s unlikely your business is at maximum efficiency while manually creating proposals and tracking the results. Whether your company is looking to reduce time spent on proposals or trim down the time to close sales, you can change the way you do business by using the right tools. The real key is testing your process and the results to find the most reliable path to success.

Are you considering switching to a CRM proposal system? What issues are you trying to solve in your workflow? Let us know in the comments below.

Bethany Fagan

Bethany Fagan Content Marketing Manager at PandaDoc

Bethany is the Content Marketing Manager at PandaDoc. She has over 10 years in the sales and marketing industry and loves crafting new stories and discovering new distribution channels. Outside of the office, she spends her time reading, working out at Orangetheory or trying a new Brooklyn brewery with her husband and two French Bulldogs, Tater Tot and Pork Chop.

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