Optimize your pipeline with online sales proposal tools

The sales funnel is not rocket science. But it is a formula, a combination of processes which — if supported by the right tech — can lead to you closing more sales with fewer people in less time.

In our opinion, @@this is what the winning sales funnel looks like@@:

  1. Build awareness (ads, emails, trade shows, handshakes)

  2. Capture interest (a.k.a., lead generation and qualification)

  3. Engage and nurture (half sales rep, half sales enablement)

  4. Quote and close (the most critical part — and often the most neglected)

  5. Retention (the first sale is never the last: make customers for life)

While there are myriad tools and agencies that can help you fill the top of the funnel, at the most critical part — the quote — you’re often on your own.

But online sales proposal tools deliver much needed automation and sophistication to this juncture in your pipeline, ensuring every quote is on-time, accurate, tracked, and closed.

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Awareness is good

…and help is everywhere

What’s the best way to get more people to know about your products and services? Is it display ads, email campaigns, trade shows, SEM, billboards, walking door to door, or sky-writing? The answer is “yes,” because the options for building awareness — and the advertising and marketing agencies that will help you do so — are basically endless. Just be sure to pick awareness options specific to your business needs.

If you’re selling business technology, stick to SEM (PPC and SEO) and trade shows. If you’re promoting a local event, billboards and other OOH (out of home) advertising can work wonders. If you’re selling spiritual salvation, door to door still seems to be the preferred method (along with the occasional leaflet). And if you’re looking for an agency to help you, don’t. Rest assured: they will find YOU.

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Capture interest

…by any means necessary

You paid the agency to make the ads. You paid the search engine to run them. You’ve sunk a serious amount of coin at this point, so capture every lead you can. Here’s where marketing automation tools like HubSpot or Marketo can make a difference, with landing pages and online lead capture forms and more to capture a prospect’s information after you have captured their attention.

However, not everyone  who responds to your awareness efforts is going to be worth the effort of spinning up a sales proposal. So make sure your forms properly qualify all incoming traffic — ask for a business email (avoid the madeupname@gmail types), ask a couple of brief qualifying questions, such as “What’s your timeframe? What’s your job title?” Don’t spend time on a prospect unless you can see the possibility of a return on that spend.

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Engage & nurture  

…time for some hand-holding

Ideally, step 3 is where the first human interaction takes place (though many organizations have a junior rep doing some of the qualification tasks in step 2). You’re getting down to brass tacks through a couple of conversations, matching their needs and budget with your products.

Some prospects take more time than others, and the tools in your CRM (Dynamics, Zoho, Salesforce, etc.) integrated with those in your marketing automation system provide all you need to nurture prospects into customers: drip campaigns, retargeting, tracking, and more.

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Quote and close

…send it and forget it?

Most reps know how many quotes they have out at any given time. Sadly, when you ask most reps about the status of any quote they have out, they’ll say one of three things: It was sent. It was signed. It wasn’t.

We have got to do better than this, and that’s where online sales proposal tools come in. Because while your CRM and marketing automation systems make a world of difference leading up to the proposal — and in retaining customers, too — they can have a blind spot when it comes to customer quotes.

But an automated sales proposal system like IQX gives you insights and actions during this most critical point: track it every step of the way; automate replies; set-up reminders; send more quotes more quickly by using a cloud-based catalog of all products and services; repeat positive processes by sharing winning quotes across the enterprise.

In our opinion — as salespeople — we have always found it a little strange that historically speaking, sales enablement technology and techniques hit the end of the funnel last. Because it’s during the quoting and closing where we need the most help and the least mistakes.

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Do we have your retention?

Speaking of the end of the funnel… the funnel never ends. Because every customer has needs that will put them back into the quoting process.

Here’s where your HubSpots and Marketos can add tremendous value. Email campaigns, newsletters, responding to user behavior on your website — all these can be automated to keep every customer warm. A little check-in can go a long way and ensure you’re top-of-mind when a need arises that’s similar to the one that brought them to you in the first place.

If you'd like to learn more about this topic or see IQX for yourself with a free demo, contact us.