A successful sales proposal has many moving parts: there are the products and pricing, of course, but there are also elements such as timing, being able to demonstrate a complete understanding of the problem your prospect is trying to solve, proposal design, and so much more.
While some of the preceding are solved by a sales rep’s expertise and experience (and good ol’ communication!), many of the steps in your sales proposal process may be improved by intelligent application of price quote software.
In this article, we’ll explore a few ways you can optimize your overall sales proposal process by using the full set of features found in best-in-class sales proposal automation software.
Formatting your proposal
The best sales proposal formats are those that are “customer-first.” You’ll see some old-school approaches out there, recommending you lead off with a lengthy “About us” section, where you detail how long your company has been in business making widgets. WRONG.
Imagine your prospect needs CPR. You don’t start off by telling them, “Well, I was CPR-certified in 2010 by the Red Cross. Since that time, I have successfully given CPR to…” NO. Just give them what they need — a solution to their problem.
Format your proposals so they start with a problem/solution approach, always. And if you’re worried some reps might do otherwise, price quote software can help. Simply ensure the only proposal templates in your system have this customer-first formatting. I.e., don’t give reps the options to go it alone.
Pricing and product configurations
Business moves fast, which means products come and go and pricing changes at an often-breakneck pace — sometimes, in pursuit of the deal, reps will take it on themselves to offer discounts and unique product configurations to get a quote signed.
While “doing whatever it takes to make the customer happy” is an admirable pursuit, it can be a nightmare on the fulfillment side, as your product and finance teams have to scramble to deliver on every rep’s wild promises.
However, if you’re using configure, price, quote (CPQ) software, your pricing and product configurations are centrally administered, which means you need not worry about reps offering deeper discounts on the fly, for example.
You can ensure the only products and prices that can be added to any sales proposal are ones you have vetted. You can even set approved discount levels for each individual rep, giving them appropriate and approved “wiggle room” to use in their pitches.
Report and repeat
Perhaps one of the most powerful ways price quote software can impact your overall sales proposal process is by enabling a repeatable process. This goes beyond a template that can be reused and into being able to repeat and improve upon every client interaction between the time a quote is sent and the time it’s signed.
In most every CPQ system, you’ll find sales analytics and quote tracking tools that give you data about both the efficacy of each proposal and the overall process itself. What proposal template do customers typically respond to? What “nudge” emails work best to drive a signature? What is rep A doing well that you can share with reps B, C, and D?
It’s like that platitude about learning from the past, but in the case of your sales proposal process, and real-time reporting, you can learn from the present, too (e.g., a perfectly timed and written email that helped drive a customer signature can be added to another quote in progress).
You can improve your sales proposal process without price quote software, of course, but it requires a lot of hands-on attention. Leave the hands-on work to where it can’t be automated (your discovery process, meetings, etc.) and leave the rest to business tech like CPQ.