How CPQ software vendors can quickly and easily make the case to be CRM’s “5th Beatle.” It’s about supporting CRM’s strengths, and bringing a few new ones to the table, too.
Closing sales means bringing in business and, hopefully, lasting customers. However, moving from initial contact to money in the bank isn’t nearly as easy as it looks. Aside from having the drive to close a deal, a good salesman must also have the right tools.
With so many tasks and responsibilities circling you from day to day, it’s easy to feel too overwhelmed to do a good job. To make your sales jobs more manageable, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of sales tools at your disposal.
You’ll need tools that help you become more organized, stay on task, communicate better with clients, and leave work at work when you head home. If that sounds attractive to you, here are some essential sales tools that you should be using.
1. Personality Traits and Skills
First and foremost, being a good salesman goes beyond the technical. You must also have certain personality traits and skills to handle this difficult occupation. As you work to close quicker deals and to increase your success in this field, here are some personality traits on which to work.
Patience: Let customers make decisions at their own speed. Some sales will take longer than others.
Commitment: It may take 99 phone calls dropped or doors slammed in your face to get your first sale, but if you’re committed to the job, you’ll get it done.
Integrity: Shady sales people always have a more difficult time connecting with consumers and maintaining lasting customers than those who approach the process with honesty and transparency.
Flexibility: You have to be available for customers, even when it’s not convenient. You may also need to adjust your initial goals to work with difficult customers and extenuating circumstances.
Enthusiasm: The more excited and confident you are in a product, the more you’ll be able to convince consumers of its worth.
Motivation: Most of the time, you’ll set your own goals, hours, and quotas, so it’s essential to stay motivated if you want to achieve success.
2. Mobile Apps
It’s hard to be a good salesman today without a smartphone loaded with useful apps. Some apps will help you to communicate better with your customers, while others will improve lead storage. You likely already have a few apps in your mobile library, but here are a few that you can add.
CamCard: Save a sales lead instantly with this accurate note-taking and storage app.
Square: Retain the ability to accept payment at the door.
GoToMeeting: Tune-in to conferences with your sales team, even when you’re traveling.
Dragon: Take notes on your phone by using tech that translates voice into text.
SpotHero: Stop looking for affordable, nearby parking when you travel to meetings. This app instantly shows all of the parking places in the vicinity around your meeting.
Pocket: When you find a timely and educational article or video on the web, bookmark it for later.
3. Cloud Collaboration
Everything is moving to the cloud these days, and you should too. It’s the easiest and most efficient way to store your sales files accurately and securely. You no longer need worry about accidentally deleting files or losing everything when your desktop crashes. If it’s in the cloud, you can almost always retrieve it.
In addition, the cloud makes it easy to collaborate, both with team members and your clients. When using cloud-based productivity platforms and file sharing, you can communicate relevant information with anyone, no matter where you are. As a salesperson, you’re likely required to travel often, and tools like Google Drive, iQuoteXpress, and other productivity sales platforms will keep you constantly connected.
4. Email Tracking
Understanding the effectiveness of your emails will show you where to improve and which habits to continue. Features in a good email tracking software will include email templates, monitoring of outgoing emails for the entire team, integration with other software, the ability to see when messages are opened, consistent online support, email analytics, comprehensive email reports, and other key email marketing tools.
With the ability to track emails across your entire sales team constantly, communication becomes increasingly more attainable for both teams and clients. Your sales will improve, and your quotas will be easier to reach.
5. Quota Tracking
Every sales person has a quota they must reach on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. The best sales people stick to their quotas religiously and hold themselves to a higher standard each time they achieve their goals.
Reaching these quotas is difficult, but it gets easier when you use software to improve the process. Cloud-based productivity software, for example, can help entire sales teams collaborate in order to work toward both individual and team goals. When team members see their own progress and the progress of others, it can motivate them to achieve even higher goals and to improve their sales in the process.
6. Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) Software
Many salespeople will tell you that managing proposals is one of the most difficult aspects of staying organized and productive as a salesman, particularly those with complex sales processes. Businesses with a variety of products and services to offer have a much more difficult time giving an accurate quote than small businesses, a process that can drag down the proposal process and reduce the professional quality.
When you have CPQ software, you’ll begin to change your tune. This tool allows you to manage proposal by proposal accurately and quickly, rather than getting caught up in mounds of files to approach.
Essentially, CPQ software is a tool that enables more efficient sales processes through increasing deal size, scalable accuracy, and cloud convenience. iQuoteXpress, for example, is a resource specifically designed for teams looking for more professional, accurate, and timely proposals. It can be customized to your unique objectives and offers a variety of features.
When you’re faced with complex sales quotes, this software can integrate your catalog to minimize and eliminate errors; deliver accurate quotes; and create striking, branded, and complete proposals.
Aside from that, once the proposal is created, you can track your leads, monitor and manage activities, and ultimately close more deals. This incredible sales tool seems too good to be true, but it’s not. In fact, you can contact iQuoteXpress now for more information. We’d be happy to hook you up with a free, no-obligation online demo of our CPQ software today!
Whether you’re selecting an individual from inside your organization or hiring an outside contractor, choosing the best writer for your proposal is a crucial part of the process. And in order to ensure you hone in on the right individual, you need to understand exactly what you need.
What Do You Want From Your Writer?
Start by thinking about what you really want from your writer. You can’t expect to find a writer that fits your proposal needs unless you’ve already clearly defined what these needs are.
Based on your needs, you should be able to determine whether the writer needs to be brought in from the outside or whether the position can be filled internally by using a writer that’s already on your team.
Perhaps the biggest thing to consider is the technical side of your proposal. How much of the proposal is based on information that’s specific to your organization? And how complex and technical is this information? If you bring in an outside writer, it could take days or weeks for that individual to fully understand what your business does, what voice it uses, and where the proposal fits into the picture.
An individual within your organization already has a very good feel for what your business does and the voice it possesses. However, they may not have the same writing skills as someone you’re able to bring in from outside.
When searching for a proposal writer, make sure you know exactly what you want from the writer. There will always be tradeoffs and it’s up to you to determine what’s most important to you.
The 6 Characteristics Your Proposal Writer Needs
While certain elements are optional, there are also a number of attributes a proposal writer must possess in order to be successful.
Ability to Follow Directions
While a good writer is able to work independently and perform well without constant “babysitting” (and we’ll discuss this later), he also must possess the ability to digest instructions without deviating from precise directions.
Proposal writing is very different from standard content writing. It requires careful attention to detail and the final product is heavily influenced by a predetermined structure. In other words, the writer has less room for personalization. The goal is to develop a quality and engaging proposal that meets pre-established stipulations. A proficient proposal writer prioritizes adherence to guidelines.
Communication is of paramount importance. This is especially true if you’re contracting with a proposal writer who doesn’t actually work in your office. You shouldn’t have to be the one always sending out emails requesting updates. A good proposal writer will initiate communication and provide regular feedback.
Along these same lines, a good proposal writer is easy to get in touch with. While they may not always pick up the phone when you call – nobody likes distractions when in a “writing zone” – they will call you back as soon as possible. Writers may be more effective at writing than verbally communicating, but the best writers understand the importance of the latter and work hard to facilitate regular conversation.
Dependability and Promptness
Reliability is a big thing. There are a lot of talented writers in the industry, but only a small percentage of them are reliable enough to handle something as important as writing a proposal.
When comparing different writers, try to determine their dependability. Can you count on them to consistently meet deadlines, follow the rules, and give you the time necessary to produce a quality proposal that resonates with the target? Sometimes you have to take a gamble on this, but an individual’s references and past work typically provide you with some insight into future work.
“In many ways writing in a business setting is less demanding than other kinds of writing,” says Brian Wasko, entrepreneur and content writer. “There is little pressure to be creative or particularly original. You are not creating art, after all; you are using the written word for its most basic purpose: to communicate information.”
While proposal writing and creativity aren’t always connected, you should look for a certain amount of imagination and originality in the proposal writers you work with.
In proposal writing, creativity often shines through in different ways. It may involve taking a different angle or highlighting one piece of data over another. You can’t teach creativity, so don’t underestimate the value of ingenuity when you find it.
Why does a writer need to be personable, you may ask? Well, assuming you choose a good writer and end up working with them over and over again, it’s likely that you’ll be spending a lot of time communicating with them.
It’s much more enjoyable to communicate with someone who has an attractive personality. Your proposal writer doesn’t have to be your best friend, but you should be able to have easy and comfortable conversations with them. The right personality goes a long way.
Ability to Thrive Independently
Finally, proposal writers must be able to thrive independently. While there will be times where you need to sit down and meet with the writer, there will also be large chunks of time – hours or even days – where the writer is left alone to work. During these periods, time management and discipline are critically important.
Try iQuoteXpress Today
In order to get the most out of your proposal writers, you need to supply them with the right tools and resources – one of which is the iQuoteXpress CPQ software. This proprietary solution delivers tremendous value and immediately enhances sales effectiveness by increasing deal-size and establishing scalable accuracy.
iQuoteXpress is specifically tailored to sales teams who are looking to efficiently craft accurate and comprehensive proposals that resonate with targets and produce positive returns. If you feel like your proposal writing team could use a progressive solution like this, then don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to set you up with a free no-obligation online demo at your earliest convenience.
While writing and sending a business proposal is certainly one of the more time-intensive aspects of the process, your job isn’t done when the proposal changes hands. Successful businesses are the ones that understand how to follow up and close the deal. Are you out of touch when it comes to this important part of the process?
Persistence Trumps Timidity
Following up after a proposal is always a bit nerve-wracking. While you certainly want to have your proposal accepted by the prospective client, the last thing you want to do is come across as desperate or obnoxious. Unfortunately, this fear of being pushy can cause successful people to lose deals that they could have easily landed.
We’ve all gotten sales calls at inopportune times,” writes Mike Kamo of Stride. “As a sales professional, you don’t want to be that annoying salesperson on the other end of the phone. However, you also know that following up is a critical part of the sales process.” So, what’s the solution? Be persistent without pestering.
There’s a big difference between persistence and pestering. A persistent person doesn’t let one unanswered email or phone call deter them from sending another one a day or two later. A pest, on the other hand, will immediately follow up an email or phone call with another one just hours later. You want to be persistent, not pesky – because persistence always trumps timidity.
4 Tips and Tricks for Following Up:
With persistence as your foundation, let’s take a look at some specific tips and strategies you can use when trying to follow up with prospective clients.
1. Know When to Follow Up
There’s no standard rule for when you can/should follow up after a proposal is sent. However, most people tend to allow for three to five business days. Or, if you have a proposal tracking software, you may find it appropriate to follow up the day after the individual reads the proposal.
When it comes to the first follow up, most people mess up because they don’t understand the purpose of the conversation. Unless the prospect guides the discussion in this direction, it’s probably not the right time to discuss closing the deal. The purpose of the initial follow up is to make sure the prospect has seen the proposal and to answer any questions they may have. This also puts a name/face/voice to the proposal and gives you the advantage of familiarity down the road.
If you watch professional baseball, you know that each bullpen pitcher typically serves a different purpose. There are “setup men” and “closers.” The setup man typically comes in during the seventh or eight inning and “sets up” the closer for the ninth and final inning. Using this analogy, you need to take on the role of the setup man during the initial follow up. Then, in subsequent follow ups, you can put on the closer hat and secure the deal. You don’t want to go out of order.
2. Ask the Right Questions
Part of a successful follow up involves asking the right questions in order to get the prospect talking and gain valuable feedback. Some of the questions you may consider throwing their way include:
Do you have any questions for me?
Were their any parts that you need clarified?
How does our proposal align with the direction of your company?
What do you think of our plan to incorporate XYZ into the process?
While you want valuable feedback, the more important thing is to simply get the prospect talking. The more you can get them to talk, the more comfortable they’ll feel with you. And as their comfort level grows, communication will increase – as will the chances of your proposal getting accepted.
3. Gain Feedback on the Proposal Itself
The first thing you should do when a proposal gets rejected is ask why. You’d be amazed at how such a simple question can produce such profound insights. You may not like what you hear, but it will be helpful.
Sometimes proposals get denied right away. While this can be frustrating, you want to make sure you’re clear about why you got denied. Ask for feedback regarding the proposal itself. Did you price your services too high? Was there some element of confusion? Are they going with someone else?
These are all questions that are bound to be circling around in your head over the next few days, so why not get the answers straight from the source? If you’re able to learn a valuable lesson about your proposal writing, then the denial may be worth it in the long run.
4. Always Say Thank You
Proposal writing can be a stressful and disappointing process – especially when you get ignored. However, you must remain gracious. Using another baseball analogy, your batting average doesn’t have to be 1.000 in order to be considered successful. Hall of Fame baseball players – the best in the business – typically only have a .300 average. In other words, they’re only successful three out of every ten attempts. This means they fail twice as often as they succeed! If you were successful three out of every ten times you sent a proposal, you’d probably be happy, too.
“Whatever answer you get, someone took the time to read your proposal, or speak with you on the phone,” writes Minda Zetlin, co-author of The Geek Gap. “They gave you some of their time and attention, which is a scarce commodity for every professional these days.” Furthermore, always say thank you. You never know when they’ll remember or refer you.
Use iQuoteXpress Today
The key to successful proposal writing involves understanding the recipient and knowing how and when to follow up. If you’re still approaching this process on your own, you’re missing out on opportunities to maximize success.
Using iQuoteXpress, you can automate your sales estimating process, streamline proposals, and gain valuable insights into how your proposals are being received. For additional information – and a free, no-obligation, online demo of our software platform – please contact us today!