Targeted quotes

How proposal automation software matches the "party" and "invite"

When you’re trying to design the perfect sales quote, chances are you begin like many of the rest of us sales people do: “let’s see what Google has to say about it.”

What you’ll find is that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of companies offering hundreds, if not thousands, of free quote templates. And if you download one, you’ll also find that you get what you pay for. (To be blunt, most of these proposal templates are not worth the kilobytes they consume, the digital version of “not worth the paper they’re printed on.”)

Proposal automation software makes these kinds of searches completely unnecessary as it can come complete with pre-configured sales quote templates that have all the elements in place, and — more importantly — are YOUR templates reflecting and building your brand, while you properly set customer expectations.

Here are three simple ways to improve sales quote design and efficacy by using proposal automation software.

Targeted from top to bottom

There’s a phrase marketers use when dreaming up campaigns to sell a product or service: make sure the party matches the invite.

If what you’re selling is IT security services, for example, you’re not going to send an overly colorful sales proposal with copy in it about “realizing your dreams.” Your sales quote is going to be simple and straightforward. Colors: maybe one or two (ideally, that reflect what you have in your logo). Words: nothing but the facts. We’re talking about security, so be direct.

Ensuring that your sales quotes are “invites that match the party” is far easier if you’re using a proposal automation software solution pre-populated with vertically targeted and on-brand templates. Not only can the software help you create better proposals and a better customer experience, but it can improve the speed with which you create and send proposals.


Centralized product & pricing configuration

Let’s keep that “party/invite” idea rolling: most every party you go to is, in some way, preconfigured: e.g., birthday parties have cakes and goodie bags and you bring gifts; NYE parties have booze, and lots of it.

The party that you’re hosting is your products and services; the invite is your proposal. Most proposal automation software is built on a product and pricing configuration engine that lets any rep — regardless of how well they may know your product line — populate every proposal with the ideal products and pricing for both the customer’s needs and your bottom line.

These configurations, and reps’ permissions, are centrally administered, which means you have control over what any given rep puts into any given proposal. You can also tie certain proposal templates to certain product and pricing configurations, thereby always ensuring “party” and “invite” are a match.


Real-time optimization

In sales, things change, and fast. Sometimes, Joe Salesguy in location X will be in the middle of creating a proposal selling Widget A at the lowest possible price. But earlier that day, Steve Salesperson in location B did a very similar proposal finding that Widget A could be sold for higher margins as part of a bundle.

With a sales quote automation solution, you can in effect, make a mid-stream adjustment to a proposal, adjust its pricing on the fly and always be certain you’re getting the best possible margins on all your products.

Too often, products and pricing and the sales analytics tools we use to further and better understand a sale are discussed retroactively: “If only we’d known the customer would have paid 20% more, we would have offered the bundle in Joe’s proposal.” But with proposal automation software as part of your sales quote process,  you can make changes in real-time to improve both closing rates and returns.


So make sure your party is all it can be (targeted, optimized products and pricing) and that your invites (targeted, optimized, and branded sale proposals) both capture customers’ attention and let them know what they can expect when they reply “Yes.”

The Math Matters: 4 Problems Caused By Poor Price Quotes

Pricing is something that every business loses sleep over at one point or another. Setting a price is an important decision with serious ramifications. Set the price too high and you risk losing customers. Set the price too low and you could devalue your products and damage the bottom line.

In particular, when it comes to quoting prices through proposals, there’s a lot to think about. How you convey pricing in a proposal format can ultimately determine whether or not you’re successful. Are you getting the price wrong?

4 Side Effects of Poor Pricing

Pricing Error

“Pricing is as important as any business decision, but frequently it is treated as if it were no decision at all,” serial entrepreneur Jay Goltz explains. “Business owners just keep doing whatever they have always done, for better or worse. They do this because they fear they will — as they’ve been told a thousand times — price themselves out of the market.”

Are you still doing what you’ve always done, just because you don’t want to rock the boat? Well, be very careful. It’s entirely possible that the prices you’re quoting new prospects aren’t within the optimal range. If that’s true, you’re probably experiencing one or more of the following problems:

1. Hurts the Bottom Line

One of the most visible side effects of poor pricing is an impacted bottom line. Whether you go too high or too low, it’s likely that you’ll feel some sort of influence. High pricing alienates a large percentage of your prospects and drags sales down, whereas low pricing erodes your profits and stifles revenue. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you’re on, poor pricing can have a negative impact on your bottom line.

2. Damages Your Reputation

Pricing Strategy

Let’s pretend you’re a customer and you walk into an auto repair shop because you notice that your vehicle’s air conditioning isn’t as cold as it should be. You ask them to take a look and diagnose the problem. Sure enough, they tell you there’s an issue and quote you $700 to get your air conditioning back to new.

Because $700 is a lot to spend on repairing your car’s AC, you decide to visit two other repair shops for quotes. One shop quotes you at $150 and the other says they’ll repair it for $175. Not only are you going to choose one of these lower priced quotes, but you probably have a pretty poor view of the first auto repair shop you visited. Either they tried to rip you off by charging you almost five-times the appropriate amount, or they’re totally inadequate at what they do and misdiagnosed the problem.

This is one of the biggest problems with poor pricing. Whether it’s purposeful or unintentional, quoting a prospect a ridiculous figure damages your reputation with them. Not only that – they’re likely to tell others about your pricing and you may end up losing additional business in the future.

3. Offends Prospects

The third problem with incorrect pricing is closely related to the second problem. When you give a prospect a price that they know isn’t in line with what the current market demands, they may actually take offense. You’re essentially telling them that you don’t believe they’re intelligent enough to know whether or not the price is right. In the end, this can erode your business relationships and even hurt existing client relationships.

4. Slows Down the Supply Chain

Depending on the industry and business you’re in, poor pricing may slow down the supply chain. When your pricing becomes too high or low for the marketplace, you’re going to see a change in demand. Regardless of whether this variation is positive or negative, you’ll be forced to adjust what’s happening at each stage of the supply chain.

Ultimately, poor pricing will lead to huge fluctuations in demand, which kills consistency and frustrates everyone involved. So, not only are you damaging your reputation with customers, but you may also be creating friction between partners in your supply chain. The long-term effects can be costly in more ways than one.

Avoid These Common Pricing Mistakes

Pricing Mistakes

In order to avoid the four common problems associated with poor pricing, you have to make sure you avoid pricing mistakes altogether. Here are a few tips to keep you in line:

  • Setting price based on cost. Sometimes it can feel natural to set prices based on cost, but this is a huge mistake. Price should always be based on the value you’re presenting to customers. This is the only way to establish long-term profitability.

  • Putting off changes out of fear. It’s fairly common for businesses to get used to their pricing and fail to make changes because they fear customers’ reactions. While some customers will be upset, you’ll be surprised to learn that most will be fine. If you couple price changes with appropriate consumer education, you’ll discover that customers are actually quite accustomed to pricing fluctuations.

  • Giving everyone the same price. It may seem fair at first, but you can’t afford to give every prospect the same price. You need to carefully segment your customers. Everyone has different needs and perceptions of your company. Remember, pricing matches value – so you should align your quotes with each prospect’s perceived value of your product.

  • Simply guessing. In the early days of business, it’s not uncommon for startups to simply guess. These guesses are often based on other similar products and services in the marketplace and the cost of production. While this may give you a decent “ballpark range,” it’s a pretty superficial foundation and will end up hurting you.

Setting prices is not something to be taken lightly. While there’s always the temptation to make these mistakes, it’s imperative that you surround yourself with the right tools and resources in order to avoid blunders.

Contact iQuoteXpress Today

At iQuoteXpress, we believe few things are as important to a growing business as consistency. If you want to build a steady and reliable client onboarding process, then you need the ability to develop high returning proposals and accurate quotes every time, without exception. With our CPQ solution, you can reduce proposal time by 50 to 75 percent, increase quote accuracy, and close more leads. What are you waiting for?

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The 6 Biggest Obstacles in Fitness Equipment Sales – and When You Need Sales Proposal Software.

The fitness equipment industry faces a number of unique challenges in the modern era, thanks in part to advancing technologies and changing consumer expectations that are shaping the sales world for a number of industries. The equipment itself is becoming more advanced, but you’re still selling tangible, manufactured goods, and there will always be a demand for fitness equipment as long as people want to lose weight or stay in shape; even so, if your business wants to grow, or stay alive among the competition, you need more sales to do it.


10 Things Your Boss Will Look for on Your Business Proposal.

Being able to write a business proposal is a basic skill every entrepreneur should have.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There’s a lot that goes into drafting an excellent proposal, and your boss likely won’t take the time to outline what that is for you. If you’re tired of having your business proposals rejected, there are some things you should know.


1. You must understand the client.

There’s no way you can help to outline a solution to a problem if you don’t have a clear understanding of the client’s problem and what they want from a good business proposal. It’s rare that you’ll know exactly what the client wants right away if you’ve never worked for them before, but as you continue to draft your proposal, you’ll begin to gain a clearer idea of who they are and what they want.

The best way to come to an understanding of a client and their needs is through conversation. Talk to them about their concerns, operating policies, management philosophies, and anything else that’s relevant to your project. If there have been previous attempts to reach the goal you’re working towards, you can use that information to shape your proposal into something they need before they even realize it.


2. Clearly outlining the solution is the most important part.

The purpose of writing a proposal is to outline a solution to a specific problem. It’s as simple as that, but it’s surprising how much attention is placed on other parts of the proposal, detracting from the solution.

The solution should be clearly stated. It should begin with a concise statement that says what should be done and provide an easy-to-follow plan for accomplishing it. By the end of this section, the client and the stakeholders should have no questions about how the changes will alleviate their problems.


3. Never forget the header testimonial.

This might seem like an extra, but it’s actually a very important part of making a good impression on your clients. Your header testimonial is typically comprised of a quote from a past or existing client who has worked with you and your products and services before. The quote comes near the beginning of the proposal and supports your ability to get the job done, and it functions to grab the attention of your prospects in order to entice them to continue reading.

When it comes to getting good testimonials, Alex Turnbull, CEO of Groove says, “Good testimonials aren’t fluffy; they communicate very specifically the type of person the testimonial writer is and the type of problem they’ve been able to overcome. This helps readers put themselves in the storyteller’s shoes.” This kind of testimonial is exactly what proposals need to get off the ground running.


4. Make sure the scope of work is accurate, even if it’s not impressive.

Every proposal includes a section about the scope of work, namely the time frame it will take to get your solution underway. One mistake many proposal writers make is underestimating the time frame in order to make the proposal look more impressive. They will soon realize that your time frame is off when it takes longer than the stated amount, which won’t impress your client in the least.

Always be realistic about the time frame, even if it looks unimpressive. As long as you thoroughly describe the reasons behind the extended time frame, and the reasons make sense, it will make an impact on your client.


5. Outline the investment for the sake of the stakeholders.

If investors have read through your proposal up to this point, it means you’ve gotten their attention, so it’s now time to give them the details of your business model. They want to make sure the investment they’re about to make is a wise one. Details should include a description of product sales, licensing, services, advertising, salaries, rent, inventory, maintenance, and anything else that applies to your business model. Assumptions should be listed and justifications given.

All in all, these investors want to know how much they stand to make through your proposal and when the money will start. Their biggest concern is going to be cost, so make sure you’ve detailed this section of the proposal very well.


6. It’s a competition.

You’re likely not the only company presenting a proposal. Keep in mind that it’s a competition, and you should treat it as such, particularly if you’re the underdog. “If your competition is a company that is much larger than yours, then you've got to show your strengths,” says Shervin Freed in his book Writing Winning Business Proposals. “Maybe you specialize in the client's field or can focus intensely on solving their problem.” Either way, keeping this perspective in mind is essential to outshining your competitors and securing the deal.


7. Play up the benefits.

Of course, you must outline the weaknesses of your proposal to keep it realistic, but that doesn’t mean you should state the weaknesses only. As a general rule, make the benefits look much stronger than the weaknesses. You can’t hope to win over the client if your proposal makes it sound like the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.


8. The opening statement is like a first impression at a job interview.

Treat the opening statement as you would the first sentence spoken in a job interview. It should be courteous, intelligent, and show your enthusiasm for working with the client. Take the opportunity to thank the prospect for the opportunity and show your vast interest in providing a solution for their need. It should be concise, polished, and clearly represent what your company does.


9. You need to be qualified to write the proposal and be able to show it.

At some point, your qualifications are going to come up, and you need to be able to show that your company is the best for the job. This should be based on your competitive strengths and the past experiences you’ve had. Highlight your talents, experiences, and other qualifications throughout the proposal so the prospect has no reason to doubt your credibility.


10. Make it shine.

Once the entire report is compiled, it should be polished in order to remove any errors. It should also be attractively formatted with a professional edge for excellent presentation. For every grammar and formatting error the reader finds, you’ll lose points as far as credibility and competency go.


Contact iQuoteXpress for a Free Software Demo

There’s a lot that goes into writing a successful proposal, and it’s not always easy to handle the process on your own. If you start to feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities, it might be time to look into using software that will automate some of your processes. The software at iQuoteXpress can help you automate processes like financial estimations and data collection. Our software can help make proposals hassle-free. Contact us today if you’re interested in more information and a no-obligation, free, online demo of our specialized software.