I don’t know about you, but I could use a win right now.
I mean, working on long-term plans that will help Proposify grow in six months’ or a year’s time can be so satisfying when they come to fruition. But sometimes it’s just nice to see some more immediate results, right?
So I thought, why not go after some of that low-hanging fruit in your proposal process? You know, the little stuff that you never get around to doing or the task you thought would be labour-intensive so you’ve put it off. I asked our Customer Success team for their best tips for improving your proposal workflow that will provide (almost) instant gratification.
Here are five easy things you can do RIGHT NOW, the kind of tasks that you can add to your to-do list and then get the sweet, sweet satisfaction of crossing ‘em right back off. (Plus some tips on next steps, in case you breeze through your list.)
5 quick ways to improve your proposal workflow
1. Organize your proposal content
A full two-thirds of all sales collateral goes unused. Is that because it’s unhelpful or is it simply because sales reps can’t find it when they need it?
This quick task tackles the ‘can’t-find-what-I-need-fast’ issue. A well-organized proposal content library makes creating proposals a breeze. Here are our best tips for more orderly content:
- Add folders to provide structure and prevent your sales team from having to sort through everything to find what they need.
- Segment content by type. Have separate folders for templates, sections, text snippets, images, pricing tables, etc.
- Use a consistent naming system, with clear and detailed asset names.
- Keep your content library updated. Delete old or obsolete assets so there’s no duplication or confusion.
2. Streamline your proposal templates
Your sales rep is getting ready to send out a proposal. They go to grab the handy pre-made template to get started and… wait. Which file should they use: Main_Proposal_Template_version2? Proposal_Template-Updated? TemplateUSETHISONE?
All that template clutter will only add confusion to the proposal creation process and could end up with incorrect or outdated information going out to leads. So if you have a bunch of templates or example proposals that are outdated or superfluous, delete them. Make sure any remaining useful ones are clearly labelled so anyone would know which one they need to use for a specific product or service or selling situation.
The state of proposals has changed.
So we updated our State of Proposals report. Discover how sales teams are finding ways to adapt and win in the time of COVID-19.I'd like the report!
3. Update your sign-off
Still doing the send, print, sign, scan, send back dance to get client sign-off? Legally binding electronic signatures have been helping sales teams close faster for almost two decades, so there’s no better time than now to add them to your closing process.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t know how to create an electronic signature?” or “I already have a stand-alone electronic signature tool.”, software like Proposify that has a built-in esignature tool makes it dead simple. Drag-and-drop initial and signature boxes right where you need them in the doc and your prospects can sign off in just a couple clicks.
Electronic signatures eliminate lots of time-wasting back-and-forths, plus they’re easier for your team to execute, easier for everyone to know when a proposal has gotten official approval, and easier on your prospects. No one ever needs to search for a pen. (I know I can never find mine when I need it).
4. Add more proposal automation
Did you know that more than 50% of the average salesperson’s daily tasks could be automated? Let’s look at three of the ‘usual suspects’ draining so much time away from sales and revenue-generating activities. If you’re using proposal software, it’s easy to add a little more automation to the proposal process in these areas.
Data entry makes up 17% of a sales rep’s day, so you can see why having to duplicate some of this effort when creating proposals is frustrating. Variables (also called shortcodes or merge tags) are the automated answer.
They replace the find-and-replace activity that proposal creators have to do in order to update all instances of text that changes from doc to doc—like the client’s name or their company name. Variables and field mapping allow you to pull that info directly from your client details or CRM. That way, sales reps don’t need to track down and re-enter them, not only saving time but also reducing the opportunity for errors since you can maintain a single source of truth for your deal details.
Emails are already an important part of the sales process. In fact, sales reps spend 21% of their day writing and sending them. Not having to add one more to the cadence can save a ton of time and effort. Setting up follow-up emails that go out automatically to remind prospects that your proposal is awaiting their approval means one less email to add to the cadence, saving time.
Speaking of approvals, internal approvals on proposals is another area where automation can improve your workflow.
In Proposify, any user who needs the approval of a colleague before the proposal goes out can request that sign-off in just one click. The approver receives a message letting them know that there’s a doc awaiting their feedback and they can quickly approve, reject, or add comments.
This type of system can remove bottlenecks and give sales leaders more visibility into the proposal creation pipeline without having to interrupt selling time.
5. Compare your metrics against benchmark data
If you have five minutes, you can do our free proposal audit. Answer a few questions about your proposals and get immediate feedback on how your process stacks up against what we found out about proposal success by analyzing the 2+ million proposals in our database.
The audit looks at the ideal proposal length, content, workflow, and more. Click here to get started now.
The next level
Maybe you’re reading this list and giving yourself a pat on the back because you’ve already accomplished these tasks and claimed those quick wins. Congrats!
There’s still more you can do to optimize your proposal process. Here’s how to take my suggestions above to the next level:
Want to take your content check-up a step further? Learn how to keep your sales team collaborating on proposals while maintaining control over your content.
Did your template tidy-up inspire you to create a whole template strategy? Check out the three most common proposal template strategies, how successful teams use them, and the key factors that influence their success.
Want to become an electronic signature expert? Find out the truth behind some common electronic signature misconceptions that could be holding your sales team back.
And if you want to up your automation game, integrations are the best way to connect your proposal software to the rest of your sales tech stack for a super-smooth workflow.
Quick (and not-so-quick) wins for the win!