As a sales leader, you eat, sleep, and breathe metrics. You probably have a metric for how much time you spend analyzing metrics.
And aggregated data from your proposals can be a huge part of assessing the success of your sales team. Metrics for individual proposals also shine a light into the dark corners of your prospect’s final decision process. But which ones are nice to know and which ones are vital KPIs you need to predict revenue?
I decided to find out, using data from our recent analysis of the millions of proposals in the Proposify database. In this post, I’ll let you in on the proposal metrics that don’t need to be a priority and the ones that have a direct impact on your sales team’s close rate.
3 proposal metrics you probably don’t need to pay much attention to and 3 proposal metrics you need to track now
1. Stop worrying about: the viewing duration
What would you think if your sales rep’s prospect viewed their proposal for 10 minutes? Does that seem like too much time to spend? Not enough?
Turns out, duration viewed, while an interesting metric to know, isn’t the best indicator of which way a deal is going to go. In analyzing our proposal database, we found that a high or low number here shouldn’t cause you to stress.
Why? Well, when we analyzed the millions of proposals in our database, the duration viewed metric doesn’t appear to have a direct correlation with close rates.
Yeah, it could indicate a problem if people are spending weeks slogging through your densely detailed proposal or bouncing out of it after mere seconds, but small variations in duration viewed metrics shouldn’t cause any major concern.
What you should track instead: the number of proposal views
Our research suggests you turn your attention to a related data point: how many times your prospects are going into your proposals.
We found that getting two or three prospect views on a proposal is a good indication that the deal will close. (The data actually says 2.5 views is ideal but I’m not sure how to get a half view, so let’s round up or down.)
It seems that when prospects pop into your proposal document just once or four or more times it indicates something’s up on the client-side that’s bad news for your sales team’s close rate. If your reps see that view metric staying stagnant at one or creeping up as the prospect goes radio silent, it might be a good time to reach out and find out what’s going on.
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2. Stop worrying about: the day of the week the proposal is sent on
Never send a proposal on Monday because it’ll get buried in prospects’ inboxes. Proposals sent on Fridays always close quickly because people are trying to tie up loose ends before the weekend hits. You shouldn’t send a proposal on Saturday or Sunday if you want a quick close.
Only one of those proposal-sending statements is true. You’ve probably guessed which one, but I’ll let you in on why and the stats behind it all.
Our proposal database deep-dive showed that there’s not much variation between the days of the week when it comes to close rate. Sure, there’s a slight uptick during the middle of the week but, for the most part, it’s not enough to hold back a proposal that your sales team is ready to send just because it’s Monday or whatever.
What you should track instead: proposal creation turnaround time
Actually, the focus should be on getting proposals out as quickly as possible. (As long as you’re not sending on a weekend, that is. Even with phones and today’s “always-on” culture, Saturday and Sunday are still closed-won deserts in B2B.)
The ideal turnaround time for proposal creation can vary by industry, the complexity of requirements, and so on, but, on average, salespeople only have hours, not multiple days, to get that winning proposal into your prospect’s inbox. Especially if it’s a competitive situation.
In any case, like a law of physics, proposals that are sent out faster maintain that momentum and close faster too.
3. Stop worrying about: proposal word or page count
Is a long proposal the way to win? Or is shorter better?
The data says… it depends. Our analysis tells us that the average proposal contains 11 pages. However, there wasn’t much difference close-rate-wise between a shorter four-page proposal and a longer nine-pager.
This is likely because proposal length can vary greatly depending on the industry, product or service on offer, deal size, and other factors. What might be considered way too long in one situation could be a perfectly-sized proposal in another.
So while it’s hard to generalize about proposal content, there is one blanket statement I can make.
What you should track instead: how effective your proposal content is
Instead of focusing on the number of words or pages in your sales team’s proposals, the goal should be quality over quantity. It’s not about tallies and totals; your proposal content should be about persuading the prospect, however long (or short) that takes.
Here are a couple of our most recent posts about effective proposal copywriting that might help your team accomplish this:
- 9 Words to Avoid in a Business Proposal (+ 1 You Should Always Add) [Infographic]
- 5 Simple Steps to Writing a Better Proposal Cover Letter [With Samples]
- Proposal Writing: These 3 Simple Words Will Transform Your Process
To be honest, persuasiveness and efficacy are harder aspects to get metrics for. That said, A/B testing your proposal content or templates is a great way to get feedback on what’s resonating best with your prospects. Create two proposal templates and then try different wording or switch up the order of some of your proposal’s section and monitor which version has a better close rate.
Your proposal metric mileage may vary
Take this advice with a metric ton of salt.
Just because the data indicates something, it doesn’t mean it’s the best way forward for you or your sales team. By all means, track as many metrics as you want, but do make sure you’re focusing on the ones that actually make a difference in your proposals’ success rate. The ones I mentioned above are, statistically speaking, a great place to start.
Don’t forget, if you’re hungry for more data, you can check out our full State of Proposals report with even more benchmarks and reference points for your proposal metrics.
And if you’re still sending proposals out to prospects blindly, with no insight at all into what’s happening with them? That sounds like you could use the kind of features and metrics proposal software can provide, including those discussed in this post.