The round is going great. Your fighter has been light on their feet, dancing around deadlines and sparring with objections like a pro. Your colleagues and trainers are cheering them on over in the corner. Everything is going to plan.
They’re ready to close this thing out. They just need that one last sales doc. They have their eyes on the prize.
Then, out of nowhere, a right hook lays your sales rep out flat.
Except that it wasn’t really ‘out of nowhere’. And, oh yeah, your sales rep didn’t get hit by an actual punch.
What they just got hit with was a sales doc workflow obstacle: a person, a tool, or another part of your process that is slowing your sales reps down, setting them back, and making it much harder for them to get content in front of prospects. That makes it difficult to win, especially in a competitive deal situation.
This type of thing can happen even if your doc workflow is well planned. It’s like noted pigeon aficionado Mike Tyson says: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
In other words, just because you have a workflow doesn’t mean it’s working well.
If your sales doc workflow isn’t as productive as it could be, it’s giving your sales team’s revenue targets a jab to the jaw by stopping them up every time they go to create a proposal, a sell sheet, client quote, or other types of sales documents.
How to find and knock out your sales workflow bottlenecks
You want consistent quality sales doc going out to every prospect. Your salespeople want to get them done quickly. And, sometimes, when quality meets quantity you end up with a bottleneck.
Let’s dive into some of the most common workflow problems. Since we help Proposify users improve their process in these areas all the time, I’ll show you how you can better manage your team’s efficiency and dodge-and-weave each of them like a champ, too.
Quality and Control Bottlenecks
- Everything has to pass across the desk (digitally or otherwise) of an insanely busy person, like the CEO, CRO, or VP Sales. They don’t really have time to approve every sales doc but they still want some level of oversight.
- The sales leader has no insight into what’s going on and constant check-ins and approvals are the only way to regain some control but it slows their team down.
- Every sales doc has the same priority. Big money deals get the same amount of attention as small ones, so the sheer volume of documents that need customization is creating bottlenecks.
- Standardize and template your sales docs to decrease time spent on customization AND on getting approval for each one that goes out. Having a ‘stock’ document that your sales reps can quickly tweak and send out, especially on smaller deals, will allow them to put their time and effort on bigger deals.
- Same with the people who need to approve what’s being sent out. Standardized content can provide peace of mind and decrease the amount of small-deal customized documents that will need their rubber stamp.
- The editing process for documents is clumsy at best and provides too many opportunities for human error. Manual editing functions, like search and replace, make everyone paranoid about missing something important and sending a document with errors big and small. This means every single piece is proofread closely, which adds time to its turnaround.
- There’s no easy way for multiple contributors to collaborate in the same document and provide feedback and approval. This leads to multiple versions of the document (SellSheet_v1, SellSheet_v2, SellSheet_final, SellSheet_finalFINAL....) that get lost in disorganized internal file storage or disappear into a Slack channel and no one knows which copy is the correct one.
- Use a system that allows for variables and static and reusable sections.
- Move away from standalone docs to a system that lets you edit, comment, and collaborate easily without creating multiple versions.
- The tension between sales and the other departments you rely on to create sales docs starts boiling over. Having sales document assistance from other departments is great. But unless doc creation is their main priority, your sales team’s requests can get pushed lower on the list. This leads to interdepartmental stress and a longer turnaround time, which can spell disaster, especially for competitive deals.
- Speaking of other departments, in many cases marketing wants tight control over branding, content, and visuals on the sales documents going out, but this oversight creates more steps in the process, slowing things down even more.
- Basically, your sales doc process needs to gain speed without losing quality. Boilerplate content, branded templates, and a solid style guide can help relieve some of the pressure. Tighten up your process or use a system where other departments can set things up once and then they don’t need constant intervention.
- Too much manual work. Repetitive and time-consuming. It could be better used in outreach and selling. People can’t find what they need in the unorganized insanity of ad-hoc content storage. and spend time searching and/or bugging other people.
- One person is responsible for all sales doc creation, which is NOT scalable. They get overwhelmed and stressed out by the demand (everyone wants THEIR proposal or sell sheet yesterday). Or the wrong person is creating proposals. For example, an engineer or other subject matter expert is doing them but it’s not the best use of their time. Then, marketing gets peeved because the content becomes too technical/in the weeds and not a persuasive overview. So they revise it, which adds another step.
- Automate your process and make it easy for sales reps to put together their own docs as needed, instead of putting the onus on one person to create everyone’s stuff. Get reusable content from SMEs so you’re only bugging them for big deals or small specific technical details once in a while.
- For bigger documents like proposals, add a proposal manager to your team to coordinate the creation process from start to finish.
- The software tools that are meant to help actually slow your sales team down. For example, your team uses Word for proposals but every time there’s an MS Office update the proposal formatting gets messed up and everyone has to reformat.
- Your sales reps aren’t adopting the tools you already have in place because they don’t find them user-friendly. So they ignore them or only use a few features here and there. This means that your sales team doesn’t operate from one source of truth. Your sales tools and software don’t connect or talk to one another so keeping information up-to-date is a chore (one that sometimes doesn’t get done in a timely fashion).
- Upgrade your sales doc tools to a purpose-built all-in-one solution and/or one that integrates with all your other software. Choose something that’s easy to use and includes a comprehensive onboarding program so that your sales team can get comfortable and be successful using it.
The goal: a scalable, manageable, efficient workflow
Your sales docs should be an asset to your sales process, not the piece that increases sales rep workload and decreases their chances of closing.
We’ve found that, for most sales teams, the winning combination includes thoughtful automation (including pre-approvals), smooth internal handoffs, the right amount of oversight, and robust sales doc software to manage the entire process.
An efficient sales doc workflow like that means sales leaders like you can be confident that high-quality sales docs are getting in front of prospects faster and helping your team win more of those heavyweight deals.