It is said that we have experienced fifteen years of technology innovation in the last fifteen months. This has brought lots of opportunity and ‘noise’ in the technology space but for many, it has only added to their fears. Many business owners are asking themselves questions such as “What should I be doing on the technology front?” and “I don’t have big budgets to spend on systems – so should I just do nothing?” and “What does digital transformation mean anyway?”. The fact is that you can make some technology moves that are fairly simple and inexpensive to implement and can deliver a positive ROI for your business.
I have talked a lot about CRM software being an effective way of standardising your sales processes. Actions such as getting all your contacts together, recording sales activities (like follow up calls), perhaps doing some targeted marketing and having dashboard reporting. However, a big part of many businesses sales process is the proposal process. If you are like many businesses, you meet with a prospect, talk about your product or service, have a positive conversation and then agree to send a proposal after the meeting. (Why clients can’t just agree to do business on the spot I don’t know…).
I’ll get the proposal done I promise, I just need to finish something
That is when the fun starts. You get back to your business and get swallowed up in day-to-day matters and the proposals are put on the back burner. I’ll get to it tonight… Days or even weeks go by. Then you have to find a similar proposal you have done in the past, try and remember what you talked about in the meeting, change all the details and save a new version. (How many times have you forgot to change a small detail in a header or footer and Phoebe received Monica’s proposal…?)
It felt good at the time, but not now sorry
Then you PDF it (or similar), send it to the client and you wait. (Hopefully you would put a task in your CRM to follow up the proposal in a few days). And you wait some more. You leave voice mails and emails. The prospect or client has: a) lost their excitement about your service and moved on; b) waited so long for the proposal that they didn’t think you were keen; c) received another proposal in the meantime which was just as good or d) talked to the Board member who has a grandson that can do that and strongly suggests you use his services. Look, you may end up winning the work, but you have allowed time and other distractions to get in the way of your potential success.
Need more time and money? Use Proposal Management software
Enter proposal management software. Not only do electronic proposals look better and increase your chances of winning – it is proven that proposals with electronic acceptance/signatures are more than twice as likely to close – they can also be turned around very quickly. Many corporates have been using systems like DocuSign for years to facilitate the signing of contracts, however there is no reason why smaller businesses can’t do a similar thing.
Consider meeting with the prospect as you normally would, then getting back to the car and being able to complete the proposal on your phone or tablet there and then. You can include a video about your services, or a more personal video about yourself or the team within the proposal itself. The client could then accept the proposal electronically before you got back to the office. Or they may wish to ask questions and collaborate about the proposal electronically via a chat box.
The main thing you need to do is put effort into categorising, documenting and pricing your services and standard terms and conditions. These get stored and then reused for each new proposal. So, when doing a new proposal, you are not retyping text, you are just choosing from a list and then making minor changes if you need to. A welcome note can be added for the personal touch and then off it goes!
Don’t wait for 15 years or 15 months, just do it now!
If you think there is no way you can standardise your offerings – if every sale is totally unique and requires a lot of customised text, then maybe proposal management software is not for you. But for most of us, proposal management software will save your time, elevate your professionalism and brand and give you greater chance to win business. It’s a ‘no brainer’! Also, most proposal management systems can easily integrate with your CRM (if you have one). A simple and relatively easy way to continue, or start, your digital transformation.