Number 1 – Make it personal.
“The quality of a proposal is indicative of a company’s desire for my business”
These were the words of a CEO when questioned about the importance of a proposal within the sales process, and perfectly sum up just how vital these documents are to a winning campaign.
So the question is; how often does a proposal or bid document leave your building that you can hand on heart say truly reflects just how determined you are to win the deal?
Businesses invest huge swathes of training budget on helping sales teams to polish their performance in meetings, learn how to present well and deliver shiny and visually interesting presentations, all with the aim of driving better conversion rates.
But what of the proposal document? This is the one element of the sales process that will be seen by multiple influential people within a business, and crucially, you are not there to guide and assist their understanding. So it had better be good!
But frequently they’re not, which is why we thought we’d put together this series of articles to highlight the three mistakes we most frequently see, and guide you on how to fix them.
So let’s start with the most important one – make it personal!
This may be a contentious thing to write for an article on a software provider’s website; but you need to be really careful how you employ technology in the proposal and bid creation process.
Over the years we have seen numerous companies who have turned to proposal management software as a way of standardising the approach across their team. The logic is that by ensuring everyone uses the same approved material you can ensure quality.
The reality is that if you’re not careful the proposals end up feeling very bland, impersonal and more like a marketing document than a bespoke proposal. The clunky melding of boilerplate material with a paragraph or two that is relevant to that opportunity can often come across worse than a quickly written but personal email!
Like a bullet point strewn presentation, the fault here isn’t with the technology; it is how it has been implemented. Proposal software tools offer a fantastic opportunity to save time, drive collaboration and approval processes and, in the case of a tool like XaitPorter, also take look and feel to a new level. But they can’t do the thinking and tailoring for you, so you have to get the implementation right.
The key to a strong proposal is that from cover to cover it has to resonate with your prospect. It should be about them, not about you, and it should reflect the impact you will have on their business, not what your product or service is all about.
So if you want to improve conversion rates with proposals that are a genuine cut above your competition, then you should definitely look to software tools to help drive collaboration and save your team time, but don’t forget to train them on how to take everything that they’ve learnt during the sales process and craft it into an engaging document.
It is the quality of the writing and the effort that you have invested into the document that will set you apart, the software is simply a tool that will give you back the time to make it personal, if you use it wisely.
About the Author
Steve Robinson is the Managing Director of sales document specialists Sales Engine. After years of sales and sales management in the IT industry, Steve honed his skills as a Director of a sales training company before embracing his passion for helping people create amazing bid and proposal documents by founding Sales Engine in 2008.