Driving Quality Into the Proposal Process
Reynolds & Reynolds built uniformity into its sales approach to improve productivity and results.
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An automobile assembly line is a study in predictable, repeatable quality. So it comes as little surprise that Reynolds & Reynolds, which specializes in software and services for the automotive industry, wanted to build more consistency and uniformity into its sales process. On the verge of launching a new generation of its products, the company decided to put a powerful set of rules and automated collateral generators behind its sales presentation process, also eliminating a great deal of repeated effort on the part of the salespeople. "One of the most glaring things recognized at the executive level was the disparity in the quality of customer-facing proposals and presentations to our customers," says Andrew Fremuth, program manager of sales tools and processes for Reynolds. To boost the effectiveness of its sales force by bolstering the proposal-creation process, Reynolds adopted a full suite of solutions from sales productivity developer Pragmatech. With the new system Reynolds account executives use a Web-based interface to prepare their entire slate of sales presentations, creating both live presentation material and leave-behind collateral with the same customized information. Issues like dealer-specific competitive factors, pain points, and deal size are factored in to create a customized presentation for each proposal. "The resulting collateral generated for customer delivery [is] a married, complementary set," Fremuth says. "Pragmatech allows us to craft the material to ensure that the value proposition that directly addresses customer needs is addressed within the contents of those documents." Reynolds invested in a proposal management system, rather than emphasizing additional training on uniform proposal preparation, because the company believes the technology will ultimately deliver the greatest return over time. Because Reynolds did not have a centralized collateral database in the past, it would still have been difficult to drive consistency with training. "There was never any effective delivery mechanism for putting something like that in place. In sending out material on CDs, you have to rely heavily on the practices of the salesperson," Fremuth says. Reynolds began its implementation in April 2002, and has since expanded the use of the sales presentation portal to cover the entire sales staff and product line. As adoption rose, the company began adjusting the links between the stage of the prospect-to-customer life cycle and the materials presented to the customers at each stage, gaining greater insight on the types of information each customer needed to progress a deal. Aside from the intangible benefits of a more uniform sales process, Reynolds enjoyed a 28 percent drop in proposal creation time its first year, and an additional 7 percent decrease in year two. About three in four sales representatives (approximately the size of the sales force population targeted with this initiative) believe presentation quality has improved. "More important," Fremuth says, "we've determined how to capture [customer] needs and tie them to value statements we know our solutions can deliver on." The Payoff Using an enterprisewide proposal generation system, Reynolds & Reynolds has:
  • reduced proposal creation time by more than 30 percent;
  • improved proposal quality;
  • implemented a formal way to capture customer needs and tie them to the value that the company can deliver.
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