Your salespeople can create consistent, winning proposals in minutes by using proposal automation software.
Posted Feb 9, 2004
In today's economy salespeople have to write more proposals, and better proposals, than ever before. The business environment has become more competitive and complex, and customers have become confused and more demanding. As a result, they are likely to listen to a presentation, nod their heads, and mutter those dreaded words: "Sounds good! Why don't you put that in writing for me?"
Writing proposals is about as much fun as having your teeth drilled. But by using proposal automation software, your salespeople can create consistent, winning proposals in minutes. To successfully automate your proposal process, follow these simple strategies:
Link the proposal automation software with existing sales management systems, other application programs, and key data bases
If you already have contact management software or a CRM application, you want your proposal automation tool to retrieve the customer information from it and write a record of the proposal back to the history file. Ideally it should include a link so you can open the proposal from the sales system. It should work with standard word processing and presentation software, and not require anything proprietary. And no funky databases, either.
The proposal automation software must have at least a 3:1 value ratio
Users often resist using new technology because they don't see enough value. Barton Goldenberg, president of CRM consulting firm ISM Inc., notes that for every one piece of information the system asks the user to input, the system delivers at least three valuable pieces of information to the user, or that user will never use the tool again. The ratio makes sense. A proposal automation system has to deliver an immediate ROI in terms of increased wins and timesaving, so the rep will return to it with enthusiasm.
The system must produce a persuasive, customized proposal
Slamming together big chunks of boilerplate documents creates a generic, self-centered proposal. There are proposal automation systems that have a chunk of text labeled executive summary. But how can one executive summary fit every proposal? It's only possible if the executive summary focuses exclusively on "us and our products," not the customers and their needs.
The software must facilitate team collaboration
On larger opportunities, especially when there's an RFP involved, you need to work as a team. That means everybody pitching in, answering the RFP questions, and contributing, all at the same time. If the proposal automation system doesn't allow people to work together, it's not a tool, it's a toy.
About the Author
Tom Sant, founder of The Sant Corporation and author of Persuasive Business Proposals, is internationally recognized as an expert on proposal writing. Contact him at www.santcorp.com
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