You know strategically timed proactive sales proposals can put you ahead of the competition. Yet, you never have enough time (in your 12-hour workdays) to pursue all your high potential opportunities. While you can craft compelling proposals with the best of them, it takes away from your face-to-face selling time. Plus, you’d rather spend your nights and weekends with family and friends—not writing sales proposals.
Generally, you can either create sales proposals quickly or correctly. Proposal automation software shatters that limitation by giving you the tools to build tailored and professionally formatted sales proposals in record time. This way, you can put tedious, manual proposal creation tasks on autopilot and focus on what you do best: selling.
But how do you know if proposal automation software is right for you? Let’s look at five signs that your current sales proposal process is holding you back and explore how automation software can help you win more opportunities
1. It takes forever to find proposal content
You didn’t put in years to become an expert seller to spend your days searching for proposal content. Every minute spent looking for proposal content is productivity down the drain.
You blocked off thirty minutes for lunch but decide to create a proposal for a high-value lead instead. First, you dig around for content in SharePoint. Next, you hunt through old proposals saved to your computer. Finally, you try to remember—and then reset—your Dropbox password.
Suddenly, Outlook dings: you have a meeting starting in two minutes. Despite all your efforts searching, you only have half the proposal content you need. And now you’re heading into an afternoon of back-to-back meetings with your stomach rumbling because you skipped lunch.
Proposal software helps you centralize content:
How would things have been different with proposal automation software? Proposal software saves you from endless searching by providing a central library for all your proactive proposal and request for proposal (RFP) response content.
Quality proposal content libraries also support tags and folders. Tags make it simple to search for proposal content by keyword, while folders make it easy to browse to locate the content you need. Whichever method you prefer, with one go-to location for everything proposal-related, you can always find the content you need quickly.
2. You never have the right version of content
With the speed your organization is moving, and the number of contributors and reviewers involved in every project, even when you find proposal content, you have no idea if it’s current.
Your heart sinks when you realize the logo page you found features at least one customer that churned last year. Now, you can’t trust the document, but you also don’t have time to manually verify that all the other featured logos are from happy customers.
To make matters worse, the “Meet the Team” page you dug up includes a bio from someone who retired three months ago, and your “Mission and Vision” page is definitely in the wrong branding. You face a decision: go back and keep searching for better content or bite the bullet and start manually updating your proposal.
Proposal software helps you simplify version control:
Proposal automation software could have helped you avoid this pickle. Proposal software sets expiration dates for every piece of content in your proposal library and automatically routes it through review and approval workflows at the correct times. As a user, you can always be confident that the proposal content you find is accurate and up to date.
If you catch a rogue typo or want to suggest an update, you can do that in just a few clicks. Proposal software notifies the right content owner automatically. This way, you never have to struggle to figure out who owns which content or get stuck in back-and-forth email chains.
3. All you have time for is “cut, paste, and send”
When you finally find versions of your proposal content that you’re happy with, you’re out of time—and frankly, patience. So, you cut and paste everything into a Word document and call it a day.
After a promising deal stalls, you take another look at the sales proposal you sent them last week. You’re horrified: on page two, you pasted in the same paragraph twice, and the heading and bullet colors randomly change from blue to orange on page five.
As you finish skimming the proposal, you also realize that everything is boilerplate text. Other than the prospective customer’s name on the coversheet, the sales proposal is the same collection of content you send to all your prospects. While this lackluster proposal may not have ruined the deal on its own, it clearly won’t help save it.
Proposal software helps you build higher quality proposals:
Proposal automation software makes it easy to tailor proposals to your opportunities by linking different versions of the same library content together. This way, you can evaluate your content options at-a-glance and choose the version that’s most relevant to your prospect.
For example, you can follow a link from a generic “Key Differentiators” document to a version that highlights differentiators tailored to your prospect’s region and industry. While the tailored document has the same core message, localization and personalization help your proposal resonate with your prospect.
Based on the details in your CRM opportunity record, proposal software can even automatically recommend the most relevant content. With automatic content recommendations, you can create a tailored sales proposal in minutes and use the time saved to complete a thorough quality check before you share it with prospects.
4. Subject matter experts are avoiding you
It’s not your fault that your product and services portfolio is massive and complex. In fact, it’s a competitive advantage—until you need to give a prospect detailed information and can’t get ahold of a subject matter expert (SME) for help.
A target account just hired a new COO. You know she’s in the market for one of your products, and you need to send a sales proposal ASAP to outpace the competition. You also know her company is laser-focused on security, so you’ll have to address that priority up-front.
Thinking back, the last time you heard about your organization’s security approach was months ago. You could use a refresher. But your compliance officer is on vacation, support has a three-day response SLA, and the product manager won’t answer her phone. So, do you write something based on the little you remember or delay and risk losing the deal?
Proposal software helps you collaborate and find answers:
With proposal software, whenever you have a question, you can search for the approved answer in your proposal content library. Many organizations store tens of thousands of question and answer (Q&A) pairs in their library to capture details about their company, products, and services.
Of course, organizations don’t create all their Q&A pairs at once. Instead, they load their first batch of Q&A pairs during implementation and then continue to crowdsource information from sales and proposal teams organically over time.
If you ever have a question that doesn’t already have a pre-written answer, you can use the workflows built-in to your proposal software to route the question to an SME for help. When the SME replies, the software saves their answer to your content library, so you never have to ask the same question twice.
5. You’re wasting time fighting with formatting
Before you send out sales proposals, it’s up to you—and you alone—to format them to professional standards. Unfortunately, you don’t have time to aim for perfection, so you settle for good enough, get your proposals out the door, and don’t look back.
After manually cobbling together a proposal, it looks like a jumble of cut and pasted information. So, you turn to Microsoft Word’s trusty Format Painter and attempt to standardize the style. That goes a long way, but the line spacing is still off in a few places, and your bulleted lists refuse to indent by the same amount.
You’re prepared to let those imperfections go for the sake of time. But then you see your CEO’s face is running into the margin on the “Meet the Team” page, and, for some reason, the “Implementation Steps” flowchart is in shades of pink. At this point, you’d rather make a cold call than keep fighting with formatting, but you’re out of options. You don’t have the time or budget to get professional help.
Proposal software makes formatting a breeze:
Quality proposal automation software saves you from wasting time formatting your documents by storing all your content in approved branding. This means every piece of content you add to your sales proposal is pre-formatted and brand-compliant by default.
If you work with pre-built proactive proposal shells, proposal software can even automatically recommend the most effective content for your opportunity, like coversheets, text, charts, images, and more. And, as you add and adjust content in your proposal, the software automatically updates tables of content and appendixes for you.
Get ready to win more with proposal automation software
If you’re interested in taking a closer look at how proposal automation software can save you time and help you win more, be sure to check out Upland Qvidian. For over 25 years, Qvidian has helped sales teams create high-quality, proactive sales proposals. Creating proposals with Qvidian is like having a team of experts on call.
Qvidian also literally has a team of real-life human experts ready and waiting to help—everyone from Customer Success Managers to Education Services, Professional Services, Technical Support, and more. And they’re not only Qvidian experts: they’re also proposal experts who can offer guidance on topics like how to write more effective sales proposals.
To learn more about how Qvidian can help you create winning proactive sales proposals or to schedule a custom demo, contact a Qvidian proposal and RFP response expert.