Creating and delivering a business proposal is a challenging process. Completing a proposal always takes much longer than expected. Documents need to be converted to different formats, salespeople are forever fielding feedback and comments, and files are scattered across multiple file sharing sources.
If you’re done with challenging business proposals, here’s how to streamline the process:
1. Manage the scattered process of collaboration
In theory, collaborating on a business proposal should be easy, but it’s not. There are too many files to keep track of, and the collaboration process is choppy.
Most traditional proposal documents aren’t suitable for collaboration. For instance, you can’t collaborate inside of a PDF or spreadsheet file, and the only way to collaborate in a Word document is through comments. However, comments aren’t the most efficient way to collaborate. They get lost, overwritten, and are difficult to manage.
In addition to necessary documents not lending themselves to collaboration, teams are using multiple software applications to manage proposal components like Google Drive, Google Docs, Email, Dropbox, Box, and even the company’s web server. Files that are scattered throughout multiple sources makes it impossible for a team member to be certain they’re working with the most recently updated document components.
The solution is to employ a collaboration strategy that centralizes all components of the collaboration process. This simplification can be achieved with Proposable.
Proposable is a software program that keeps all information and communications in one place. For instance, instead of communicating about a proposal over email, team members can ask questions and share feedback within the proposal itself. Sales teams can hand off a proposal by selecting a new owner. When the proposal is sent to a manager for review, all comments are sent as part of the proposal so they can review suggestions and make appropriate edits where necessary.
2. Keep tabs on content
All files should be located in one application and organized intuitively. Team members should be able to look through folders to find what they’re looking for without having to reference a complex legend.
It helps to work with a naming convention for all files and folders. Techopedia defines a naming convention as a set of rules applied to add clarity and readability for organizational purposes. Using a naming convention with files simply means naming your files in a consistent way that makes them easy to find. For example:
Instead of naming a proposal file “proposal_clientname.pdf,” you’d name it “03-08-2019_clientname_proposal.pdf.” Each time the proposal document is updated, the name remains the same except the date is changed. Placing the date first will allow you to sort the files and quickly locate the latest version.
3. Avoid industry jargon or complex language
Think about the people who will review your proposal and make sure to write in a way they’ll understand. Unless an abbreviation or acronym is widely known to the general population (like “EST” for “Eastern Standard Time”), it’s best to avoid them and write out the full words instead. Using obscure abbreviations in a proposal is one of six bad habits described by Hubspot.
Never assume the person who reads your proposal will be fluent in industry jargon, even when your client uses that jargon in his or her communications with you. Jargon and complex language will inhibit a reader’s ability to comprehend the proposal. When the content of a proposal isn’t easily understood, it’s more likely to be rejected.
4. Avoid vague or boastful language
Filler words won’t get a proposal accepted. Phrases like “award-winning,” “top-quality,” and “we place our customers first” will be meaningless to the reader. Likewise, boasting will lose your credibility. For instance, don’t call your company “world class” or say you’re “uniquely qualified.”
Focus on what you’re going to do for the customer, rather than make yourself look important. Be humble about your credentials, and state them in a way that doesn’t boast.
5. Manage prospects who request extensive security details
When you’re in the IT world, nothing slows down the proposal process like extensive security questions asked by the client. It makes sense for clients to ask plenty of questions regarding projects that take place in the cloud. However, not all team members are able to provide technical answers. Regardless, their responses will influence how a prospect sees the product.
If IT-related questions come in, route those questions to the person who will provide the best possible responses.
Incorporate these strategies for a stronger proposal
A winning proposal will show a prospect how you can meet their needs. Writing a proposal isn’t an easy process, so use these strategies to create stronger, more convincing business proposals.