If you’re not in a sales meeting, chances are you’re following up on one. It’s a constant struggle to balance the time spent meeting with prospects with the time spent following up. And to be successful you have to do an equal amount of both.
But the amount of time spent following up with a prospect can be many more times that spent with a prospect. If we can flip that ratio around and spend more time with prospects than we do following up, it will get us one big step closer to closing more sales.
Creating proposals and contracts can require enormous amounts of time, especially if they have any one of the following:
- Items for sale that require complex configuration
- Special terms and conditions, non-disclosure agreements or other legal considerations.
- Compliance with carefully crafted marketing messages and selling points
Several companies offer tools to help sales professionals generate quotes, create proposals, get signed contracts faster, manage outstanding quotes, and close more deals.
Document Creation: Configuration Tools
Cameleon and BigMachines both offer solutions for companies with complex pricing and highly configurable products. Sales configuration tools enable users to quickly and accurately customize products and services based on the buyer’s needs.
Configuration tools are needed in order to:
- Constrain options based on product compatibility rules
- Make recommendations on product up-sells and cross-sells
- Configure nested systems that contain multiple products and services
- Support complex sizing calculations and option algorithms
- Calculate special promotions and discounts
- Generate complex proposals quickly
Document Creation: Contracts with Special Terms
Sales contracts may require input from your legal department, especially if the contracts include special terms or non-disclosure agreements.
Exari Sales Accelerator
Exari believes its Sales Accelerator product shortens sales cycles by empowering sales reps to create customized, pre-approved non-disclosure agreements without waiting for legal. That sounds a little scary — especially if you work in the legal department. But here’s how it works.
Sales reps create their pre-approved, legally-compliant documents by answering questions in a browser-based interview. The questions are created using templates designed and approved by your legal department.
Exari also offers document assembly and contract management solutions which include more sophisticated features. The Document Assembly solution makes it possible to create custom NDAs, service agreements and contracts.
According to Exari, it’s done “using intelligent templates designed and approved by your company’s legal team and sales management. All important data is captured (and available for re-use across CRM and ERP systems), and highquality documents are produced with all clauses required to manage the particular risks of the deal.”
Exari’s Contract Management solution uses a self-service contracts wizard to create and then store company compliant contracts. You can get Exari Sales Accelerator with a standard NDA for free. That’s enough for you to try it out and see how it works for you. Pricing for other editions is not publically available.
Document Creation: Marketing-Compliant Proposals
ProposalSmartz is not a Web-based application; you run the software off your own computer network. After installation it appears as an add-on to the Microsoft Word toolbar.
Proposals generally contain many common elements: Cover letter, company background, executive summary, proposal objectives and timelines are a few examples. Think of each of these elements as templates. ProposalSmartz provides the means to add, store and organize your templates for easy access through Microsoft Word.
Because sales reps build proposals, contracts and other documents using a central repository of templates, marketing can be sure its carefully crafted messaging is used. And sales reps don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time they draft proposals. Nor do they need to worry about leaving in the wrong company name as can happen when using previous proposals as templates. The cost is $90 per user/computer.
ProposalMaster on-demand is a Web-based proposal generation tool by The Sant Corporation. The two reasons to invest in a tool to help your sales reps write proposals are to:
- Save precious selling time
- Ensure accurate content that reflects your marketing message
Sant hits the nail on the head in saying, “By automating the majority of the proposal-writing process, ProposalMaster empowers you to spend less time writing and editing and more time doing what you do best — selling. Every document you create contains accurate, approved content so your marketing message always maintains a consistent look and feel.” This system works differently than ProposalSmartz.
ProposalMaster leads the sales rep through a series of questions and common answers. Once the sales rep completes the wizard, a proposal is automatically composed and presented as a Microsoft Word document that can be modified as needed. You can use ProposalMaster to create other documents as well like sales letters, personalized collateral and contracts. ProposalMaster’s database can store text, bullets, formatting, logos, pictures and other graphics that help make your proposals look professional.
ProposalMaster is offered separately or as part of ProposalMaster Suite. The Suite includes ProposalMaster, RFPMaster, ProSearch (to search for approved and relevant content), and PresentationBuilder. The Sant Corporation doesn’t make their pricing available publically. In fact, Web visitors can’t access a demo without completing a registration form. But a handy tool is provided to calculate your ROI based on a number of factors, including “time saved.”
Nancy Nardin founded Smart Selling Tools after a prestigious career in high-tech and IT market research sales. She is considered the leading expert on sales productivity tools.