B2B Sellers Rethink Proposal Management Technology

Buyers expect convenient purchase interactions - even when buying complex products and services. Old premise-based proposal managers cannot provide the level of service that is required today, but there is a sales enablement tool that can help...

John E. Kosar, III

B2B proposals are a significant value-driver. Yet, businesses do not often realize how many resources they are spending on proposals, much less how much they are losing when proposals go awry. It is common practice for sales people to write proposals after hours, for approvals to be verbal communications, for price lists to be printed (and occasionally outdated) documents, for templates to just be a save-as Word .doc, and so on.

The resources, documentation, and processes around proposals are often the dark side of SG&A. When the process goes awry, everyone puts out the fire, but very few businesses consistently measure what is working and what isn’t.

The Value of Convenience (Buyers Are Consumers Too)

First and foremost, it is necessary for businesses to recognize the value of proposals. We live in a physical, visual world, where products are naturally given more attention than the thoughts and planning needed to create them. And yet efficient design often means the difference between success and failure. If an app is difficult to use, as consumers we thoughtlessly switch to something more intuitive. We are so immersed in convenient technology that we now have the same expectations of business. Fact is: your buyers might be businesses, but you are selling to people who expect applications to delight them; you might be B2B, but you are selling into a B2C market. If you aren’t delighting users with added functionality every three months, your sales people are swimming upstream.

Facts and Figures: Using Technology to Out-Communicate the Competition

B2Bs are discovering that designing better experiences can have enormous impact. One of the largest differentiators between high-performing sales teams and underperformers is captured by the ability to “maintain consistent, personalized communications with prospects and customers.”  

Even more influential was effectiveness “at increasing sales productivity with technology.” Companies that were effective saw 5.5% annual revenue growth and 4.2% growth in profit margin, whereas companies that did not report this capability reported less than half the revenue growth (2.3%) and less than a quarter the growth in profit margin (0.7%). Put together, that is an annual EBITDA growth of 10% or 3%. How much is that worth to your organization over the next year? Three years?

Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) Drives Modern Buyer Experience

Where these figures overlap is proposal management technology, within which Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) plays a large part, particularly for B2Bs with complex, make-to-order products. For these companies, communications can be stymied by all the work it can take to push a professional proposal out the door, with buyers waiting (or not) for the next stage.

Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) technology automates and manages the sales cycle to maintain meaningful interactions with buyers until the deal is struck. The technology has developed since the 1980s but was until recently a privilege of only the largest organizations. Cloud has changed the game, and this technology is now available at an affordable cost to the middle market.

Automation presents breathtaking opportunities to track performance data, forecast, price, control, and predict deals in real-time, steps forward that are already critical to business strategy and will only become moreso with time.

Visit CPQ Integration for more information about this opportunity to transform your sales cycle and bridge the gap between business strategy and sales execution.

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