Looking to boost sales cycle efficiency? Look to a quote and proposal automation solution

| By:
Sam Demulling

Congratulations: you’re in the final stretch of the sales cycle. You successfully connected with a new client, gave them your pitch, met with them face to face, and had a follow-up call with their whole team. But you’re not over the finish line yet. Now it’s time to send over your project proposal.

In many ways, quoting and proposal creation is the most crucial aspect of the sales process. It’s the last sprint—the final chance your team gets to showcase expertise, prove your ability to achieve results, and convince the client that your price tag fits your worth.

But all too often, proposals aren’t treated with the gravitas they deserve. This isn’t just a statement of work—it’s a legal document. Every element of the proposal, from the choice of font to your quote, will stand as a reflection of your business.

So, what’s the best move? Far too many businesses still use spreadsheets for quoting and proposals, but this route leaves room for countless errors. There’s a better way. Quote and proposal automation solutions help businesses create timely, accurate quotes with an impressive look and feel.

How? Well, it’s not magic—just exceptional business intelligence made accessible through a user-friendly platform.

While many solutions are purporting to offer these sorts of benefits, not every option can deliver the automated insights your sales team needs to achieve success. Before you decide which software is the best fit, consider the potential benefits, possible risks, and other criteria for evaluating quoting and proposal solutions.

Advantages of quote and proposal automation

So, what are the primary benefits of using this software? The short answer: time, accuracy, professionalism, and ease of communication (to name a few). The long answer? Well, that’s worth diving into.

Automate the quote and proposal process for sales reps

Consider, for a second, what the life of a sales rep was like in 1999. Sharing information was a constant battle. Half the day time was spent on the phone with vendors, tracking down accurate pricing, and double-checking inventory. Not only was this process cumbersome, but it was also extremely time-consuming. And if there was ever a backlog of proposals and quotes? Well, a roadblock like that could stop business in its tracks.

Luckily for us, it’s not 1999. We’ve had 20 years to develop a better solution, and we’ve succeeded. Many quote and proposal tools give sales reps instant access to the most up-to-date information on pricing and inventory. Beyond this, some automation solutions will actually capture information about activities and tasks and autofill later so your sales team won’t waste time manually filling in redundant data.

Simplify complex bill of materials

Of course, we can’t talk about time-saving opportunities without hitting on product quotes. At some point during the sales process, you may need the latest product quotes from distributors—but this information will arrive in a very large, very complicated spreadsheet.

Without quote and proposal automation, companies spend hours reformatting the material to turn it into a document that's appropriate to send to a client. Quote and proposal automation can automatically take that spreadsheet from the distributor and format it into a presentable quote. It’s a simple innovation that will save your team thousands each year in productive working hours.

Professional, Visually Appealing Quotes and Proposals

As beloved as the Microsoft Office Suite may be, it does have limitations. Read: proposals. If a company isn’t using a quote and proposal automation tool, they’re likely creating their quotes in Word or Excel. These options do work, but they can also look very unprofessional—especially if they’re full of typos.

With quote and proposal automation software, you gain access to professional-grade sales proposal templates. Not only do these templates look stellar, but they also take much of the busy-work of formatting and optimizing proposals off your plate.

What’s more, the templates allow your team to put your best face forward in a fun, creative way. Businesses using a quote and proposal tool often employ a graphic designer to create a proposal template that reflects the company's branding. It’s an extra step that can impress new clients and let them know you care about the small details—especially when it comes to the sales cycle.

Expediting the procurement process

Sales and project management should be in sync every step of the way. And with quote and proposal automation, they can be. Some solutions, including ConnectWise CPQ™ (formerly Sell), can expedite the procurement process by integrating quotes with up-to-date inventory information from top technology distributors. Then, using your project management platform or ConnectWise PSA™ (formerly Manage), you can automatically place orders with distributors, create the purchase order, and instantly organize that information for use later on. It’s a simple hack that helps your customers get their orders faster—and helps your business become a shining testament to efficiency.

Lock down pricing and set pricing rules

Without a quote and proposal automation tool, it can be difficult to lock down prices and margins. On an Excel document, a sales rep can easily change every field—which can be a pretty scary thought, considering one wrong keystroke could lose your company thousands in revenue. With a quote and proposal automation tool, companies can set certain pricing rules and lock down margins, preventing reps from discounting too much and ensuring certain profit margins stay set in stone.

Some solutions even give your customers the option to interact with the quantity of a product or service and automatically update the pricing to reflect their choice. It’s an easy way to upsell while also taking a step back, since the template can provide the customer with all the information they need to make a purchasing decision.

Integration with CRM and sales information

The true power of quote and proposal automation comes from its integration with a CRM, PSA, or accounting package. Sales and quote information should not live in a silo. When the data goes back to the business management applications, it can be turned into meaningful information, like pipeline, sales rep performance, close rates, time to close, and more. The inability to correctly manage the sales pipeline for your team can lead to a 70% decrease in closed sales deals. Needless to say, this disorganization can be severely detrimental to the growth of your organization.

Beware: not all solutions are equal

Not all quote and proposal solutions are created equal. Some offer customers the ability to sign the proposal electronically—and this feature should not be underestimated. According to the Aberdeen Group, best-in-class sales organizations employ e-signature 36% more often than the average firm. Giving your customers the option to sign electronically shows them you mean business—and makes it clear that you’re ready to get their project rolling the moment they hit ‘Accept.’

Quote and proposal automation can help you reach the next level of business

As the speed of business continues to ramp up, your business needs to keep pace—and make sure your team’s time is spent on building relationships, not proposals. Quote and proposal automation can help you stay on track for success by shortening your sales cycle, giving you access to professional-looking templates, and helping your team easily access and share information.

Don’t stick with a solution that’s ‘good enough.’ Invest in a quote and proposal automation software that puts your business on the cutting edge of innovation.