How to Create Perfect Quotes and Proposals

sales proposals and quotes

By Madelyn Newman

If you’re in sales, you know how important quotes and proposals can be to the sales process; it’s one of the last chances you’ll have to make an impression before the client makes a decision.

Creating the perfect quote or proposal is not easy. There are so many things to consider. Of course you need accurate content with zero errors, but you also need a compelling design that represents your company’s core values and ideals. Quotes that are easy to read and comprehend make the decision to say yes simple for your clients and prospects. In today’s fast-moving, mobile world, plain and boring Excel spreadsheets no longer make the cut.

Here are our three best practices for creating the perfect quote or proposal. With more than 8 years (and counting) in the industry, we know a thing or two about closing the sale.

  1. Use approved templates to ensure consistent quality.

You want every single quote and proposal you send to represent your company well, from your brand’s specific tone to core values. If quote-development standards aren’t acknowledged and upheld, you risk creating a sloppy and confusing proposal.

It’s important to give your reps a path to follow when quoting. To ensure professional branding, create approved templates for all of your sales reps to use when creating quotes and proposals. We also suggest a designated checklist to track the steps in the sales cycle, so you can ensure success every single time. By keeping formatting and processes clean and consistent, you’ll be putting your best foot forward with clients.

  1. Customize your proposal with personalized options.

People don’t buy from companies, they buy from people; therefore, it’s important to remember to personalize your quoting templates.

Most customers crave customization. Here are just a few of the ways you can appeal to each client specifically:

  • Interactive quotes – What if I decide I need more? Or maybe less? By sending quotes with interactive drop-down menus, you can let customers select quantities and options they need.
  • Anticipating the customer’s needs – By understanding what inspired a simple request, you can create more opportunities for add-on sales. Anticipate your customers’ needs before they arise, and help them make wise choices without doing a lot of additional work. This will take your quotes from good to better to best.
  • Mobile-friendly quoting – Ever been on-site with a client and your stellar selling skills convinced him or her that more product was needed than what was quoted? By being mobile friendly, you can update the proposal without a lot of extra work.
  1. Deliver on time.

Keeping deadlines equals professionalism. Remember, your clients might be receiving competitive bids. If you aren’t delivering quotes and proposals on time, they might be more likely to consider those other options.

This is where quote and proposal automation can save you. Not only can Quosal help you create templates, it will also deliver updates to you throughout the sales cycle as your prospect interacts with the proposal. This will help you respond more quickly to customer needs. By automating all of these otherwise manually updated quoting tasks, you’ll never miss another deadline again!

A lot of people struggle to deliver a great sales experience, but by creating a more intuitive quoting process based on these best practices, you’ll create a great competitive advantage for your company.

Madelyn-Newman_jpgMadelyn Newman is community specialist at QuosalJoin Quosal at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 16.

 

Sales 2.0 Conference Philadelphia

Image via Abhijit Mhetre

Posted in #s20c, Conference Sessions, Conference Speakers, Sales & Technology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Four Tips to Help B2B Sellers Succeed with Millennial Buyers

millennial buyers

by Dustin Grosse

Understanding Millennials (Generation Y) is critical to future success in any business; this group of 80 million Echo Boomers will make up 50 percent of the US workforce by 2020. They were raised on technology and are constantly socially connected, multitasking, and self-educating. Their expectations and preferred methods for engaging are changing how sellers, marketers, and their leaders must operate. Modern sales methods and technologies that generate rapid insights and credibility are critical to succeeding with this group.

How is selling to Millennials different? Here are four key ways Gen Y is changing sales:

  1. They’re all about mobility.In today’s connected world, people expect service anytime and from any location. Millennials grew up with mobile technology in their hands and are wedded to its convenience. This is true of both buyers and sellers.Today’s modern sellers must productively work from anywhere, because Millennial customers expect instantaneous interaction. This doesn’t mean merely responding to customer emails from mobile devices; it also means sending customer proposals and sales content even when sellers are on the road. In our mobile-connected world, leveraging the best mobile sales solutions will earn you more opportunities to attract, retain, and develop customers.
  1. Millennial buyers educate themselves about potential vendors and products before first meetings.In the modern sales world, first impressions are made before your first meeting. According to advisory company CEB, roughly 57 percent of most buying-decision processes are completed before customers even talk to suppliers. Salespeople must quickly understand perceptions held by prospects and offer real-time insights to influence them and earn their business. Old methods of controlling the sale through rigid, linear discovery processes are dead.Successful salespeople use solutions that help demonstrate their confidence in flowing with whatever motivates prospects. They leverage technology to predict and gain real-time insights to focus on customer value – nothing more, nothing less. They know what content captures interest and what’s being overlooked. They track online where proposals are being circulated to better understand who has influence in our increasingly consensus-driven purchasing processes.
  1. To sell to Millennials, you must be able to anticipate customer needs before customers articulate them.Because Millennials are so comfortable with multitasking, they’re often accused of having short attention spans. They have higher expectations of what sellers will bring beyond what they can learn from the Web on their own. Delivering a standard sales presentation isn’t enough. Millennials expect content to be tailored to capture their attention and involvement, outreach to happen when they’re interested, and follow-up to be nearly immediate.Salespeople will be far more successful reaching out immediately following signals of interest, such as a prospect’s opening an email or viewing content. Sales reps who use technology for alerts and to find out which parts of the content prospects have viewed can respond at the right moment with tailored messaging that breaks through. This approach helps customers feel their time is valued, not wasted, and that their salesperson is acting like a thoughtful business partner.
  1. Social selling is more the norm than the exception.Millennials trust their peers and tremendously value their constant connections via social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, rating sites, and online communication. They believe these communities provide more accurate and timely answers than slick sales- and marketing-focused vendor Websites.Social selling is not a fad; it’s the modern source for sales clout, much like country clubs were in prior decades. Modern sales platforms that provide online connections to amplify content through these channels provide sellers with new sources of trusted relevance.

Millennials are the future of buying and selling. Connecting with them is the key to success in our online global economy. Leveraging sales and marketing technology that engages Millennials is no longer nice to have, it’s a necessity.

What’s your game plan to sell to Millennial buyers? Register now to join Dustin Grosse at the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on April 2728, 2015, and learn more from his presentation, “Modern Selling with Insights Is the Key to Success with Millennials.”

DustinGrosse_75x100Dustin Grosse is chief operating officer of ClearSlide.

 

 

HeaderSF2015_blog

 

[Image via Flickr / Nguyen Hung Vu]

Posted in Conference Sessions, Conference Speakers, Sales 2.0 Conference, Sales Management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Does a Work-Life Balance Exist in Sales?

by Alice Heiman 

As always, I am looking forward to the upcoming Sales 2.0 Conference at the Ritz- Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia. (Not registered yet? Click here and use my discount code s2cah50.) Not just because I love being the MC and Chief Networking Officer, but because there is so much learning and great discussion.

As an entrepreneur, I sell and deliver as well as run my company, so I’m looking forward to hearing Stew Friedman, Director, Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, talk about what a successful work/life integration looks like.

Work Life Balance Sales Stew Friedman Most great salespeople work a lot of hours and are always available when a customer or prospect calls. Personally, I love what I do and will spend every waking hour doing it.

However, I also know I need breaks from my business sometimes. I function better when I take time away on a weekly basis, with longer vacations occasionally.

Stew’s book, Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life, outlines three key ideas: 1) be real, 2) be whole, and 3) be innovative. Here’s what he says.

Start by considering three principles; be real, be whole, and be innovative. To be real is to act with authenticity by clarifying what’s important to you. To be whole is to act with integrity by recognizing how the different parts of your life (work, home, community, self) affect one another. All this examination allows you to be innovative. You act with creativity by experimenting with how things get done in ways that are good for you and for the people around you.

If you’re a salesperson, his three principles are essential. Your prospects want to deal with real people who act with integrity and bring creative ideas to the table. Because you’re faces with so much competition, you have to differentiate yourself. Being the salesperson with the creative ideas can make or break your success. Transactional sales are part of every business, but we want fewer transactional sales and more opportunities to develop relationships that lead to long-term customers.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hear Stew speak at Sales 2.0! See you in Philly!

Register today and use my code: s2cah50.

HeaderSF2015_blog

Alice Heiman, is founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC and has been helping companies increase sales for more than a decade. This is a slightly edited version of a post that appeared originally on her blog and is used here with permission. 

Posted in Conference Speakers, Sales 2.0, Sales 2.0 Events | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Three Pillars of Sales Success

Gerhard Gschwandtner Sales 2.0 Conference host

If you run a sales organization, you know how difficult it can be to stay on top of technology solutions that will help your salespeople perform better and enable them to have successful conversations with customers. On March 16 at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the folks below will share their thoughts on three important aspects of managing both people and technology. Join us there and find out why past attendees have recommended our events for staying current on emerging trends that affect B2B sales organizations.

Jeff Seeley Carew Sales 2.0 Conference People, Process, and Technology: Upgrading Your Sales Teams as Fast as Technology

People, process, and technology are the three pillars of sales success. To win, sales managers must continually improve all three. While technology improves faster and is often the focus of organizations, savvy sales leaders must find ways to leverage their people and optimize processes to meet the fluid demands of an unpredictable market. In this session, Jeff Seeley, CEO of Carew International, will share the best practices of sales leaders who have dramatically improved their processes and people and achieved outstanding results.

Josh Gray Oracle Sales 2.0 Conference Increase Your Sales Productivity by Producing Faster and More Accurate Quotes and Proposals

Help your sales staff, channels, and customers find the right products through guided selling. Quickly generate sales quotes and proposals right from your CRM system. In this session, Josh Gray, Vice President, Development, Oracle, will outline how to streamline your sales process from inquiry to order with flexible, cloud solutions. It’s a level of speed and accuracy your sales force will love and customers will appreciate.

Kevin Higgins Fusion Sales 2.0 Conference Transform Information into Insights: How to Equip Your Sales Force to Have Better Business Conversations

Customers have more information and access to information than ever before. This knowledge makes customers more sophisticated and savvy, leading to increased expectations. Salespeople now need to find ways to provide more value. Through research and work with Fortune 500 companies, Fusion Learning has created a process that equips salespeople to generate insights resulting in better business conversations. Kevin Higgins, CEO of Fusion Learning Inc., will engage you in an interactive session and demonstrate the impact this process has on your ability to proactively provide value to your clients.

HeaderPhiladelphia2015_blog

Posted in Conference Sessions, Conference Speakers, Sales & Technology, Sales 2.0 Conference | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to Embrace Your Fear of Rejection

By Jia Jiang

Recently I discovered a strategy for beating my fears. I call it “rejection attempt,” a deliberate effort to experience rejection.

This wasn’t easy for me. As someone who grew up wanting to be an entrepreneur, I had never believed in any sort of self-help or even business training. I thought worrying about my emotions was for the weak and gullible. Instead, I thought I should worry about real-world achievements, such as making great products that people could use or inventing awesome technologies that would change the world.

My mind-set changed when I realized how much the fear of failure and rejection had held me back in the first 30 years of my life. I didn’t put myself out there – I stayed in the cozy comfort zone. When I had good ideas, I quickly abandoned them after someone I trusted told me how dumb they were, only to see someone else turn them into a wild success.

I eventually went all in trying to pursue my entrepreneurial dream, and rejection from an investor made me cry and almost abandon everything. I realized how fragile I was in that moment.

Fear had a direct impact on my business and personal life. If I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur or businessperson, I would have to develop “emotional intelligence,” or – simply – guts.

I did so by having people reject me for 100 straight days (thanks again to my friend Jason Comely for the inspiration). After my rejection journey, I made a breakthrough. I realized that rejection isn’t something I should shy away from but something I could use to my advantage.

By getting rejected, I learned not to give a damn about people’s opinions and judgment. I became relentless in pursuing my goals. I learned that I can’t control and don’t want to manipulate others’ feelings and attitudes toward me, and all that matters is what I can control: my own actions, emotions, and reactions.

Lastly, I learned that courage is not like height, which is genetic, or even intelligence. Instead, it’s like muscle, which can be developed through exercise. In this case, repeatedly seeking rejection is the exercise.

This month, I designed and hosted my first-ever product, The Rejection Gym. Six brave souls took the challenge: to be rejected every day for 30 days. The results were nothing short of astonishing. I learned that I was helping people to not only overcome their fear of rejection but fear of a lot of things: judgment, networking, failure, saying no, public speaking. It’s an exercise that helps you overcome fear.

On March 16, 2015, I’ll be speaking to an audience of B2B sales leaders at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia. Join me there and let me know what your biggest fear is; I will help you beat it.

Jia Jiang is author of Rejection Proof and founder of FearBuster. This post originally appeared here, on Jia Jiang’s blog, and is used here with permission. Slight modifications have been made with approval from the author.

Sales 2.0 Conference

Posted in Conference Sessions, Conference Speakers, Motivation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lead the Life You Want: 3 Traits of Very Successful People

 Sales 2.0 Conference

Stew Friedman will be presenting more insight at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 16. Register now to join him there and learn more about how sales leaders can achieve greater levels of success in all areas of life.

In his book, Leading the Life You Want, Stew Friedman delves into the characteristics of successful people, including Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, and Bruce Springstein. Friedman, who is also the founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program and Wharton’s Work/Life Integration Project, has observed that super successful people have two things in common.

  • They are highly aware of the people and things that matter most in their lives.
  • They make compromises while staying true to themselves.

According to Friedman, these folks “help us see how we can cultivate a life in which our own values and social contributions work in harmony — not necessarily every minute of every day, but consistently over the course of time.”

Here are three things sales leaders can learn from super successful people.

1) Follow your own path — no matter what.

This sounds easy, but think about the different ways we’re pressured to conform and fit it. From the way we dress, to what we eat, to how we behave at the office, conformity abounds. Know what direction your own inner compass is pointing in, says Friedman, and follow it.

2) Apply your skills holistically.

Most of us have parts of us we express only at work, or, conversely, only in our personal life. The most successful people have found ways to integrate their dominant traits and use them holistically, no matter what environment they’re in.

In his book, Friedman points to Eric Greitens, the former CEO of The Mission Continues, as an example.

Greitens’ story is captivating because, as film director J.J. Abrams told me, Greitens is a man in whom ‘form and function are one.’ All the human capital he has amassed is applied in his efforts to achieve current aims. For example: Greitens used the attitude and skills he has acquired as a boxer (in the domain of his private self) in his career as a military officer (his profession). Inspired by his grandfather’s stories, Greitens studied boxing with men who understood that the game was as much about physical training for technical excellence as it was about developing the psychological tools for winning combat. From boxing, Greitens learned that preparation is all, that one can and must remain calm in the face of fear, and that one should fight honorably.

3) Be open to change.

From product design to sales process, most sales leaders are always pushing for more innovation in their organizations. This can be difficult, as change is disruptive, and most of us rely on routine to stay balanced. But sometimes routines can turn into ruts and get in the way of progress and growth.

If you’re avoiding an innovation because your current schedule or routine doesn’t allow for it, find a way around it. Sometimes this can mean asking other people for help or delegating some of your responsibilities.

Join us in Philadelphia on March 16 and learn more from Stew Friedman on how to lead the life you want and become more successful.

Sales 2.0 Conference

[Image via Flickr / Rick Harrison]

Posted in Conference Speakers, Sales 2.0 Conference | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Will You Learn as a Sales Leader in 2015?

sales leader B2B learn As we prepare to ring in the New Year, many sales leaders we know naturally start thinking about their goals for becoming better, faster, and smarter.

We help sales leaders think about this kind of thing all year-round. That’s why we’re pleased to announce that we’ve already booked a date and time for the first Sales 2.0 Conference in 2015. The event will be in Philadelphia on March 16 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. We’ve asked our speakers to prepare presentations that fit the theme of “Build a Better Sales Organization.” Here are some of the topics they’ll address:

How to Tackle the Four Megatrends Upending Sales

People, Process, and Technology: Upgrading Your Sales Teams as Fast as Technology

Why Rejection is Awesome

Sales Performance Management: Why Front-Line Sales Leaders Truly Fill the Most Important Role in the Organization

(Read more about each presentation in our conference agenda.)

We’re very pleased about our line up of speakers and are confident each one will bring invaluable insight that many sales leaders would not otherwise be exposed to. Here’s a little bit more about each one of them.

Stewart Friedman
Director, Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
@StewFriedman
Since 1984 Stew Friedman has been teaching at Wharton, where he is the Practice Professor of Management.

Gerhard Gschwandtner
Founder & CEO, Selling Power
@gerhard20

Gerhard Gschwandtner is Founder and CEO of Selling Power, Inc., a multi-channel media  company that produces Selling Power magazine.

Alice Heiman
 Founder & Chief Sales Officer, Alice Heiman, LLC
@aliceheiman
Alice Heiman will be our emcee and chief networking officer for Sales 2.0 in Philadelphia. Alice  has been helping companies increase sales since 1994.

Kevin Higgins
CEO, Fusion Learning
Kevin Higgins is CEO of Fusion Learning, a world-class sales training organization.

 

Jia Jiang
Author of Rejection Proof and Founder, FearBuster
@jiajiang
Jia Jiang is the founder of FearBuster, a keynote speaker and author of the book Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection.

Jeff Perkins
Vice President, Global Online Marketing, PGi
@jeffperkins8
Jeff Perkins is the Vice President of Global Online Marketing at PGi (NYSE: PGI), a leading global provider of innovative audio and web conferencing solutions.

Jeff Seeley
CEO, Carew International
Jeff Seeley is Chief Executive Officer of Carew International, a leading sales training and leadership development provider.

Jennifer Stanley, Expert Associate Principal, McKinsey and Company
@JenStanley3
Jennifer is an Expert Associate Principal in McKinsey and Company’s Marketing and Sales Practice where she specializes in B2B issues across a range of companies, with a deep focus in basic materials and complex industrial value chains.

Kevin Starner, Vice President, Sales Enablement, Iron Mountain
@kevinstarner
Kevin Starner is a competitive sales professional with a passion for leading and developing people.

 

Register now to join these folks and many more at the Sales 2.0 Conference this March (if you act before December 30 you will save $280). In the meantime, happy selling and Happy New Year to all!

HeaderPhiladelphia2015_blog

[Image via Flickr / Jason Bache]

Posted in #s20c, Conference Sessions, Conference Speakers, Sales 2.0 Conference, Sales Leadership | Tagged , | 1 Comment

“Be Human” (5 Social Selling Tips from the Sales 2.0 Conference)

Thanks to our social media sponsor, EndeavorCPQ, for putting together this recap featuring the best tips for social selling that emerged during the Sales 2.0 Conference in Las Vegas last month!

Posted in #s20c, Conference Sessions, Sales & Technology, Social Media | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Three Mind-Bending Stats about Sales from Xactly

It’s no secret that Xactly, provider of sales-compensation automation solutions,  is a data-driven company. In fact, over the past nine years, Xactly has collected data on 700 customers and 16,000 comp-plan designs (totaling $15 billion in payouts!) and rolled up that data into a report called Xactly Insights.

Xactly Insights

 

 

At the Sales 2.0 Conference in Las Vegas on September 18, Xactly CMO and EVP Scott Broomfield shared three intriguing pieces of data.

ONE: In companies where sales reps are hitting quota, turnover is higher than at companies where not many salespeople are hitting quota. Why is this so? Because the former are more proactive about filtering out bottom performers.

Xactly Insights

TWO: Women in sales are more likely to achieve quota (70 percent) than men (67 percent), yet women are, on average, paid less in base salary and commissions than men.

Xactly Insights women in sales earnings

THREE: The higher a company’s Glassdoor rating, the higher the percentage of sales reps who have one year or more of tenure with the company.

Xactly Insights Glassdoor rating

Broomfied also spoke at length about the intersection between sales and marketing teams and observed that the traditional “handoff” is a point of divergence. To illustrate this, he acknowledged that some attendees in the room were probably checking their smartphones or busy on their laptops while he was speaking.

“But there’s nothing wrong with that,” Broomfield said. “Why? Because some of you are getting the information you need from other sources or other places, or you’re prioritizing other things for some reason, and you’re just not receptive to my message right now.”

Broomfield says that this is exactly the mind-set that sales and marketing teams today need to adopt. Not everyone is tuning in to your message. Some people will never be tuned in to your message. Others would be happy to tune in, but they currently have other priorities. Still others are open and receptive in this moment. With predictive analytics, Broomfield says that it’s possible to identify those customers who are

  • currently receptive,
  • not receptive now but will potentially be later,
  • not receptive and will never be.

“You can’t blast generic messaging anymore,” Broomfield said. “You need to target the right person at the right time in the right way.”

For more information on Xactly, visit https://www.xactlycorp.com/

Posted in Conference Sessions, Conference Speakers, Motivation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Your Reps to Sell with Insights

selling with insights sales reps

Today, the pressure is on for salespeople to “sell with insight.” But what does that mean?

At the Sales 2.0 Conference in Las Vegas on September 18, Richardson CEO David DiStefano defined “insight selling.” As he explained, insight is “information or a perspective” that

  1. is based on credible research or relevant experience,
  2. is personalized to the buyer,
  3. opens the buyer’s mind,
  4. creates urgency and causes the buyer to act.

How many sales teams today successfully sell with insight? DiStefano said the numbers do not look good:

  • Only 1 in 10 executives report getting value from meetings with salespeople. (Forrester research)
  • Only 17 percent of executives grant a second meeting to a salesperson. (Forrester research)

Clearly, these numbers indicate that customers feel they are not receiving enough value from their interactions with salespeople. By contrast, someone who sells with insight will have productive initial meetings with customers and be invited back. The insightful seller will hear customers say,

“I never thought about it that way.”

“Tell me more.”

“You know, I hadn’t considered the risk of NOT doing that.”

“My boss was just talking about this the other day.”

These are all promising statements indicating that buyers’ minds are being opened and they’re receptive to hearing more (or, even better, actively taking next steps). But there is an inherent risk to selling with insight, and DiStefano said that many sales leaders are afraid their salespeople will fall flat on their faces (according to Richardson data, 70 percent of US executives are concerned that their salespeople lack the skills necessary to sell with insight). Here are three things that salespeople should keep in mind when selling with insight.

  • Don’t use statistics that “smell funny.” If your data comes from a study you sponsored, for example, buyers will probably be skeptical.
  • Don’t use numbers that are stale, outdated, or overused. You don’t want to hear your prospect say, “That’s an old number. New data actually suggests XYZ,” or “Your competitor was in my office yesterday and quoted the same number.”
  • If you’re referencing relevant experience (for example, customer case studies or informal information based on conversations you’ve had with other executives), watch for holes where the prospect might not see that relevance. For example, you don’t want to hear, “Well, that worked for that particular industry, but our industry is nothing like that.”

DiStefano stressed that sales leaders cannot expect salespeople to make a quick switch to insight selling. “We know the buyers have more power and more knowledge and engage us later in the sales cycle,” said DiStefano. “That is a significant challenge, and the switch to selling with insights is not something that just happens. You can’t just tell salespeople, ‘Go do this,’ and expect them to do it differently.”

To learn more about insight selling, visit http://www.richardson.com/What-We-Do/Learning-Solutions/Generate-Opportunities/Richardsons-Selling-with-Insights/.

[Image via Flickr / 드림포유]

 

Posted in Collaboration | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment