Are your deals getting stuck in the proposal stage more often than not? If so, it’s not a rep problem. It’s a process problem. Stalled deals are usually a result of placing too much emphasis on optimizing the top-of-the-funnel at the expense of the bottom. Adding insult to injury, that imbalance means all that time and money it takes to get prospects to the closing phase goes to waste.
But like all other aspects of sales, closing is a process and it too can be optimized. Let’s assume your top-of-funnel is running smoothly, your reps are working good deals with qualified prospects, but deals are still getting stuck. Here are three ways your sales team can revamp the closing phase of the sales cycle to help maintain deal momentum.
Optimize the Deliverable
The first solution to the stalled proposal problem is arguably the simplest – fix your deliverables. Ask yourself these simple questions:
- What is the sales rep sending out?
- Are there gaps in your sales ops activities that may contribute to your deals getting stuck?
We don’t mean getting stuck in the metaphorical pipeline. We mean literally stuck in the spam folder. Radio silence from your prospects at the close stage could be caused by the fact that they haven’t seen the documents your rep sent. To address this, you need to look at what reps are sending, how it is sent, and then optimize it for deliverability.
First, the “how”. If you’re emailing links, make sure they’re good links. Links in emails can set off spam filters. If your reps send emails linking to an online proposal document, make sure they are considered safe links from reputable domains. Or if they are linking to a Google Doc/Sheet/Slide make sure the permissions are set to share outside the organization, if not this can create issues.
Next, if you’re attaching docs to an email, check the file size. If your closing docs are formatted as Word, PDF, PowerPoint, or Excel files and attached to an email, make sure the size of these documents is manageable. If they are too big they’ll land in your recipient’s spam folder and not their inbox, if they send at all.
This leads us to the “what”. One potential workaround to the file size issue is to send a smaller file. You’re probably thinking about a text-based, black and white document. But if you actually want to close deals, don’t do that. Instead, do these two things:
- Compress your files – Preserve the compelling aspects of your reps’ closing documents by compressing them into a smaller size so they don’t get flagged.
- Use a Proposal Management Software – These types of softwares allow you to build your proposals online, so file size isn’t a factor. The links to the documents are also associated with your domain, so your prospect’s email server treats the link the same as it would a link to your website. So, you won’t have to worry about their email inbox flagging your important documents as spam.
Check your Metrics
How long does it typically take a prospect to open your proposals? Minutes? Hours? Days? How many times was your proposal opened and reviewed? 4, 5, or maybe 6 times? It’s critical for you to figure out these numbers and use them as baseline metrics. Once you know these numbers, it’s much easier to see the warning signs when a deal isn’t doing so hot.
The average time between your documents being received and the time they are opened is about three days or less. Anything more than that is a big red flag, which means it’s time to check in with your prospect. But what if the opposite happens and there’s too much activity on your proposals? It may seem like a good problem to have, but unexpected activity on your proposal isn’t always a good thing. The average winning proposal is opened 2 times before it’s marked closed-won. That means if your proposals are getting opened again and again, or opened by stakeholders you didn’t expect to be involved, something may not be right.
With this information in mind you can set up a few automated actions to help a deal move forward. You can:
- Set up an automatic, friendly reminder email to your prospect if they haven’t opened the proposal within a set timeframe.
- Set up a reminder for your rep or yourself to have a follow-up call with the client to check progress.
Engage New Stakeholders
Who are your reps sending proposals to? Are they sending directly to the decision-maker? Or to a champion who will forward it to the decision-maker or a committee? Sending out proposals to one individual that’s part of a larger decision making party, almost guarantees that a deal is going to get stuck. That means your rep needs to get other people who might care about the deal involved.
This is crucial because it will determine which playbook you use. If your reps have the decision-makers actively involved, that closing cadence is more straightforward. If these decision makers aren’t involved and instead a single champion is, then you’ll need to add a couple of extra steps:
- Make sure the proposal is written for the decision-maker, not the champion.
- If you have their contact info, copy the decision-maker into the proposal email when you send it to their champion.
- Leverage video software tools. Ideally, reps will have a meeting with decision-makers to discuss the proposal. The second best option is sending a 1:1 video tailored to each of the decision-makers to walk them through the proposal.
Wrapping it Up
Proposals are often neglected in sales for no good reason. They’re not the same as an order form or a contract. They bring a ton of value to your sales process and are a key tool for closing deals. Modern sales teams understand this and it’s up to them to identify why deals are getting stuck and to implement a fix. If you continue to ignore systemic issues at the bottom of the funnel, don’t act surprised the next time your sales team misses quota.
If you’re looking for a way to close more deals and move your business forward give ebs/Growth a call today or fill out our contact form here.