Creating a great proposal or quote for your product is a crucial part of the sales process and a huge key to increasing profitability for your small- to medium-sized business (SMB). Your proposal needs to be clear, concise and customized to your company and your customer base.
The key to creating a great proposal when you’re a SMB is using the right tools that will make the process simple but quick. But there are so many options for quoting and proposal platforms out there. How do you choose?
Let’s take a look at the four best automated quote and proposal software features for SMBs: real-time pricebook and inventory, customizable templates, integrations and, finally, the ease of continuing the sales and service process.
Real-Time Pricebook and Inventory Management
In order to start building a proposal you have to know the cost and availability of the products and services you need to include. And you can’t waste your precious time (you’re busy, we get it) on putting together a quote that is outdated as soon as you send it.
Can you imagine having to tell a customer that the quote has gone up? Or, even worse, building a quote that won’t even cover the true costs?
That’s why the first of the four best features for streamlining and automating your proposals is access to a real-time pricebook like Etilize and inventory management. With these tools you can find the most up-to-date cost of the products you need to buy from top vendors and the available quantities and locations of the items you already have in your inventory.
Bonus: With a real-time pricebook, you have the ability to tie the cost of labor to individual items so that when you add that product to any proposal in the future, the labor is automatically included. That alone is a HUGE time-saver.
A Deep Dive into Automated Inventory Management
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If you’re like a lot of SMBs, you and your team are wasting a ton of time manually updating an Excel or Word document that has your stretched-out, distorted logo awkwardly placed on it for every new proposal. (Dude, not cool.) This is not only a surefire way to bog down the sales process but also a recipe for inaccurate quotes.
To land a sale, you need to look like you have your shit together and you know what you’re doing. Nobody wants to hire an IT, security or A/V company with a proposal that looks like it was created in Microsoft Paint. Your company offers unique services, and your proposals should reflect that expertise, which is why another must-have feature in a proposal software is the ability to automatically generate clean, professional documents.
The key to creating high-level proposals and quotes both quickly and accurately is to use customizable templates. Templates take a little time on the front end to set up. But after that, you have a quick, easy way to not only reflect your company’s brand and quality of services but also provide concise and straightforward line items to your potential customer.
Bonus: Some platforms even give you the option to include photos of pricebook items on your proposal by simply checking a box. Your customers can see exactly what they’re getting. How great is that?!
No one knows your business like you do. When it comes to building quotes and proposals, you most likely have unique needs and some software platforms that you just can’t live without.
For your accounting department, that's probably QuickBooks. For your project managers, it could be a digital mapping estimation software like Esticom. Or, maybe your purchasing team can’t do without access to Ingram Micro.
A top feature of your proposal and quoting software is that it shouldn’t make you break up with your favorite solutions. Instead, it should integrate with them to enhance the way you sell your product and make the proposal process more streamlined and customized to the way your company operates.
One of the best examples of this is an electronic-signature program, such as DocuSign, that allows your sales team to quickly capture legally binding approval in writing and close deals faster. (Isn’t that the dream?)
Bonus: You’re not always going to be at your desk to prepare a proposal. The option to use an app on your phone or tablet, or a web portal, to quote in the field will keep the sales process humming.
Continuing the Sales and Service Process
Great news: The sale went through!
But you can’t celebrate just yet (put the champagne down!). Now you’ve got to follow through and deliver on your proposal.
The best software for proposals and quotes offers the ability to get right to work by automatically:
- Converting the proposal directly into a service order so dispatch can schedule a technician.
- Creating a project to be mapped out and tasks assigned.
- Generating a purchase order of all the line items not already in your inventory.
- Updating your inventory levels to reflect the line items in your warehouse.
- Sending an alert to accounting to notify them of a new sale or invoice request.
- Adding the new sale to revenue reports for management.
The ability to seamlessly continue the sales and service process is not just a great feature — it’s the best one. An all-in-one business automation platform like a PSA software or ERP platform removes the need to jump back and forth between products or invest in expensive add-ons.
Bonus: Many all-in-one solutions offer customer portals that make everything from service order requests to new quotes and proposal available to your customers 24/7. These portals make it super easy for your customers to sign a prepared proposal at their convenience and trigger an automatic alert to let you know that it's ready.
Want some more help finding a proposal and quoting software that offers all four best features in one single solution? Download our PSA Checklist for Technology Service SMBs and get started today!