Sales isn’t an easy job. It’s high-burnout, high-stress, and sometimes it can take a long time to close a deal. When your reps are tasked with the added burden of having to write a proposal, the sales process can stretch on even longer.
Fortunately, there is a way to speed up the sales process and help your reps meet their quotas: sales automation. According to SalesForce’s latest State of Sales report, top-performing sales organizations use automation. Specifically, 65% of sales organizations reported that using automated proposal-generating tools to help ease the burden on reps helped them close more deals. Despite this fact, just over half of sales teams say they are using automation in their sales process at all.
What is RFP automation?
RFP automation is the use of technology to automate certain parts of the proposal creation process. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, RFP automation software is able to put together a basic proposal that a rep can then tailor to a prospect’s specific needs.
By automating certain parts of the process, a sales rep can save time and concentrate their effort on the pieces of the sales process that require the most time, energy and creativity, like interacting with customers.
5 ways RFP automation can speed up your sales process
- Automation frees up salespeople to sell: How much time do your sales reps actually spend selling? One oft-quoted study finds that salespeople tend to only spend 37% of their time on actual sales activities like talking to customers, setting meetings, and working on proposals. The rest of the time is spent on repetitive administrative tasks, like taking notes, paperwork, and other items that can be better performed by a non-sales staffer or by sales enablement software. This wasted time isn’t necessarily the sales team’s fault; if they don’t have the tools to automate repetitive tasks, those tasks will have to be done by sales reps. By investing in RFP automation, you can get bid-related tasks off the sales team’s plate and get them back into sales-related activities.
- RFP automation helps the reluctant writer: The average sales rep is a people person with great communication skills and a strong desire to help their customers. Your sales staff probably got into sales because they’re great at talking to people, not good at writing. So it stands to reason that for some sales reps, being faced with an RFP can be frightening — and can take a long time. Yet, if they want to close that big deal, they need to put together a bid, and if your organization doesn’t have a dedicated proposal team, that RFP response will fall right into your sales reps’ lap. RFP automation can take the first pass on putting together a proposal. That means the burden of writing is removed from the salesperson’s shoulders, and a draft can be generated quickly.
- A central library of content helps educate salespeople: One of the biggest issues for buyers, according to LinkedIn’s most recent State of Sales report, is a poorly-informed sales rep. The report found that 48% of buyers were turned off by a sales rep who offered incorrect or misleading information about their product or service, and 43% were turned off by a rep who doesn’t seem to understand their own product or service. RFP automation that offers an updated library of information about a product can help reps stay on top of this information, so that they always have the newest and best sales content at their fingertips.
- A content library helps avoid duplicating work: If your sales team doesn’t have a single library of sales content, you may end up with more than one rep working on the same deal. This can happen when your team is working across a patchwork of solutions, like CRMs, cloud workspaces, and email. Redundant work costs money and time, and can also cause bad feelings between reps who feel they’re fighting for leads. A content library that’s shared by all can help everyone see what’s being done, and by whom.
- Automation helps to build trust in your reps: Buyers want to trust your salespeople. LinkedIn found that 89% of buyers describe the salespeople they ultimately do business with as “trusted advisors.” They want to see your reps as experts when it comes to your products and their problems. RFP automation helps your reps become experts by collecting all the best, most up-to-date sales content in one place. Rather than digging through email and finding old answers to questions from the product team, or trying to reach an SME to answer a question for a potential buyer, your sales team can simply search the content library for the information they need.
Automation gets your sales team back to their job: selling
Sometimes organizations get nervous when they see the word automation. They may worry about automating people out of jobs, but that’s not what sales automation means.
You can’t ever automate the work of a good sales rep — they’re the friendly expert who connects with your customers on a personal level. RFP Automation takes care of some of the more time consuming tasks so your reps can do what they’re good at: sell.
Ombud, for example, automates content-centric activities in your team’s sales processes. Our platform combines content collaboration, project management, and machine learning to streamline the creation of sales documents like RFP responses, security questionnaires, sales proposals, statements of work, and much more. Interested in learning more about Ombud’s RFP software? Request a demo here.