Ask an Expert: How sales teams can reduce RFP response time by 50% and close deals faster

Crafting complex sales proposals and request for proposal (RFP) responses is a critical but complicated, error-prone, and often time-consuming step in winning the deal. Sales teams need to ensure consistency across quotes, pricing integrity, and, of course, the speed of producing quotes and sales proposals. Does that mean companies should try something new?

We asked Martin Spritzer, General Manager at iQuoteXpress, to share his extensive experience in CPQ automation and best practices for creating sales proposals that cinch deals.

How can sales teams optimize their RFP response process to keep the focus on closing?

To start off, you can follow these steps:

1. Review the RFP's requirements: ensure you’re both the right fit (product- and service-wise) and that you have the resources and bandwidth to address these requirements.

2. Create a sales proposal in your CPQ system that immediately addresses the content of the RFP: from the cover page to the close, make sure that the prospect sees their exact needs reflected back at them.

3. Send/track/follow-up: every customer has different preferences for follow-ups. Some need a lot, some don't want to be bothered at all. If you’re not using CPQ to send and track each quote with every comment, revision, etc. attached, you may miss key details that would improve closing rates.

4. Optimize: after each sale (and loss, too), compare the content, process, and people involved and roll out the knowledge gained to other reps. CPQ makes it easy by keeping all quotes and quote data in one system.

Whether you are new to sales or have years of experience, automating proposal creation can increase your close rates. We believe that the proper steps in any and all RFP responses should be in place long before you get an RFP. An early response often lands the customer. The challenge for many companies is that in their pursuit to send an RFP response quickly, things can get messy and delayed.

Some people think of CPQ as essentially RFP response templates. Does it do more than that?

Oh, absolutely. At its core, every CPQ system should have an engine for automatic configuration of products and pricing, one that’s centrally administered and dynamically optimized. In fact, that’s essentially where the name CPQ comes from: configure, price, quote.

Also, let’s not forget tracking! Where most traditional CRM systems don’t track more than “quote sent” and “quote signed” (or, if the quote doesn’t get signed, “opportunity lost”), a CPQ system tracks every update in the signing process, including replies, modifications to product/pricing configurations, and stalled signatures. This gives sales teams the insights into the critical stages that take a customer from “send me a quote” to “let’s do business.”

Why do you stress on single sign-on? 

Even though having CPQ available via a tab or main navigation does make a CRM look great, the main reason is that it increases the adoption of CPQ as part of a rep’s everyday process.

Just as vitally, CPQ can actually increase the usage of a CRM as a whole. This won't surprise any sales manager, but the truth is that most reps don’t always do the best job of using the tools provided in CRM. Sometimes, they’ll go days without even going into the system.

But when you make the sales proposal process part of the CRM, they have to go into the system because no matter what else they may have going on, they’re going to be checking on their quotes—that’s where the money is! And the more they’re in CRM, the better.

Can you highlight some notable examples of how iQuoteXpress for Zoho CRM has helped sales teams automate CPQ? What was the business impact?

We have many. Notably, there is a manufacturing company that's a Zoho customer. In the time they've been using Zoho they've gone from "a humble startup to one of Australia’s best suppliers in education furniture.”

We extended their Zoho CRM with iQuoteXpress, and the results were off the hook:

  • Quotation time was reduced by over 50%

  • Quote errors were reduced by over 95%

  • Onboarding became over 50% faster

  • Reduced the time sales staff are sitting at their desks, meaning they are out on the road generating more business

A CPQ solution that can support this process for Zoho CRM users is iQuoteExpress. With the available integration, sales staff can make use of professionally designed templates and keep customer information updated easily.

Try iQuoteXpress for Zoho CRM

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