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Building Winning Sales Documents: The 3P's Strategy That Drives Wins

Procurement processes have taken on a far more strategic and important role in many organizations in the last two years. In the past, procurement tended to be focused on getting the best deal at the lowest price while maintaining compliance. But with major pandemic-driven supply chain disruptions, the procurement process has become less transactional and more focused on strategic objectives, such as resilience, sustainability, and mitigation of disruptions and risk.

Plus, as with many other areas of business, procurement has seen a big acceleration in digital transformation. Businesses everywhere have had to figure out new, more effective ways of working. On the procurement front, a greater need for visibility and transparency, data-driven decision making, and automation has also emerged.

With these shifts in how buyers evaluate and select vendors, companies need to adapt their sales response strategy to streamline and simplify the procurement process for prospects. We’ve found our clients are most successful when they implement the 3Ps Strategy: Preparation, Process, and Personalization.

Win big with the 3Ps Framework

The secret to sales proposals and RFx responses that consistently win business can be summed up by the 3 Ps: Preparation, Process, and Personalization. Let’s take a look at each ‘P’ and examine some practical tactics you can implement to make the 3P Strategy work for you.

  1. Preparation
    Preparation is all about getting your team ready to win more business. You need to be prepared to create your own opportunities with proactive sales proposals and brilliant sales decks and to seize opportunities when clients come knocking requesting proposals, information, or pricing.

    Before the actual writing and production of proposals and RFx responses, you’ll want to:
    1. Increase efficiency to drive faster turnaround times

      • Set up re-usable knowledge libraries stocked with ready to re-use content.
      • Optimize the way content is stored and categorized to help teams access and find content easily and quickly.
      • Set up Q&A libraries that use AI to automatically search for answers to questions in vendor questionnaires, eliminating the need to search manually.
    2. Build capacity to handle more RFPs and sales proposals

      • Form tactical teams around each major knowledge domain (e.g., security response team, professional services response team).
      • Build in redundancy wherever possible to ensure there’s always at least one SME in the group available to respond and review RFP responses.
    3. Improve quality to boost win rates
      • Conduct a retrospective with the team after each RFP or proposal submission to learn what they thought went well and what didn’t.
      • Incorporate updates and feedback from SMEs into re-usable content; implement a formal review and approval process that all content must pass through on a regular basis (e.g., every six months) to ensure it’s fresh and up-to-date.
      • Use tools that can help you understand what’s working and what’s not (e.g., measure how prospective clients are engaging with your proposals or which pieces of content are being used in deals you’re winning).
  1. Process
    The second ‘P’ focuses on the process of how everything comes together to produce killer sales documents. The goal is to optimize the sales response process to produce high-quality sales proposals and RFx responses that close deals, even in the face of tight deadlines and stiff competition. To succeed in this effort, you’ll need:

    1. An effective collaboration plan—everyone knows what to do, where, and by when

      • Activate your tactical teams as early as possible in the process to ensure that each knowledge domain has at least one SME available to assist.
      • Clearly articulate what is expected and by when.
      • Create clear writing and review assignments, with due dates (plus buffer) attached to each one.
      • Use authoring tools that make it possible for more than one person to work on the same document at the same time, while maintaining tight version control and preventing co-authoring conflicts.
    2. Visibility and accountability across all work in progress to stay on top of deadlines

      • Track overall response completeness and team progress either manually with Excel or via specialized automated tool (recommended).
      • Schedule regular check-ins with the core RFP response team (which can include key SMEs).
      • Use digital tools like Microsoft Teams to post RFP response updates for the team in between check-ins.
    3. Tools that make it possible to produce documents that are both visually compelling and easy to navigate
      • Leverage easy-to-use branded templates that are visually engaging.
      • Choose proposal automation software that allows you to work directly in Microsoft Word to simplify the formatting process.
  1. Personalization

    Personalization is the ace up your sleeve for a buoyant win rate. No longer solely a B2C marketing function, personalization is vital for meeting B2B buyer expectations. In a 2020 DemandGen report examining B2B buyer behavior, 76% of respondents said they expected more personalized attention from providers based on their specific needs. Similarly, Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report reveals that 72% of business buyers expect vendors to personalize engagement, with 84% of B2B buyers more likely to buy from sales reps that understand their goals.

    When you personalize sales documents, you’re really telling your client: “We understand you. And because we understand you, we know what you need, and we know how to solve your pain points. And because we empathize with you, you can trust us to have your back and put you first.” Personalization makes your proposal more credible, helps you earn the coveted “Trusted Advisor” status, and makes life easier for buyers and evaluators.

    The challenge to personalizing sales documents is that it’s time-consuming and you’re typically up against a deadline and pressed for time. The trick is to spread out the personalization burden, beginning during the Preparation phase:

    1. Automate basic personalization tasks (Preparation phase)

      • Build automation into beautifully designed templates and content, e.g., merging the right customer’s name in all the right places in the sales document.
    2. Visibility and accountability across all work in progress to stay on top of deadlines

      • Use automation to recommend the right content to use based on the sales opportunity information, e.g., If the client is interested in Product A, belongs to Industry B, and is based in Country C, teams will have content for Product A, Industry B, and Country C at their fingertips, eliminating the time-consuming hunts for content.
    3. Strategically shape sales documents to reflect understanding of their needs (Process phase)
      • Use the same language as your client
      • Make your level of compliance clear when you address requirements
      • Use headlines and write for scalability
      • Make sure you address each RFx requirement, but through the lens of the client
      • Ghost the competition. Highlight competitors’ weaknesses as they relate to clients’ specific requirements without mentioning them by name, e.g., if you know it takes the competition two weeks to deliver what you can in two days—and turnaround time is important for that client—you can say, “Don’t wait two weeks; we guarantee delivery in two days.”
    1. Re-use your team’s hard work by saving shaped content and expert contributions (Preparation phase)
      • Save shaped content from proposals or RFP responses to repurpose for other customers with a similar profile
      • Repeat as a best practice in between each proposal and RFx response to further reduce personalization effort required during the Process phase

Where does technology fit in?

While not all elements of the 3Ps Framework require specialized tools, proposal automation software is essential if you want to take advantage of:

  • Automation that drastically speeds up basic personalization

  • AI-capabilities that get you to draft in seconds on RFx responses

  • Data and built-in measurement tools to help you improve over time

  • Streamlined collaboration functionality that eliminates email chaos, keeps people accountable, and provides visibility

  • Better organized knowledge libraries that are kept fresh with regular ‘review and approve’ cycles

Proposal management software helps you prepare, process, and personalize proposals and RFx responses more efficiently, while ensuring higher quality documents that keep pace with modern procurement practices and, ultimately, close more deals.

To dig deeper into how to use the 3Ps Strategy—Preparation, Process, and Personalization—to build killer sales documents and intelligent RFP responses that positively impact your bottom line, watch the replay of our recent webinar with proposal expert, Olivia Hardy, from Catalytique Consulting.

Published by Jennifer Tomlinson May 10, 2022
Jennifer Tomlinson