When most professional service companies reach 7-10 employees mark and have been operating for at least 5 years, they usually start looking for ways to grow their sales pipeline. At this point, small businesses start looking for larger contracts in both the private and public sector.  Larger contracts in the private sector generally come with a different set of problems such as a longer sales cycle and more decision makers involved in the procurement phase.  Public sector pursuits usually involve a strategy of achieving necessary qualifications and certifications as well as continual submittals and a “paying dues” mentality.  No matter what type of project or contract your company pursues, your company needs to have a solid process in place when identifying and pursuing new work before you submit a proposal.

3 Tips for Increasing Sales

1.  Don’t chase everything.

Not every opportunity is worth pursuing.  Eliminating opportunities quickly that don’t meet your primary business objectives is a great way to help increase sales.  If you don’t have a solid go-no-go process in place, you may want to take the time to create one.

2.  Ask good questions.

With just a few questions, you can clarify if specific opportunities are worth your company’s time and resource investment.

  • Do you have a budget? – Many times you can eliminate if an opportunity is worth your time based on the budget.  Remember, there is always a cost to pursue any new opportunity, if the contract amount is too small, you’re actually losing money on the deal before you even win the contract.  Or, if a contract is twice the size of any project you have ever done, you may want to make sure you have appropriate resources on standby to staff the project appropriately.
  • Are you working with anyone else right now? – Sometimes, businesses like to price check by getting firms to respond to an RFP one of your competitors has helped create.  Make sure that you’re not wasting your time and efforts by helping your competitor gain more useful information on your business and pricing models.  By asking the question, you are at least attempting to protect yourself
  • Do you have a deadline? – This can help you determine where a company is in their sales cycle and help you appropriately plan your strategy in working with this client.
  • Who in your team is responsible for the final decision? – Make sure you know who ultimately has the final decision making power in the procurement process, you don’t want to submit a proposal only to find out that the person you’re submitting a proposal to doesn’t have the ultimate say in the process.

3.  Set SMART Goals.

Your sales pipeline goals don’t necessarily need to be revenue driven.  Setting goals to increase the number of leads you receive as well as increasing the channels you receive leads through, can be great tools to increase your sales pipeline.  Creating SMART goals are a great way to hold your team accountable as well.  Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Summary

Sometimes the best way to increase your sales is to consistently make smarter decisions on what you decide to chase and what you decide not to.  By following a solid go-no-go process, asking specific questions, and setting SMART goals, you are well on your way to growing your sales pipeline and your business.

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Creating Balance During the Proposal Pursuit

Creating Balance in the Proposal Process
The idea of work-life balance has gained a lot of popularity in recent years as millennials have entered the workplace. Working a 9 to 5 and then going home and turning off work is getting harder thanks to mobile connectivity.  Instead of looking at work and life as two separate places, what happens when we start examining them as intertwined pattern woven together.  Each strand has a different color, a different meaning, but when woven together, produces a beautiful pattern.  When our work-life balance is working, this pattern is really nice to look at.  When it’s well…we usually start looking for another job but we don’t really ever think about what went wrong in the process.
As a manager, if you can extend your empathy out and start focusing on creating a family environment in the office, you’ll find the benefits rewarding.  This attitude will help you as a manager start to feel less stress because you’re not trying to compartmentalize people and things and instead, viewing them as an organic extension of your mission and values.
Here are three ideas for a more balanced workplace:
  1. Trust as a foundation.  Establishing trust as a major element of your team is key to getting the most out of employees in your organization.  What you can see in a lot of organizations are elements for creating distrust. Although time sheets are required for billing, and open floor plans are more efficient, your employees may feel like they’re constantly being watched.  Although some of these tools and strategies may be operational necessities, creating ways to make a workplace feel like a place of trust are even more important than ever.
  2. Failure is okay.  Not only should failures (big and small) be okay, but the lessons learned should be rewarded.  If your team is pushing limits to their creativity, there are bound to be some failures along the way.  At Facebook, “Fail Faster,” was a key mantra.  The faster the Facebook team failed, the quicker they got to the right solution.  The main point being, once your team gets over the fear of failure, solutions and success come faster.
  3. Have a framework to work through disagreements.  In many organizations, the fear of conflict can paralyze progress.  As a team, it’s important to have a framework for working through problems so these issues don’t fester and create blocks in your team’s productivity.

Working and winning projects can be an intense process.  Long hours and tight deadlines can really create a lot of drama for proposal teams.  In order to keep the team working well, a deep foundation of trust, openness to failures, and a framework to work through disagreements are all key to making sure a team survives all of the bumps in the road.  Contact us for more help with training your proposal team.