628: 5 Ways to Create the Perfect Business Proposal w/ Brandon Bruce

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Brandon Bruce, COO and Co-Founder at Cirrus Insight.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brandonbruce/

Want to expand the reach of yourcontent, start a podcast, feature industry experts on your show and leverage theinfluence and reach of your guests to grow your brand. Learn more at sweetfish Mediacom. You're listening to the be tob growth show, a podcast dedicatedto helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniquesand strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'mJames Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome backto the be to be growth show. Today we are joined by Brandon Bruce. Brandon is the CEO and Co founder at serious insight. He's also areturning guest to the B to be gross show, so we're thrilled to havethem here today. Brandon, welcome back to the show. Jonathan's great tobe back. And so, you know, a very, a very happy NewYear of very happy two thousand and eighteen to you. We are justdiscussing a little bit before we started recording about you know, how quickly twothousand and seventeen flew by and then and some of our plans and goals forfor the New Year. But for those who maybe didn't hear your previous episodeor just tuning in to join us on the be tob growth show, maybeyou can tell us a little about what you and your team at serious insightsare up to these days. Yeah, I think we're. We're very similar, I think, to the rest of your audience. We're hustling every dayjust like everybody listening. We make an application as SASS application called serious insight, at the plug in for Gmail and outlook that connects with sales force.So, going back six years ago, amazingly we were the first application onthe market to connect Gmail with sales force. There was a gap there and creditto my cofounder, Ryan Hath who developed the first version of serious insightto connect Gmail with sales force. And thankfully both of those companies, Googleand sales force, have done incredibly well. So we've been able to grow alongwith them and serve their customers. So today we've got a couple hundredthousand people that are using our application primarily to connect Gmail and outlook with salesforce, but also to get, you know, that suite of power toolsin the inbox to be more productive, save time, start more conversations withtheir customers. So everything from email templates, email tracking, drip campaigns for salesteams, the ability to schedule more meetings faster, and then now alsothe ability to track attachments and slide decks and proposals, and that's we're particularlyexcited about that going into the new year. Well, that's fantastic. Always Nicewhen you can pit your wagon to the right horse. So again,congratulations to the the continued success at serious insight and thank you for carving alittle bit of your a little time out today to join us on the show. I think you had just mentioned proposals and that's actually what we're going tobe talking about today on the show. We're going to be talking about sortof the the what, when, who,...

...how of proposals. It's something thateveryone has to do kind of knows about. We've never talked about thison the BB grows show and so I think it's going to be kind ofa fascinating and unique topic. So, Brandon, where we starting day?Well, if we're talking about proposal, where do you want to start talking? I guess, as Yogie Bearri said, we might as well started the beginning, which for me was last summer and so we as a company starteda trial of an application online called attached dot ioh and we thought, well, this could be a useful platform for sending out proposals, slide decks,contracts other sales and marketing collateral to our prospects and customers. So basically howit worked as we took our sales and marketing collaterally uploaded those pdas and powerpoints and word Docs and Google docs and Google sheets into their online platform andthen instead of taking those individual PDS and power points, etcetera, and loadingthem as normal attachments on to an email, instead you just grab a link andput the link in the email and that way, when we would sendit out, when our customers would click the link, we would get analert that said, hey, this customer has opened this proposal, and wewere really enthusiastic about the fact that it was real time. So once wegot that alert, we could actually log in to our dashboard, our consoleon Attachedt io, and we could watch the customer viewing the proposal in realtime. So we could say, okay, they just flipped a page number twoand now they're okay, now they're moving to page three. They're spendinga lot of time on that one because there's a diagram or something like that. Okay. And then, let's say if it was a ten page document, did they make it to the end? Did they abandon the document early,in which case we knew we needed to improve it, or when theyfinished, did they come back to it the next day or maybe the nextday after that, in which case we knew, okay, they're really revisitingthis, they're really in the tank thinking about doing business with us, andwe could follow up appropriately by email or calling them or scheduling a meeting.And we coul also then tell if they were sharing it to other people intheir company, because they might take that same link and forward the email tosome of their colleagues. And then when each member of their team went togo of you the document, they would need to say, yeah, Iwant to you this document. My name is brandon, here's my email address, and we would get an alert to say hey, another person on theirteam is doing the document. So we really enjoyed seeing that a the attachmenthad in fact been received, which with a normal email attachment you just don'tknow right you send it out in the wind. Did they notice there wasa touchment on the email. Were they able to open it? That theyget blocked by their bulk mail, or did they flag it because it's anattachment they're worried about, you know, malware or something like that? Sowe know that it got there, we know they opened it and then wecan actually see how they're engaging with it and we were excited about that becauseI feel like we spend a lot of time focusing on, you know,Lee Generation. Prospecting our applications here since of night really focuses on, youknow, how do you get those first meetings? How do you start thoseconversations? How do you follow up appropriately? But then when I got to theproposing time, we were still sending...

...out regular old attachments and with attachedotIoh we really liked it. We thought well, this is a better way. So fast forward to mid November during dream force, we completed our acquisitionof attach and so now we own that platform and we're on boarding a lotmore of our customers onto it and we're starting to combine that functionality into thecore serious insight platform. So, Long Story Short, we've been thinking alot over the last six months about proposals. Right. What are we doing withall these documents that we have, that we've created over the last severalyears? How do we make them better? How do we create new ones,and how does our team use it? How do we keep our whole salesteam on the same page so that one person's not sending out, youknow, the marketing deck from two years ago and someone else is sending outa proposal they handwrote and so forth? How do we keep everybody on thesame page? Yeah, well, and it you know, it's I meanit's fascinating that you were able to sort of, like you said, collectthis information kind of in real time and get some tremendous insight into the worldof you know, once we've once we've sent out a proposal, you knowwhat happens to it, who's checking it out, what was most valuable?Where can we tinker and improve the process? I mean it's almost kind of youknow, you maybe get into this mentality of well, I've done,I've sent whatever proposal we have. It's it's out of my hands or orit's a done deal or or whatever the mentality is, but there is stillsome fine tuning to be done. So where we talking about that today,but about the information that you were able to collect and sort of how it'sinformed. You know the best way to approach a new proposal. Let's starthere with the with point number one. What have you found is valuable toinclude and what maybe can you leave out? Yeah, it's a great question Ithink all of us grapple with. Hey do I do I put thisbig case study in there? You should it be this long? Should bethe short? Like what exactly should go in to the types of documents thatI'm sending out to my prospects and my customers? I think the answer firstoff is send them what they asked for. So if someone says I'd like tosee a couple case studies of some people in my industry, of aboutmy size, hopefully you have that or you can make something like that orgive them as close to that as they're asking for. I certainly wouldn't holdanything back. I think what the research out there that we've reviewed his showingis that certainly examples of other people having success are the most popular to sendand to receive. Customers like viewing those. I would say my personal wrinkle onthat is that it seems like frequently it's presented the same way every time. Some really big, wellknown company had tremendous, overwhelming success with our product, and so I've started to kind of glaze over a lot of those whenthey're sent to me from other vendors because I'm like well, yeah, butI'm not apple, I'm not dropbox. Right, I'm a small software company. So how does it work for someone of my size, with our numberof employees and the way we do business?...

So I do think it's very importantto send something that's relevant on as many levels as possible industry size.You know what they're asking for in their specific use case and, assuming thatyou have that, I would keep it pretty brief because it in my experience, and so far as we're sitting at proposals, the long ones, peoplewill tend to abandon. You know, all it takes is one slightly notinteresting slide and a fifty slide deck for the person to to abandon the wholething and leave. So for those types of case studies, you know,two pages, right, first big intro page presenting the problem and here's howwe solved it and move on. That way it's a quick hit. Youcan send it on its own, but even better we like to combine thatwith multiple other documents. So we might say hey, first here's the casestudy, but I've also included for your team some of our security information,which we know will be important to you because you're in a regulated industry.And then after that here's, you know, here's a quick network diagram and thenfollowing that, here's some screenshots of our application in action and you cansee how easy it's going to be for your users to use it, andthat's kind of a nice package that helps them to okay, here's two pageson that, but then I'm going to get to switch pages and look atsomething totally different that appeals to someone else in the company. We think italso increases the likelihood that they're going to share it. So they might besharing it and saying to the recipient, Hey, checkout page five. Youcan skip the security stuff because you're not in security, but you're in userexperience in sales. So check out page five and thereafter. So it increaseslikelihood'll get shared internally. Interesting. Yeah, that's great and I know you havesort of touched on this, but I don't know if there was anythingthat specifically you wanted to mention in terms of, you know, what toleave out? Is there something that you've seen time and time again, proposalscontinued to include but kind of like, as a general rule, maybe youdon't need this, or is that just really a very specific, you knowsort of proposal to proposal concept? Yeah, I think in a lot of waysthe question of tails with with the question of when, so what tosend. Often Times the question from a salesperson will be should I send thatactual proposal that the person can sign off on to do business with us?Should it just be an overarching here's what we can do, let us knowif you're interested and we'll send over the contract, or should it be aproposal that actually includes that legal language that makes it executable? The person canreceive it and say go time, I'm ready to do business? As alawyer I prefer when someone sends me everything all at the beginning. That way, if I'm ready to move quickly, I can review it and get thatdone, so it can help accelerate the deal. I know, though,that others feel like when they receive the full, you know contract, it'slike, well, let's not move so fast. I just wanted to see, you know, the quick back of the Napkin proposal of about what theproduct would look like and, you know, what's the ball park cost, andthen go back and forth on that a little bit. So I thinkit really does depend on you know, where is your customer the bicycle?Are they looking to move pretty fast,...

...in which case I'd send it earlyand often. If it's going a little bit slow where and you need toprove out a use case first, then I would send them kind of theback of the Napkin proposal and maybe a few different versions of it. Youknow, I'm going to send through a three pager. On the first pageyou'll see a deal that's monthly. On the second page our annual deal orif you're ready to make a three year commitment, I'm included a steep discounton page three. Please let me know your feedback if you're leaning toward oneor the other. You know, some companies, for cash the purposes,really want to do monthly. Others want that long term, you know,kind of partnership commitment and like the price discount in order to commit for athree year term. So I think throwing some of that across the bow.I think more often than not you're going to get some good customer feedback andbe able to decide how you want to move forward and then you can shipover the full contract after that. Got It. Got It and and youalso kind of have touched on point number two of when to send it.So, like you said, it kind of depends on a little bit wherethey are in the sale cycle. Personally tailored a bit to the type ofclient that you're talking to, whether it's, you know, someone like you thatwould want all of that information up front or someone that's kind of let'spump the brace a little bit. I just want to think. I justkind of wanted to get some general information. So it sounds a little bit likeyou know, you have to have that conversation with whoever you're talking to. You have to. It's not a one size fit soul. It's wellallow the the conversation you've been having to inform what you're sending and when you'resending it. Ye, and I think that, and that's definitely specific toproposals. So when we talk about sales collateral, marketing collateral, more broadlyspeaking, then I would definitely advise the early and often approach, which isif you have the security information, if you have the network diagram, ifyou happen to be on software, if you've got a case study or apacket that has reviews in it or a slide deck that's working really well forpitching that you use. Sometimes I would combine all those together so it's justone package and put the link into an email and send it out and getthat engagement. Other times it could be advantageous, like if you're doing aprospecting email drip over time, you know, seven emails over the course of threeweeks, then including some different attachments that might attract a different type ofviewer that's thinking about your product or service in a different way can be good. So you know, first one, Hey, I did some research onyour company. This is a this is a little case study. You know, Click this link into view that you can share with your team. Nextemail might be saying totally different. Hey, I know you guys are in finance. saw some of the new regulations coming down. Thought this would berelevant to your industry. We're bulletproof on that front. Check out our networkdiagram and our third party you know pain test results. You Know Click here. So putting putting those into emails as the call that action, having thathyper link in there where they can go in view a presentation or a PDF, I think is really compelling and I think what we found his engagement canfrequently be higher on those links, more...

...clickthroughs, more time spent with themthan just sending them to a boilerplate landing page on your website. It's alittle bit different, a little bit more intriguing for the recipient, and sowe find they're more likely to click through and engage with it, interesting it, and so let's let's talk briefly then, about the WHO you know? Whoare you sending this to, and do you have any kind of piecesof advice for our listeners in terms of you know, and is this onemore talking about the WHO? Is it you know? Is that also informingthe what, and is that also informing the when? I do think itis. Overall, I don't think that that we like to see, youknow, let's say, a trial user of Sirius insight who's kicking the tiresfor their personal use case, that their company. We don't want to dropa big legal document on them and expect things to proceed apace. Instead,I think we want to focus on Hey, have you tried out this other feature? Here's here's some screenshots in a use case of how you could applyit, just like this other person at this other company did, and theyhad a similar role as you. That type of relevant content tends to playbetter than sending them security doc or a big legal document. That said,we don't only want to send them stuff is relevant to them. We liketo send them a few things. It's like, Hey, you know,why don't you take this and share it along to your it team? Thisis not something that you're going to spend a lot of time in, butit will be very useful to them. If you're trying to make the caseinternally to buy serious incias a software platform. Share this with it, because weplay really well with sales force. We integrate with all the custom objects, etcetera. there. They're going to want to know this. They're goingto ask you before they're willing to buy it if these things are true.So we've included that and that is the nice thing about doing it with atrackable attachment link in the email versus an actual attachment is that we can sendthat and then we know when they afforded it and when you know the targetrecipient has opened it and engage with that content, versus if we just send, you know, the attachment as a PDF, we're pretty much flying blind, right. Did they send it? That they not. Are they evergoing to write back and say I did what you requested, that I do, I sent it to my it team? I mean, that's pretty unusual.So it gives us kind of that background metrics and analytics to kind ofsee what the heck is going on internally at the customer site that we canthen piggyback on and send relevant follow up. Yeah, absolutely well. And,of course, speaking of the follow up, I mean we were definitelygoing to touch on a little bit. You know, any any follow upstrategies or tips, tricks, best practices that you kind of you know ofand would maybe want to share with our list nurse today. I mean,one interesting follow up is to acknowledge that all of us, all of usmake mistakes. All of us have accidentally used a template and sent the wrongcontract to the wrong customer or sent a proposal when we were supposed to senda contract, or sent one case study and kind of wished we had sentthe other one, but it's pretty awkward to reply the same email threat andsay disregard the first attachment. Here's the second attachment, and none of uslike doing the hey, I revised the...

...contract for the thirty time. Soplease see attachment named, you know, v Thirty. One of the Nicethings that using a platform like an attach is that it's forgivable. Right,I can send you John us in a proposal and then realize, shoot,I just sent him the proposal for Bobby buyer. That's not who I wantto send it to. This was a mistake. I can go into attachand simply remove that document and that way you click the link and it justsays, Oh, we're sorry that documents no longer available. Or, evenbetter, I can take the document simply replace it for the proposal that wasintended for you. So I didn't have to recall an email, I didn'thave to try to go in and, you know, quickly undo send orsomething which you know, beyond a couple of minutes, not going to workanyway. So it's forgivable. When you make a mistake, you can basicallyrecall a document and you can also update a document. That can be alsoa decent way to follow up, which is, you know, when youget feedback from the prospect saying you know, that was kind of interesting. I'mnot really sure if this is for me, though, or yeah,you well, the case studies. Okay, but they're in a totally different industry. Okay, I've actually just updated the deck. Go ahead and Clickon the same link again. I've made some changes. Check it out now. I've added some new slides. I've added some extra documents on the back. Versus uploading those documents as new links that then they have to reshare it, put them on the same file. That way everyone they've already shared itto internally has access to all the same information. So it keeps the seller, US and the buyer who they're targeting, all on the same page. Everybody'salways looking at the same set of documents, versus, Oh, thisperson recently left the company and they took everything you sent with them with themand now we got to like restart the whole process again. If it livesin a link, it's remained accessible to everybody, which can be really beneficialbecause all of us know people change jobs pretty fast and all the time now, so the link is useful in that respect. Yeah, sounds incredibly useful. Well, Brandon, I think that again, this has been a veryunique insightful topic. I was we're so thrilled to have you back on theshow. If any of our listeners are interested in connecting with you learning moreabout today's topic or they or they want to connect with you and or anyoneat the at the serious team, what's the best way for them to goabout doing that? Yeah, it's always easy to email me, brandon atserious insightcom. I'm also pretty active on Linkedin and yeah, folks out therehave great slide decks using, you know, great proposals they're riding to share.We always like to feature those. So we're happy to feature them onthe attached ioh log, obviously attached to the product that does the attachment tracking. We also like to circulate those via our serious insight channels. So ifany of listeners are thinking, yeah, I do that or I've got agood example of what work or what didn't work, we love to highlight thoseand call them out. Fantastic. Well, brandon, thank you again so muchfor taking some time to join us here on the show. It's alwaysa pleasure having you and a very happy new year to you and the seriousinsight team. Likewise, Jonathan, thanks bunch. There are lots of waysto build a community and we've chosen to...

...build the BEDD growth community through thispodcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engagewith our listeners, and without engagement it's tough to build a great community.So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the countrywith our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just greatconversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, will talk family, will talk goalsand dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be apart of a BB growth dinner in a sitting near you, go to beto be growth dinnerscom. That's be to be growth dinnerscom. Thank you somuch for listening. Until next time,.

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