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 your content, start a podcast, feature industry experts on your show and leverage the influence and reach of your guests to grow your brand. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the be tob growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to 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 a returning guest to the B to be gross show, so we're thrilled to have them here today. Brandon, welcome back to the show. Jonathan's great to be back. And so, you know, a very, a very happy New Year of very happy two thousand and eighteen to you. We are just discussing a little bit before we started recording about you know, how quickly two thousand and seventeen flew by and then and some of our plans and goals for for the New Year. But for those who maybe didn't hear your previous episode or just tuning in to join us on the be tob growth show, maybe you can tell us a little about what you and your team at serious insights are 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 day just 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 on the market to connect Gmail with sales force. There was a gap there and credit to my cofounder, Ryan Hath who developed the first version of serious insight to connect Gmail with sales force. And thankfully both of those companies, Google and sales force, have done incredibly well. So we've been able to grow along with them and serve their customers. So today we've got a couple hundred thousand people that are using our application primarily to connect Gmail and outlook with sales force, but also to get, you know, that suite of power tools in the inbox to be more productive, save time, start more conversations with their customers. So everything from email templates, email tracking, drip campaigns for sales teams, the ability to schedule more meetings faster, and then now also the ability to track attachments and slide decks and proposals, and that's we're particularly excited about that going into the new year. Well, that's fantastic. Always Nice when 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 a little 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 to be talking about today on the show. We're going to be talking about sort of the the what, when, who,...

...how of proposals. It's something that everyone has to do kind of knows about. We've never talked about this on the BB grows show and so I think it's going to be kind of a 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 started a 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 how it worked as we took our sales and marketing collaterally uploaded those pdas and power points and word Docs and Google docs and Google sheets into their online platform and then instead of taking those individual PDS and power points, etcetera, and loading them as normal attachments on to an email, instead you just grab a link and put the link in the email and that way, when we would send it out, when our customers would click the link, we would get an alert that said, hey, this customer has opened this proposal, and we were really enthusiastic about the fact that it was real time. So once we got that alert, we could actually log in to our dashboard, our console on Attachedt io, and we could watch the customer viewing the proposal in real time. So we could say, okay, they just flipped a page number two and now they're okay, now they're moving to page three. They're spending a 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 they finished, did they come back to it the next day or maybe the next day after that, in which case we knew, okay, they're really revisiting this, they're really in the tank thinking about doing business with us, and we 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 in their company, because they might take that same link and forward the email to some of their colleagues. And then when each member of their team went to go of you the document, they would need to say, yeah, I want 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 their team is doing the document. So we really enjoyed seeing that a the attachment had in fact been received, which with a normal email attachment you just don't know right you send it out in the wind. Did they notice there was a touchment on the email. Were they able to open it? That they get blocked by their bulk mail, or did they flag it because it's an attachment they're worried about, you know, malware or something like that? So we know that it got there, we know they opened it and then we can actually see how they're engaging with it and we were excited about that because I feel like we spend a lot of time focusing on, you know, Lee Generation. Prospecting our applications here since of night really focuses on, you know, how do you get those first meetings? How do you start those conversations? How do you follow up appropriately? But then when I got to the proposing time, we were still sending...

...out regular old attachments and with attachedot Ioh we really liked it. We thought well, this is a better way. So fast forward to mid November during dream force, we completed our acquisition of attach and so now we own that platform and we're on boarding a lot more of our customers onto it and we're starting to combine that functionality into the core serious insight platform. So, Long Story Short, we've been thinking a lot over the last six months about proposals. Right. What are we doing with all these documents that we have, that we've created over the last several years? 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 sales team on the same page so that one person's not sending out, you know, the marketing deck from two years ago and someone else is sending out a proposal they handwrote and so forth? How do we keep everybody on the same page? Yeah, well, and it you know, it's I mean it's fascinating that you were able to sort of, like you said, collect this information kind of in real time and get some tremendous insight into the world of you know, once we've once we've sent out a proposal, you know what 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 you know, 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 or it's a done deal or or whatever the mentality is, but there is still some 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's informed. You know the best way to approach a new proposal. Let's start here with the with point number one. What have you found is valuable to include and what maybe can you leave out? Yeah, it's a great question I think all of us grapple with. Hey do I do I put this big case study in there? You should it be this long? Should be the short? Like what exactly should go in to the types of documents that I'm sending out to my prospects and my customers? I think the answer first off is send them what they asked for. So if someone says I'd like to see a couple case studies of some people in my industry, of about my size, hopefully you have that or you can make something like that or give them as close to that as they're asking for. I certainly wouldn't hold anything back. I think what the research out there that we've reviewed his showing is that certainly examples of other people having success are the most popular to send and to receive. Customers like viewing those. I would say my personal wrinkle on that 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 when they're sent to me from other vendors because I'm like well, yeah, but I'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 number of employees and the way we do business?...

So I do think it's very important to 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 that you 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, people will tend to abandon. You know, all it takes is one slightly not interesting slide and a fifty slide deck for the person to to abandon the whole thing and leave. So for those types of case studies, you know, two pages, right, first big intro page presenting the problem and here's how we solved it and move on. That way it's a quick hit. You can send it on its own, but even better we like to combine that with multiple other documents. So we might say hey, first here's the case study, 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 then following that, here's some screenshots of our application in action and you can see how easy it's going to be for your users to use it, and that's kind of a nice package that helps them to okay, here's two pages on that, but then I'm going to get to switch pages and look at something totally different that appeals to someone else in the company. We think it also increases the likelihood that they're going to share it. So they might be sharing it and saying to the recipient, Hey, checkout page five. You can skip the security stuff because you're not in security, but you're in user experience in sales. So check out page five and thereafter. So it increases likelihood'll get shared internally. Interesting. Yeah, that's great and I know you have sort of touched on this, but I don't know if there was anything that specifically you wanted to mention in terms of, you know, what to leave out? Is there something that you've seen time and time again, proposals continued to include but kind of like, as a general rule, maybe you don't need this, or is that just really a very specific, you know sort of proposal to proposal concept? Yeah, I think in a lot of ways the question of tails with with the question of when, so what to send. Often Times the question from a salesperson will be should I send that actual 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 know if you're interested and we'll send over the contract, or should it be a proposal that actually includes that legal language that makes it executable? The person can receive it and say go time, I'm ready to do business? As a lawyer 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 that done, so it can help accelerate the deal. I know, though, that others feel like when they receive the full, you know contract, it's like, well, let's not move so fast. I just wanted to see, you know, the quick back of the Napkin proposal of about what the product would look like and, you know, what's the ball park cost, and then go back and forth on that a little bit. So I think it 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 early and often. If it's going a little bit slow where and you need to prove out a use case first, then I would send them kind of the back of the Napkin proposal and maybe a few different versions of it. You know, I'm going to send through a three pager. On the first page you'll see a deal that's monthly. On the second page our annual deal or if you're ready to make a three year commitment, I'm included a steep discount on page three. Please let me know your feedback if you're leaning toward one or 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 a three 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 and be able to decide how you want to move forward and then you can ship over the full contract after that. Got It. Got It and and you also 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 where they are in the sale cycle. Personally tailored a bit to the type of client that you're talking to, whether it's, you know, someone like you that would want all of that information up front or someone that's kind of let's pump the brace a little bit. I just want to think. I just kind of wanted to get some general information. So it sounds a little bit like you 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 well allow the the conversation you've been having to inform what you're sending and when you're sending it. Ye, and I think that, and that's definitely specific to proposals. So when we talk about sales collateral, marketing collateral, more broadly speaking, then I would definitely advise the early and often approach, which is if you have the security information, if you have the network diagram, if you happen to be on software, if you've got a case study or a packet that has reviews in it or a slide deck that's working really well for pitching that you use. Sometimes I would combine all those together so it's just one package and put the link into an email and send it out and get that engagement. Other times it could be advantageous, like if you're doing a prospecting email drip over time, you know, seven emails over the course of three weeks, then including some different attachments that might attract a different type of viewer 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 on your company. This is a this is a little case study. You know, Click this link into view that you can share with your team. Next email might be saying totally different. Hey, I know you guys are in finance. saw some of the new regulations coming down. Thought this would be relevant to your industry. We're bulletproof on that front. Check out our network diagram 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 that hyper 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 can frequently be higher on those links, more...

...clickthroughs, more time spent with them than just sending them to a boilerplate landing page on your website. It's a little bit different, a little bit more intriguing for the recipient, and so we 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? Who are you sending this to, and do you have any kind of pieces of advice for our listeners in terms of you know, and is this one more talking about the WHO? Is it you know? Is that also informing the what, and is that also informing the when? I do think it is. Overall, I don't think that that we like to see, you know, let's say, a trial user of Sirius insight who's kicking the tires for their personal use case, that their company. We don't want to drop a 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 apply it, just like this other person at this other company did, and they had a similar role as you. That type of relevant content tends to play better 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 like to 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? This is not something that you're going to spend a lot of time in, but it will be very useful to them. If you're trying to make the case internally to buy serious incias a software platform. Share this with it, because we play really well with sales force. We integrate with all the custom objects, etcetera. there. They're going to want to know this. They're going to 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 a trackable attachment link in the email versus an actual attachment is that we can send that and then we know when they afforded it and when you know the target recipient 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 ever going 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 of see what the heck is going on internally at the customer site that we can then piggyback on and send relevant follow up. Yeah, absolutely well. And, of course, speaking of the follow up, I mean we were definitely going to touch on a little bit. You know, any any follow up strategies or tips, tricks, best practices that you kind of you know of and 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 us make mistakes. All of us have accidentally used a template and sent the wrong contract to the wrong customer or sent a proposal when we were supposed to send a contract, or sent one case study and kind of wished we had sent the other one, but it's pretty awkward to reply the same email threat and say disregard the first attachment. Here's the second attachment, and none of us like doing the hey, I revised the...

...contract for the thirty time. So please see attachment named, you know, v Thirty. One of the Nice things 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 want to send it to. This was a mistake. I can go into attach and simply remove that document and that way you click the link and it just says, Oh, we're sorry that documents no longer available. Or, even better, I can take the document simply replace it for the proposal that was intended for you. So I didn't have to recall an email, I didn't have to try to go in and, you know, quickly undo send or something which you know, beyond a couple of minutes, not going to work anyway. So it's forgivable. When you make a mistake, you can basically recall a document and you can also update a document. That can be also a decent way to follow up, which is, you know, when you get feedback from the prospect saying you know, that was kind of interesting. I'm not 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 Click on 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 it to 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's always looking at the same set of documents, versus, Oh, this person recently left the company and they took everything you sent with them with them and now we got to like restart the whole process again. If it lives in a link, it's remained accessible to everybody, which can be really beneficial because 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 very unique insightful topic. I was we're so thrilled to have you back on the show. If any of our listeners are interested in connecting with you learning more about today's topic or they or they want to connect with you and or anyone at the at the serious team, what's the best way for them to go about doing that? Yeah, it's always easy to email me, brandon at serious insightcom. I'm also pretty active on Linkedin and yeah, folks out there have 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 on the 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 if any of listeners are thinking, yeah, I do that or I've got a good example of what work or what didn't work, we love to highlight those and call them out. Fantastic. Well, brandon, thank you again so much for taking some time to join us here on the show. It's always a pleasure having you and a very happy new year to you and the serious insight team. Likewise, Jonathan, thanks bunch. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to...

...build the BEDD growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with 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 country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, will talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a BB growth dinner in a sitting near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be to be growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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