Proposal Creation Tools for Accountants And Advisors
Here are some great tools for speeding up the creation of proposals, as well as increasing measurability and engagement in the proposal process.
The first three tools above are generic, multi-industry tools. They allow you to set up flexible templates that can be used to quickly create custom proposals. Being web-based tools, they also allow you to embed videos into your documents. That adds a definite ‘wow factor’ and video is a powerful tool for accelerating the building of trust if you speak to camera so that people can see ‘the whites of your eyes’ in the video, so to speak.
Using these tools, recipients of your online proposals can also type in questions directly in the document, which you are then notified of and can reply to; and they can also Accept or Reject the proposal with a click of their mouse. Electronic signature tools like RightSignature can also integrate with these apps.
If that all sounds too high tech for you, you can also simply export the proposal as a nicely branded PDF that you can print or email to your client or prospective client.
I know of a number of accounting firms that are using SocketApp.com. Having a highly systemised and efficient proposal process is essential when you are getting a steady stream of new clients. Adele Wardley of A Squared Advisers who recently completed her first year in our Modern Marketing Academy tells us she’s picking up a new client virtually every week many of which are large clients and in-depth engagements. Without a fast and efficient proposal process, a growing firm like Adele’s would end up with a proposal backlog and would lose momentum and prospective clients as a result. (And by applying the Focus strategy we teach in Module 1 of the Modern Marketing Academy for accountants and advisors, Adele has made her firm scalable. Nice.)
We wrote about the benefits of having a systemised and defined proposal process in Post 1 and Post 2 in this article series and just the other day Adele commented on our Facebook Page about the benefits of using a structured proposal creation system:
The biggest benefit for us is the temptation to discount the price is reduced – everyone pays the same for the same service. We all know it, our clients know it and the more people that buy our service at the desired price, the higher our confidence that the next desired customer will pay that too. Feedback from clients is fabulous. The best feedback I’ve had recently is “they won the job because they know how to quote”.
Regarding SocketApp, Adele commented:
We found it was able to be very customised at the back end to accurately price and describe our desired service offerings, which did take quite some time. However now that it is developed it is very easy to use and update.
Guy Pearson of Practice Ignition has taken the concept of SocketApp one step further and created a tool specifically for accountants. In the accounting firm Guy founded (Interactive Accounting in which Guy is no longer in an operational role, acting solely as Chairman), he experienced frustrations with SocketApp and other tools, such as the inability to sign on clients mid-term and then bill them pro-rata. Guy added extra functionality that many accounting firms need such as the bulk sending of engagements and group engagements.
Practice Ignition goes upstream from the proposal process to help you define your fixed price service plans, and then downstream from the proposal process to streamline the entire engagement process, linking with cloud-based accounting platform Xero for invoicing and WorkflowMax for creation of clients and jobs linked to acceptance of engagement proposals. Very efficient. It is also a collaboration tool for communicating with clients, allowing them to see their jobs, upload documents and update their contact details.
For firms already using the document management system HowNow by Business Fitness, the Merge Letter functionality allows you to have a wizard-based process where you tick the relevant services and options to include in the proposal, and a Word document is then instantly created that leaves out all the irrelevant standard paragraphs from the template, inserts the recipient’s details throughout the document and automatically files and correctly names it. Very neat.
The eSales system by MYP Corporation not only produces the customised proposal, it also sends it via email, sends reminder follow-up emails and upstream from all of that, it also provides a client/prospect-facing wizard that the advisor uses in the actual sales conversation. This supports the advisor with a structured series of questions to ask in the client/prospect meeting.
Crucial note: Each of these tools requires you to first define, price, package and modularise your service offering. That’s why the PARADOX approach in teaching accountants in our Academy is to address Mindset + Skills + Systems. This brings about change. Unless you first understand the WHY (Mindset) and then the HOW (the Skills) of packaging and selling your services, then the Systems (such as proposal software) are far less effective.
That’s why we’re so passionate about educating accountants and advisors about marketing and selling. As far as your value-add services go, you never get to deliver what you never learn to sell. By their very definition, your non-compliance value-add services are optional services. This means they need to be sold.
Firms who learn these marketing and selling skills, such as Adele at A Squared Advisers who I mentioned earlier, lift the lid on their growth potential.
Get the mindset and skills in place first and then are you in a position to fully utilise the power of these wonderful proposal creation systems.
Let us know in the Comments area below which proposal creation tools you have tried and what you’re currently using and why. We’d love to hear.
Next post …
The proposal stage is but one component of the sales process. In our next post we’ll explore some of the symptoms and consequences of having a sales process that is too labour-intensive and relies too heavily on Principals/Partners/Directors.