Keep Your Sales Proposals Away from the Competition
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Are you a business owner, CEO, or a VP of Sales that regretted emailing a digital copy of a sales proposal to a prospective client? If the answer is yes, then keep reading as Microsoft has a great solution to this challenging dilemma for sales professionals.
During a client sales pitch, it’s an exciting phase of the sales process, right? You have a great meeting during which the client gives compliments and every indication they like you, your products, and your services. Encouraging you at the prospects of landing the deal, the prospect tells you that a decision will be made soon. Feeling optimistic, you email a digital copy of the proposal upon the client’s request. Then later, you discover your rates are being shopped. Even worse, you realize that details you consider intellectual property are now in the hands of the competition. That original hope of a quick win turns into a long and costly sales cycle. Does this sound familiar?
Historically when clients ask for the digital copy of a proposal, sales professionals have had two options.
REFUSE: Denying the request using an awkward excuse can create distrust and unwanted tension. If the client’s intentions were sincere and you pulled this tactic, wouldn’t it be a shame to lose the prospect over an unnecessary defensive posture?
COMPLY: If you email a digital copy of the proposal in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF, then you risk getting “shopped.” You know better, but it’s hard to say no, right?
In either situation, something is at risk or you are not in control.
Well, good news! Microsoft 365 has a technology that allows you to seamlessly protect, not only your sales proposals, but also any kind of Microsoft Office document (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook) or PDF for a multitude of reasons. With a simple press of a button, you can label, classify, and encrypt your document so you are always in control of your data!
Microsoft 365 has a technology that allows you to seamlessly protect, not only your sales proposals, but also any kind of Microsoft Office document (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook) or PDF for a multitude of reasons… you are always in control of your data.
The key to unlocking this powerful capability is to subscribe to Microsoft 365, which includes a feature called Azure Information Protection (also known as Microsoft Information Protection). This feature is found in Microsoft 365 Business, Microsoft 365 E3, and Microsoft 365 E5 licensing plans. Using Azure Information Protection Services, you can “encrypt a document in a way that only your client can see the contents” and restrict their ability to print, copy, or even take a screenshot of the document. If your prospect attempts to forward a copy of the proposal to another recipient, perhaps your competitor, that document’s encryption won’t allow the unauthorized user to open it. Even more, you will receive a notification with the email address of the unauthorized user that is trying to open the document. Think of how strategically beneficial it would be alerted the moment you are being shopped around with enough clues for you to uncover the identity of the competition. Azure Information Protection gives you this and much more!
Using Azure Information Protection Services, you can “encrypt a document in a way that only your client can see the contents” and restrict their ability to print, copy, or even take a screenshot of the document.
Another less provocative scenario is when you go through the entire sales process and make a pitch, but the client is either too busy or distracted to read the proposal. You follow-up persistently but get vague replies and odd excuses. Sometimes you are left wondering, “did they even read the proposal?” With Azure Information Protection, you will know if the document has been opened at the exact moment it happens.
This is much different than a plain old “read receipt” request where you depend on recipient cooperation. Most recipients, of course, choose “no” to read receipts anyway. For many, it is standard practice to create an automatic rule, rejecting read receipts, to avoid spammers. With Azure Information Protection, you are not at the mercy of someone else. You will receive alerts if any user (authorized or not) attempts to open the document and not just the email where the copy is embedded. And get this, they will have no idea that any of this is happening. This functionality runs silently behind the scenes of the document, authenticating via the internet to Office 365/Azure and then back to your private email sending alerts and notifications to keep you on top of things.
Imagine how curious the prospect will be if you send the following communication to them:
“Dear prospect. I noticed you have yet to view the proposal document I sent you two weeks ago. Are you still interested in doing a project with us?”
The typical reaction is, “how did they know?” During a sales process, closing a deal is often a direct result of effective ways to grab the attention of the busy decision makers and a call to action. Instead of emailing the prospect multiple times with no success and possibly making them tune out your communications as annoying spam, you simply send one thought provoking note calling them out for not reading the communication. Triggering curiosity often motivates a prospect to respond.
Instead of emailing the prospect multiple times with no success and possibly making them tune out your communications as annoying spam, you simply send one thought provoking note calling them out for not reading the communication.
Is this a sales tactic? Yes, you can call it that. I prefer to think of it as a sales tool. Whatever you call it, this technology will save you time and help increase sales. It is certainly a better alternative than having the proposal you labored on for hours being ignored. If you knew ahead of time that the prospect had not read the proposal, would you take the time to follow up a bunch of times? Of course not!
You are probably wondering, “how does this technology work and is it hard to setup and use?” First, with the help of a trained and certified IT professional or consultant, you will need backend system programming. Although we won’t delve into that technical setup in this blog, please understand that it won’t take long for a trained professional to configure the settings. By upgrading to Microsoft 365, you will have the ability to control your documents wherever they are located (inside or outside of your network).
Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org learn more about how to implement Microsoft Information Protection and other security features of the Microsoft 365 platform.