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The process of Document Automation may not be the sexiest topic in the world, I'll give you that. However, most businesses use a combination of proposals, contracts, and other types of docs to collect information, display pricing, collect signatures, and close deals. If you send more than 5 documents per month, this'll be a topic you'll want to pay attention to, because a nice cloud based, advanced document automation and assembly software can make your life a lot easier, showcase your business documents and reinforce your brand. This can really make you look like a rock star to your customers and prospects.
Here are some of the current pain points that we see our clients struggling with.
You send a some business documents to a client for them to review and keep checking to see if they've replied back, wondering if they've seen it, and worrying that there's something in it that they don't like. If it feels like it's taking too long for your prospects and customers to review and comment on the .pdfs that you're sending them, then they probably are taking too long. If you don't know how long it takes, on average, for your documents to be signed, then that's another sign that it's probably taking too long and a red flag that you need to invest in a software solution that gives you visibility into what quotes or contracts you've sent, and where the bottlenecks are, and how you can speed up the sales cycle and increase conversion rates
Consider this real life horror story: You send an email saying "Review this document and let me know if you have any questions", the document and email gets buried in your inbox, you start doing work for the client, they turn out to be shady and refuse to pay for your services, and then when you go back to find the contract, you realize that you never followed up and collected their signature. This exact situation happened to me early on and cost me thousands of dollars in loss. Don't let this happen to you. Besides being a real drag on productivity, there can be a real cost to having a haphazard document management process.
You spend a lot of time and money on your brand - your colors, your voice, and your imagery kick your brand up a notch above the competition. So after wow-ing your prospects over a sales call, when you send an ugly Word doc for them to look at during the crucial timeframe where they're deciding whether to spend money with you, it can really be a drag. Consider an alternative universe where you sent beautiful documents that reflects your brand, has customer testimonial videos embedded right in, and allows them to quickly and easily sign off. When you have a great document generation process in place, not only do you save time creating and sending documents, but you're reinforcing your brand with every piece of content that you send to a prospect.
Around a year ago, I spoke with a law firm that was copying and pasting Word Documents, doing a global find and replace to change names and pronouns, and then having their clients sign these documents. The problem with this method is that it was highly likely for their to be errors, and in legal documents, errors were not a good thing. In finding and replacing, you might miss typos. They would create customized documents by copying the most recent version of the document on their computer, but they would often find out later that there was a more recent version of that document that they should have used. As a result, they were spending lots and lots of time hunting down goofy errors to minimize their risk of inaccuracies. Because the content from a document automation tool is generated automatically using a pre-built template and dynamic content, when you have the right technology in place it will help you reduce and in many cases eliminate the risk of errors in your documents every time. I'm telling you, your compliance teams will love a good document automation workflow.
When you start shopping for document automation software, here are some of the technology requirements that you should have at the top of your list.
Document creation should be easy and beautiful. Your marketing team or Sales Manager should be able to create templates that your team can use and reuse, saving hours each month in document management and practically eliminating time spent writing proposals.
You should be able to save small chunks of documents in a Content Library so that you can use these whenever it's appropriate. Say you're selling to a particular industry and you have a case study that's relevant to that industry - add it in with one click to help build trust and increase the likelihood of the deal closing.
You should be able to easily create workflows, so that a sales manager can approve a document before it's sent to a customer. You should also be able to easily copy other team members on a document so everyone is in the loop.
Your document generation solution should be cloud based so you can see every document that your team has sent out for signature in one organized view. At a glance, you should have the all the insight you need to know what deals to follow up on and what deals have closed.
Each document should be a smart document, meaning you should be able to personalize the document's content from one place. So when you set the first name and last name, it automatically populates everywhere that it should inside the document.
You should be able to handle pricing tables, quotes, and discounts easily, right inside the document.
You should be able to insert text fields, date fields, checkboxes, dropdowns, and more so that you can collect the information you need from the customer.
You should be able to easily add signature fields so that the customer can quickly and easily sign the document.
If it's appropriate for the type of document that you're sending, you should also be able to collect payment directly within the document.
Your document creation tool should have integrations with every major CRM on the market. If you use a CRM to manage your sales document, your document software should connect to your CRM so that you don't have to do any additional data entry. It should suck the information out of your CRM and then push the signed document back into your CRM when it's done, keeping everything in one place.
You should easily be able to see every time a prospect or customer views your document, and you should even be able to receive notifications in real time as they view it. Very few things are more effective than when you send a document to a client, they ghost you, and then you receive a notification a few weeks later that they're viewing your document again. It gives you the context you need to pick up the phone and close the deal.
You should also be able to see how your customers are interacting with your documents. How much time have they spent on each page? What areas are they spending time with, and what are they skimming over? This can be helpful for you as you iterate on your documents to make sure that they're performing the best that they can.
We ran across PandaDoc a couple of years ago, and immediately found it to be a smart and easy solution for our workflow. Our agency uses HubSpot as our CRM and Marketing Automation platform, and we needed a document tool that would allow us to create beautiful templates for proposals and contracts without requiring a bunch of manual data entry. We found PandaDoc to be the best document assembly and management software for our needs and the price was right for us as a small agency. Oh, and it's highly reviewed and loved by businesses of every size.
We believe it's important for us to have a consistent brand, and our proposals and contracts are no exception. PandaDoc checked all of the boxes that we listed above and has proven to be a powerful platform that gives us the ability us to create beautiful documents, track their progress as we close deals and increase overall efficiency with our deal closing processes.
We've recently become PandaDoc Certified Partners, meaning we're well-versed in setting up and training companies in using PandaDoc efficiently for their business. They have a lot of advanced features, such as in-person signing, HIPAA compliance, redlining, workflows, and much more. If all you need is to collect a signature on a document you already have created, they even have a completely free e-sign plan.
We believe it's the best tool on the market, which is why it's the only document creation tool that we service for our customers. You won't find a better value for the price, so if you're interested in learning more, then schedule a demo of PandaDoc with us so we can talk through how it could help your business manage, create, send, and sign documents more effectively.