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My Favourite Application

I love apps and tools for making my life easier. You may call this lazy (I do sometimes) but doing something in one tenth of the time it normally takes always appeals to me.

I always look at a task and see if it can be automated or made easier.  Whether it be an Excel macro or an app like Textexpander that I use hundreds (yes hundreds) of times per day.  I am always downloading new ones, trying them out and binning them if they don’t suit.  I have a core set that I really love using and really help my productivity.  One that is top of the list is Bidsketch

What is Bidsketch?

Bidsketch is cloud based proposal creation tool.  There are lots out there but this ticks all the boxes and more.  I am not going to list out all the features but an example will explain how I use it and how I get new business from it all the time.

Bidsketch & Me

I was contacted last week by a website prospect.  We had a nice chat on the phone. She said she had a brief and would send it onto me. We had a a follow up call to clarify some of her questions.

I added her to Evernote with a reminder to catch up with her after Christmas.  Tagged there as a lead.This happens every day with me so I have a slick process for this too which I will explain in another post about my CRM process.

The brief arrived that night so lets get our stop watches ticking here folks.  The email arrived in the evening at 18:35

stage1

So I came into the office this morning saw the email, read the brief.

It was pretty clear. Time to get a proposal out to her. So over to Bidsketch.

One of the many attractions of Bidsketch is that you can create boilerplate sections for your most common proposals. Over the year or so since I have used it I have fine tuned my sections (and continue to do so) so that for a proposal like this I can create a personalised one in under 15 minutes.

Yes I said 15 minutes. For more complex projects it does take a bit longer. This wasn’t one of them.

When I first started creating proposals I used MS Word.  I am pretty nifty with Word but it is a beast really and the amount of time spent on table of contents, page numbers and basically messing around with content that was largely irrelevant to the actual proposal was too much.

Bidsketch takes this out of the equation.

Proposal Timeline

So I created the proposal made some minor edits and sent it to the client.  Actually I clicked a button Bidsketch that sends it as a PDF to their Inbox with a customised email.

Here is a little bit of its magic.  You get an email when they open it – every time -.  About an hour later my email burped

stage2

Ok so see the time.  The client viewed the proposal at 10.01.  The actual document including fees and Terms and Conditions was about 4 pages.  And yes she did misspell my name!

So what happened next.  I didn’t do anything except register in Evernote that she had received it.

stage3

Proposal accepted 5 minutes later.

How Bidsketch Makes My Business Better

In the Old MS Word world I would have taken much longer to get this out and in some cases I might just have resorted to emailing a price with some bullet points.

Being brutally honest I often delayed getting proposals out.  Now every job gets a proposal.  They look professional and it ensures that there is a scope document every time.  When I first started out I was often a busy fool due to scope creep.  I have become much more efficient now and a proper proposal makes a colossal difference to closing projects and getting projects

Of course they don’t  all reply as fast as that and accept – wouldn’t that be nice, but I regularly get feedback on the promptness and smart appearance of my proposals.

It also allows me to look at all my proposals online and keep in touch with those who have read them and see if they have any questions.  I can also revise the proposal if there is scope changes and re-issue and again and have it accepted.

Having the proposal acceptance email also serves as a simple acceptance of the scope which is really important for both parties.

What Are the Bad Things About Bidsketch

Well there aren’t.  What it does is makes me disciplined.  It makes me quote and create proposals for all my projects.

Even if the job is for a small fee clients get a proposal.  It is a great method of tracking all my ongoing pipeline work and shows me my activity levels as well from atop level.

I shiver to think of returning to Word.

Update:

During a slow day today when a lot out of the office businesses were quiet I sent out two proposals in a few hours.  Again the ease of Bidsketch allowed this happen and potential clients come into the office with a great proposal in their inbox