SmartBrief Optimizes Its Sales Process with Octiv

Smart BriefSmartBrief partners with leading trade associations to provide industry news to business professionals. Founded in 1999, the online publisher works across 14 different industries and publishes more than 200 e-newsletters daily. SmartBrief’s editorial staff hand-picks and summarizes the most relevant articles for business professionals.

SmartBrief is forward-thinking when it comes to technology, and has its own proprietary ad server. The company uses Salesforce CRM and is dedicated to making Salesforce its primary system of record.

The Situation

As SmartBrief’s client base grew, the company needed a system in place to track the proposals it sent to prospects. Before Octiv, the SmartBrief team had no proposal standardization, no central repository and no way to track pricing. These challenges made proposal creation difficult.

Historically, sales teams have struggled to balance selling and administrative activities. According to CSO Insights, sales reps only spend 33 percent of their time actively selling. Streamlining the document creation and delivery process, a central location in which to store those documents, and a system that integrates easily with an organization’s existing technology could help decrease the time sales reps spend on non-selling tasks and increase sales productivity.

The Problem

SmartBrief’s sales team needed a standardized system from which to generate, deliver and track proposals. Providing consistent branding, language and pricing were also important elements to improving the customer experience.

“It would take our sellers anywhere from a day to parts of several days to create a proposal,” said Jenna Snyder, Senior Director of sales planning and operations at SmartBrief. Salespeople used PowerPoint to create proposals and delivered them via email attachments. “That took time away that could have been spent on sales calls or generating new business,” said Jenna.

Salespeople were unable to track the results of the proposals they sent, nor could they determine how prospects interact with them. Without a centralized way to keep track of proposals, salespeople were in the dark about when proposals were viewed and unable to easily access them when needed.

The Solution

SmartBrief had been planning to create a “proposal desk”—a team tasked with creating proposals—when a SmartBrief CRM team member discovered Octiv at Dreamforce. The goal of the proposal desk was to streamline SmartBrief’s proposal process and to standardize branding and design.

“When we learned that Octiv could integrate with all the great things we were already doing in Salesforce, it was a pretty quick decision to give it a try,” Jenna said. The implementation process went smoothly. “Training was easy,” she said. “The Octiv support team is very responsive.”

“We rely on Octiv for so many things – from our sales proposals, to our media kits, to our IOs, to presentation and renewal decks. I’m not sure we could live without it at this point.”

Jenna Snyder's HeadshotJenna Snyder, Senior Director of Sales Planning and Operations, SmartBrief

The Results

Octiv’s proposal templates allow SmartBrief’s proposal team to create attractive, easy-to-navigate documents that are delivered with the click of a button.

“Since we’re a digital platform, having an online proposal process elevates us and looks professional and cutting-edge,” said Snyder. “Octiv allows us to generate professional-looking documents quickly. The templates and repository of files, assets and content allow us to get our job done much quicker than if we constantly had to start a PowerPoint from scratch each time.”

With Octiv, SmartBrief has been able to standardize its proposal creation and delivery process, streamline its proposal process, creating and sending more than 600 proposals each quarter. “We win over 30 percent of the proposals created in Octiv,” Snyder said.

The company’s average deal size doubled as well: “We can now put larger opportunities in front of clients, since it’s easier to present more options,” said Snyder.

Proposals aren’t the only process Octiv has been able to streamline and improve for SmartBrief. Each of the 200 newsletters the company produces requires a media kit, which had to be updated separately. Thanks to Octiv’s seamless Salesforce integration, all 200 media kits are generated from a single Octiv template and updated through Salesforce.

SmartBrief didn’t stop at media kits, though. “We created a new version of our Insertion Order in Octiv, as well as instituted Master Services Agreements and Statements of Work for all our content marketing products to be built and delivered in Octiv,” Snyder said.

As SmartBrief has expanded its use of Octiv from proposals to pretty much all major documents, teams across the entire company have had the opportunity to work within Octiv. “When we started working with Octiv, only our sales team used it,” Snyder said. “Now almost every department utilizes Octiv in some capacity.”

“We rely on Octiv for so many things – from our sales proposals, to our media kits, to our IOs, to presentation and renewal decks,” said Snyder. “I’m not sure we could live without it at this point.”


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