It’s a long-standing tradition in technology sales to reuse boilerplates from customer to customer when writing a scope of work (SOWs). And we’re just going to say it: it’s time to lay those terrible boilerplate SOWs to rest. They’re not effective, there’s too much room for error, and they don’t lead to the best solution for your customers.
This is where the problems start.
One of the biggest problems with standard boilerplates is that they don’t dive deep enough into the actual issues. The rote information and manufacture speak included in most boilerplate SOWs is not nearly thorough enough to address the customer needs in a way that’s real, effective, or persuasive. Even worse, it may have information that is completely irrelevant to the issues at hand.
It starts with questions that are generic and don’t go deep enough into the customer needs to enable you to propose an in-depth solution. This is a dangerous route to take because it could miss information that’s incredibly important to the implementation, and could wind up costing you (or your customer) down the road.
In addition to having a lot of room for error, these SOWs just aren’t as persuasive. They’re very vague and don’t have the highly focused and personalized recommendations that will persuade the customer to move forward with the project you’re proposing. Bottom line: if you don’t take your customer’s unique needs into account, you’re probably not going to close many deals.
The scope of work issues get worse.
Recycled boilerplate SOWs are practically invitations for errors. There are small errors like typos or formatting issues, and then there are big errors like listing the wrong technology or using the wrong customer name. Either way, you’re corroding your credibility with your customer, and some of these errors can wind up costing your organization a lot of money—either to correct them during implementation or in the form of customer satisfaction (which is another word for money).
It’s very dangerous to leave any room for interpretation during the implementation. One of the most important things you can do is define what it means to be “ready to implement” or “up to date”, and assign responsibilities regarding these definitions—something a standard boilerplate will never do.
We aren’t advocating starting from scratch for your proposals– that’s unrealistic with the time frame account managers are asked to turn around their SOWs, especially when you want to be competitive in your delivery. However, mistakes tend to happen when we’re in a hurry and creating proposals and SOWs at the last minute.
Those problems are nothing compared to this…
One of the biggest problems with boilerplate SOWs is they don’t get the sales engineers and sales reps on the same page. Without the specific needs of the customer clearly outlined, there’s no way to foster good communication about the project within the team. This leaves a lot of room for error, such as omitting underlying and dependent technology, missing the mark on the business problems you’re trying to solve, and missed opportunities to go above and beyond with the solution.
The mistakes don’t stop with the scope of work. They keep coming during the implementation, turning into a nightmare for your project management team. This could come from an inappropriate or misconfigured solution, or even create a misunderstanding of the environment in which your team will be working. The processes and directors involved won’t be in place, meaning your team might not have access to the areas they need to work in; the Windows platform might be wrong or out of date, or underlying technology might need to be replaced.
A boilerplate proposal will never go deep enough into the customer’s project and environment to prevent these issues, and the costs associated can be extreme—mostly because implementation engineers are expensive. If they’re waiting for access to an area to do an install, someone is paying for that time. It’s either you or the customer, and neither is ideal.
But there’s light at the end of the scope of work tunnel.
The solution is to implement an application like CorsPro’s SalesDoc Architect to create scopes of work that are completely customized for each individual proposal. It starts with standardized questions that the account manager must ask based on the technology and issues the customer is describing. These questions are not optional—they are required for the rep to generate a SOW. The entire qualification process has to be completed in order to move forward with the project.
This ensures that the technology is the correct solution for the customer’s issues, and that the account reps and sales engineers are on the same page. It eliminates the need for many discussions between the account rep and customer. You complete the prescribed qualification process and you will have the information you need for a detailed and complete scope of work
The most important part is to clearly communicate with the customer—outlining who is responsible for every step of the process and providing a comprehensive idea of what technologies are (and are not) included, as well as necessary prerequisites like upgrades, versions, and even access to your equipment.
One of the best benefits is that CorsPro allows you to complete this very detailed SOW in a short period of time with little room for error. It ensures that your team is able to deliver a unified and painless experience so you can focus on the customer solution and providing the business outcomes your customers need.