The end of the year is so often a time for reflection, and if you run your own business, it’s smart to make good use of that time! We’re no exception, either: at the end of last year, Team Upswept looked at some of our internal operations, set new goals, and began brainstorming on how we might reach them.
As one indicator of success, we zoomed in on our creative proposals. In 2017, we had an acceptance rate that we felt pretty good about. But, end-of-year goal setting isn’t about maintaining the status quo, and we wanted to put some of the same problem-solving tools that we use on client projects to work internally. So we wondered, what would it take to push that acceptance rate even higher? We made it our goal to have 25% more accepted proposals in 2018, and then took a deep dive into how our processes could better support that goal.
Process Improvement Process
- Reality Check! We asked ourselves: What’s going on here now? What’s working well? and What parts are sticky? We didn’t have any significant complaints with the proposal process, but saw that a fair number of those who didn’t sign with us opted out on the basis of budget alone. We also knew we wanted to feel more in control of the process once we shared proposals with prospective clients, rather than being at the mercy of others to give us an answer — or not.
- Define Success. It was important to note that we wanted more than to just increase our acceptance rate — our focus was also on meeting and signing more of the type of clients we want to work with, and who want to work with us. We also wanted a more efficient process overall, and one that was well-defined and consistently repeatable for all team members, current and future.
- Identify Opportunities to Refine Thoughtfully. Once we identified pain points and visualized our desired results, it was time to make a plan! In addition to researching how other businesses handle initial consultations and proposals, we talked about what changes seemed appealing to make, what we could implement with relative ease, and how we thought those changes could impact the process and outcome. Having an open discussion helped us make the changes that served both our clients and our own core values.
- Run the Experiment. With an updated workflow in place that touched the entire proposal lifecycle, we tried it out, and logged data on each proposal we created and shared with potential clients.
- Iterate + Progress. Now that the proposal lifecycle felt more like a practice rather than an inflexible series of steps, we continued to refine our language, and took a more customized approach to the process for each client within the new framework.
The Fruits of Our Labors
Our new iterative strategy helped us provide more personalized communication and make deeper connections, which both felt good and helped reach our goal. In 2018, Team Upswept wrote fewer total proposals, but those proposals were overwhelmingly for all-good-fit prospective clients. Our project proposals were also more information-rich, visually-appealing and user-friendly. Best of all, our acceptance rate increased by over 75%, smashing our original goal of 25%. This feels like an appropriate moment to toot our own horns just a little. 🎉
2019, Coming At You!
Team Upswept is committed to solving problems and making things better — that means using an adaptive approach and continual refinement, not only in welcoming and working with new client partners, but also in our internal ops as well. With Anna’s arrival as our new Online Marketing Maven, we’re energized at the prospect of applying our Process Improvement Process to our social media and e-mail marketing services in 2019!
What are some of your business goals for 2019? We’d love to help you reach them with smart, beautiful design. There’s still time to get on our calendar for next year, so give us a shout!