Avoiding paper burnout with automated sales document creation

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Proposals, quotes, contracts, reports and updates: the documentation that pulls salespeople away from their customers and into their offices. Now a startup wants to make that simpler for B2B professionals.

Pandadoc is a new software solution that claims it can automate all the content collateral sales departments are required to produce, monitor and update. The software is stacked on top of CRM and customer service suites such as Salesforce, Wendesk, Base, Zoho and Pipeliner. The customizable templates are used to build a microsite from the data pulled from the CRM and customer services. The link is automatically emailed to the customer.

Built-in analytics of customer responses and reviews are available to sales staff so they can review which sections of the report the customers actually reviewed. Electronic signature capabilities seal the legal implications of reporting.

The software is part of a B2B software trend Altos Ventures calls the Do-it-For-Me Revolution (DIFM).

“DIFM combines technology automation with specialized labor to deliver a complete solution to a business problem,” a blog post from the firm reads. “It’s as much about people-powered customer service as it is about code-powered efficiency.” Early last week Altos announced it was, with a group that included TMT Investments, investing $5 million in the San Francisco-based, Belarus-founded company.

Investors are increasingly interested in software that works in conjunction with existing tools, like Pandadoc. Such tech is meant to help create an end-to-end solution that addresses the needs of enterprises, including B2B concerns, to manage their businesses processes through automation.

Solutions like Pandadoc, if used effectively, require a minimum of training and reduce the amount of time sales staff has to dedicate to administrative tasks.

“Small businesses have complex needs, such as payments, accounting, payroll, benefits, tax, inventory and scheduling,” says the Altos Ventures Blog. “Yet most small business owners have neither the time nor skill to learn another software tool.”

While Pandadoc has captured the imaginations and money of start-up investors, and features a unique focus on sales reporting, it is not a segment of software without competition. There are plenty of options for B2B enterprises concerned with process automation to test out in conjunction with their existing suites.

Major players, including giants like HP, have also been speeding up the development of business process automation tools including document process automation. Tinderbox has released its own proposal automation solution in addition to its sales presentation and contract generation products. Readsoft from Lexmark offers invoicing, surveys and CRM among other solutions. Management and presentation of end user analytics is always part of the package.

The new focus on document process automation is not a surprise to industry watchers. More than a year ago, Document Strategy, a portal for enterprise document, content and information strategies, predicted that document automation solutions would become more visible.

“We also expect to witness more business document automation and optimization tools that are oriented toward specific vertical and horizontal opportunities,” their blog post on the subject read.

Standalone solutions, as well as template layers that work in conjunction with existing enterprise tools, are readily available for testing and training.

Pandadoc has released a series of video tutorials for beta-testers:

Photo via Flickr, Creative Commons

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Kate Baggott

Kate Baggott

Kate Baggott is the Managing Editor of B2BNN. Her technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun and the Bay Street Bull. She is the author of the short story collections Love from Planet Wine Cooler and Dry Stories. Links to recently published pieces can be found at www.katebaggott.com