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Stop PDFing Around With Your Business

What would you do if someone at work needed to share a document with you and handed you a floppy disk? How about a CD? Or even a USB?

Would you be impressed? Would you think it was the best way they could have done it? Would you think to yourself "well hey, now this is clearly a professional at work"?

No. You'd be confused as to why on earth they didn't just send you the link, right? Maybe even a little disappointed, questioning their overall competence in what they do, dismissing the whole situation as ridiculous.

So, if you'd feel that way about a colleague delivering a document using outdated technology, you surely wouldn't make the same mistake with a client. Except, you sent out an email with a PDF attachment just yesterday.

Congratulations, your client is... indifferent?

Right about now, you're probably wondering what's so bad about sending a PDF. Or you understand it's a problem, but you're not sure what the alternative is. And everyone does it, right?

Well, a lot of people don't go to the dentist on time as well, but that doesn't mean you should follow their example. If you do, you'll end up with a rotten tooth, which is exactly what a PDF is to your business.

Think about the kind of image you want to project. You want clients to be excited about your offer. Impressed even. You want them to feel like they've made the right choice by going to you instead of a competitor.

No matter how well you format it, a PDF just doesn't get you those results. At best, your client is indifferent because it's yet another PDF attachment in their inbox. At worst, you've now annoyed them and they're starting to question their decision to work with you. In any case, not the ideal way to start a business relationship.

Your clients don't want a PDF

Numbers don't lie. Year in and year out, the number of clients who want a PDF goes down. We know because we analyze the data.

nobody wants a PDF

In 2022, as much as 88% of clients didn't want a PDF. For perspective, that number was 45% in 2018, meaning it almost doubled in the span of only four years.

Nobody has the power to see into the future, but you don't have to be psychic to see that the PDF trend is on its way out. And it's about time.

Doing business like it's the 90s

PDFs have been around since 1993, and it shows. Just think about all the things we have today that were either just starting out or simply weren't available back then.

Buying anything online was seen as risky, if you even had the patience to wait for that dial-up connection to kick in. Your phone had those keys you'd press three times to write the letter F. If you wanted to get anywhere, you'd break out your paper map or ask for directions and hope for the best.

In this context, a PDF doesn't look out of place. But today? Today we've got better options for all of the above, including document sharing.

PDFs are making you look outdated

We live in the age of same-day deliveries, wireless internet access, and phones that are essentially tiny computers we carry around. Convenience, user-friendliness, and on-demand everything is what we expect. It's become the norm, not the exception.

So how do PDFs fit into all of this? Glad you asked - they don't.

Opening a PDF on your phone? Good luck

Trying to read a PDF document on anything but a computer is an exercise in patience. The text is too small. Zoom in, pan, and scroll just to make out the words.

Switch between portrait and landscape mode, maybe you'll get through the page sooner. Oops, you just accidentally skipped a paragraph.

58% of your clients open proposals on their phones. They are having this exact experience every time you send them a PDF.

mobile-friendly beats pdf

Why put your clients through all that when you could be sending them web-based, responsive documents through Better Proposals? They click on a unique link and the size automatically adapts to their screen size. They don't accidentally miss anything and you start off on the right foot by providing them with a great experience all around.

The PDF editing nightmare

New products, deal updates, pricing changes, new client information - all of that is common no matter the kind of business you're in. But here's the thing about PDFs: once created and shared, making edits becomes a nightmare.

You're stuck dealing with outdated information until you go through the process of creating an entirely new document. Chances are, you're doing it in Word, then converting to PDF, and then sending it again.

The more frequent the changes and the more people involved, the more frustrating and time-consuming it gets. Besides slowing you down, the added frustration factor makes you more likely to make a mistake.

As it usually goes, you'll probably notice it only when you've already converted the file to PDF. That is, if you notice at all. With Better Proposals, document editing and updating is as easy as logging in and making necessary changes. You don't even have to worry about saving them because that's automated for you.

Want to collaborate in real time? Check. Lock some content to prevent changes or save it into a library so you don't have to look for it and paste it in later? Check and check. User permissions, pre-send approvals, and performance reports? Check, check, and check.

better proposals reports

Static, boring, underwhelming

One major drawback of using PDFs for your business is the lack of interactive content. You're limited to text and images, which can make it difficult to really capture your client's attention.

These days, people expect dynamic and immersive experiences. With a PDF, you're giving them a static and boring one.

Luckily, you don't have to. Better Proposals helps you make your documents stand out. Add dynamic transitions, embed videos, and give your clients choices with interactive pricing tables.

interactive pricing tables beat pdf

Attach, send, and hope for the best

Once you've sent that PDF, you have no idea what's going on. It could have ended up in spam, the client could be reading it right now - it's anyone's guess.

You are left in the dark about whether people are actually reading your PDFs or simply skimming through them. You have no way of knowing which sections they find most interesting or if they navigate away from certain parts entirely.

What's more, you can't measure the effectiveness of your calls-to-action within a PDF. Are clients clicking on links? Are they filling out forms? Who knows.

On the other hand, you could have all this information and then some with Better Proposals. You get notified every time a client receives, opens, forwards, downloads, or signs your document.

document tracking beats pdf

In addition to that, you'll see exactly how long they've spent reading each section. And if you want to take it a step further, integrate live chat. That way, you can interact with clients in real time.

Print, sign, scan, repeat

If you're sending a contract, a proposal, or a sign-off to get your client's signature on it, a PDF is a terrible choice. The most common way this usually goes down is this:

  • You send the PDF
  • The client opens the PDF and realizes they have to sign
  • The client prints the PDF
  • The client signs the printed PDF in ink
  • The client scans the paper
  • The client sends the scan of the PDF back to you

If this looks like an awful lot of work the client has to go through just to start doing business with you, that's because it is. Signing a PDF is a lot of hassle even if your client does it digitally. However, most don't because getting a signature certificate to sign PDFs isn't a walk in the park either.

What if we told you the entire process could be shortened into two simple steps? With Better Proposals, you send the document, the client signs the document. That's it.

All you need to do is add a signature block, all the client needs to do is type in their name. It's all legally binding, so there's no good reason to keep doing it the hard way.

Better Proposals signature block

Stop PDFing around

Every time you send a PDF to a client, you're making it difficult for them to do business with you. Leave the past in the past and get on board with web-based, responsive documents. Your clients will love you for it.

Admitting you need help is the first step

The second one is signing up for Better Proposals. The first 14 days are on us.

Patricija Šobak's profile image
Patricija Šobak puts her talent in spotting questionable grammar and shady syntax to good use by writing about various business-related topics. Besides advocating the use of the Oxford comma, she also likes coffee, dogs, and video games. People find her ability to name classic rock songs only from the intro both shocking and impressive.