Do you have a sales quote process that depends heavily on the experience and knowledge of salespeople? Do they primarily rely on a manual process of consulting Excel spreadsheets or similar data sorting documents?
We’re not saying these types of processes aren’t ever workable, but they do have shortcomings that push some companies toward an automated sales quote process. Automation can be a boon for accuracy, efficiency, and revenue.
How do you know if automating quotes is right for your business? Here’s a concise, step-by-step guide to analyzing your current sales quote process and deciding if adding automation will improve your bottom line.
You likely can come up with an overview description of your current sales quote process. But have you ever dug deep and pinpointed specific bottlenecks and ways to address them? A closer look often reaps significant benefits.
First, ask these three questions:
- Conduct a detailed audit of your quotes. What percentage are 100% accurate? Do certain mistakes recur frequently? For example, do your salespeople properly calculate volume discounts every time?
- How much time do sales managers spend tracking down and reconciling errors?
- Is your sales staff consistently suggesting appropriate add-ons for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities? If you discover mistakes in this area, calculate how much revenue you’re missing.
The final part of your audit should focus on the time spent creating a sales quote. Do not overlook this. Every minute wasted on creating quotes is time away from selling. Interview your salespeople to determine how much time it takes to create a quote. This is also a great opportunity to listen for common challenges and discern patterns that demand solutions.
Step Two: Analyze Solutions
If you want to improve your sales quote process, your choices fall into one of two categories:
- Incremental change to existing methods, or
- An automated solution using better technology.
Incremental change could include an emphasis on better training or creating checklists. Certainly there is nothing wrong with these approaches. But without the support of automating technology, some companies have found real change to be difficult to implement.
An automated option can be the difference maker for effective change that sticks. Why? Because the hard work and calculation necessary for an accurate quote is done automatically, based on the rules you customize.
You are not relying on the tribal knowledge locked in the head of specific team members, or cumbersome spreadsheets. Instead your business rules are automated to ensure every sales quote is accurate.
The solution to automation is a Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) tool. For example, you can:
- Automatically enforce up-to-the-minute pricing rules and product bundling information
- Easily compare sales for similar customers to identify opportunities for increased revenue
- Increase collaboration and knowledge sharing
Step Three: Implement and Measure
Whatever changes you decide to implement, create a list of expected benefits. The more time-bound and measurable these benefits, the better.
If you choose to automate, here are a few ideas to get you started on a tangible benefits list:
- Optimize your margins.
- Save your team time. Track both sales staff and managers. How much less time does your team spend creating quotes? How much time do sales managers gain because they don’t have to follow-up on quoting errors?
- Standardize accountability. Automation serves as a built-in accountability function. Sloppy errors and complicated calculations are reduced or eliminated. Salespeople configure a quote and with a click of a button it is sent to ERP for processing.
- Increase add-on sales. When you automatically set business rules, it means appropriate add-ons are integrated into every quote. This is another area that makes for a simple before and after calculation.
Understand. Analyze. Implement and Measure. CPQ tools provide one of the simplest ways for a sales team to improve quickly and permanently. We offer our own CPQ solution – QuoteQuickly – which is built on the Salesforce CRM.