Like any story, the quote-to-cash process has a beginning, middle, and end—though evolving sales channels have added steps before and after. However, as you progress from almost-customer to contract to customer, it’s easy to see your potential leak away.
Often, without the right tools for the job, you might lose a customer before the process begins to take hold. In this, the quote-to-cash process begins with its own sub-process—configure, price, quote. Without the right information in the right hands, deals can fall through before they even begin.
As we continue our series on the importance of CRM in the organization, we would today like to explore the role that such a solution may have in preventing loss.
Miss any of our recent blogs? Check out No Longer a Two-Department Game—Going Beyond Marketing and Sales Alignment and The R is for Relationships—Why CRM Makes This a Reality.
The Configure-Price-Quote Process: The Beginning of Quote-to-Cash
Without the right information in the right hands, things go wrong. If you’re in the marketing space, you already know the concept of the funnel and the ways you can lose your lead before it’s passed on to sales. However, after your lead is qualified, becomes an opportunity, and gets closer to the sale, there are still ways for things to go awry. Here are just a few leakage points to overcome.
Configuration: Building the Perfect Combination for Your Customer
Configuration represents the combination of products, components, and services to build the next two steps. For example this could be something as simple as building out a distribution order—customer needs 500 of one item, 200 of another, and 50 of a different one. It could also represent a complex manufacturing process with specific needs, or could be denote the specs of industrial equipment.
Naturally, there are many ways to lose a sale. Stockouts or lack of raw materials, promising something in the marketing process that the manufacturing team can’t deliver, or an inability to deliver a service like installation.
To address this, companies need to understand how customer has gotten to this stage, have a basic understanding of the customer needs, and make the product configuration process easy.
Price: Negotiate and Deliver a Competitive Price
The next step in the CPQ process is often the easiest place to lose a potential customer. You’re probably not the only player at this point, and this stage represents the adjustments you need to make. Can you offer a discount? Can you deliver incentives? Can you match prices? It pays to be in the know through this process, and your price should be built on past successes.
Again, there are a variety of ways to lose your sale. Often, if your company is relying on manual, outdated processes, you may not have the right information at hand or you may not know the limitations of the customer. Salespeople should be able to rely on the data from previous sales, the necessary price to ensure margins, and the tolerance of the customer.
Speed and accuracy is the name of the game. If it’s taking days of emails to understand pricing strategies or there’s a hiccup in the pass from configure to price, you’re making it easy to lose a sale.
Quote: Putting the Offer in Writing
You have the estimates, you have the necessary components to offer, and you have a reasonably accurate price you’re ready to offer. Now it’s time to get specific. Quotes should include everything pertinent to the deal—texts, data sheets, drawings, and prices (with discounts and promotions).
Again, like the pricing process, it pays to be quick on your feet. Speed is important—if the quote is what was expected and delivered quickly, it’s more likely than not a customer will be on board. However, accuracy matters too. Did you make a promise you couldn’t keep—one that will cost you money to fix? Did you miss a decimal point? A poorly calculated percentage or a product you’re going to have to rush in to fulfill is going to cost you money or even the deal itself.
Any time you’re relying on hand-keyed information—especially at this phase—your potential for error gets more likely. And costlier.
B2B Ecommerce: CPQ at the Customer’s Fingertips
In addition to traditional methods, you also have modern opportunities to gain, keep, and unfortunately lose customers. B2B Ecommerce has changed the way companies get to cash. However, understanding how to use this to your advantage is easy, as the same leakage can happen if you don’t keep your business connected.
B2B Ecommerce: Streamline the Process—But Don’t Lose Your Lead
Naturally, one of the most common ways that businesses have streamlined the quote to cash process is through the use of B2B Ecommerce. Configuration? It’s done through a website. Pricing? Provided transparently. Quote? Ready to go without interaction from a salesperson.
Ecommerce in the B2B world has evolved to take over more and more of the steps that exist. That said, when a customer does enter the buy phase, the person they speak with needs any pertinent information. Leaks can occur when your salespeople aren’t informed of the customer needs and have to backtrack in the transaction. This leak could harm customer relationships and cause you to lose a sale.
How Integrated, Functional, Cloud-Based CRM Makes this a Reality
The beauty of the sales process is just that: It’s a process. Attention, interest, decision, action. But it’s on you to ensure that this works out. Getting from attention to interest is on your marketing team—turning a website visitor into a contact, and a contact into a lead.
Information needs to flow through this entire process. In today’s sales process, where buyers are 80-90% of the way through the process before they speak with a salesperson, these buyers expect you to know their needs.
Modern CRM enables marketing to pass the lead to sales. Integrated CRM connects your system to necessary software including ERP, Manufacturing Management, Inventory Management, and more. With the right information in hand about the customer and the right information in hand about what you offer, you can mitigate leakage.
Integrating your CRM with the rest of the business ensures you can easily configure a solution, leverage data to provide accurate pricing, and generate a quote without hassle.
Learn More: CRM Software, Customized and Delivered by MIBAR
Businesses of all sizes have turned to CRM software to track, organize, and improve their customer relationships. But those who connect this powerful application (or select a CRM built into the ERP) get even more from their efforts and investments.
As a leading provider of business management software in the New York Metro, we understand how to help your business do more with ERP and CRM solutions customized for your unique business. Get to know more about our company, the work we do with CRM, and contact us for more information.