Companies spend big bucks on customer relationship management (CRM) systems. In fact, Gartner forecasts CRM software revenue will reach $23.9 billion this year. The CRM umbrella is wide. It includes everything from customer service and support to marketing and sales. It’s a fairly broad category, but across the board automation is a critical component. Whether its help desk, email marketing or inventory control, automation enables businesses to streamline the lifecycle and improve the customer relationship.
The opportunities to improve CRM seem endless and there is a lot of talk about where CRM is heading. I agree that mobility, the Internet of things and e-commerce will be big drivers for CRM investment. Outside of these high-level drivers, I think that we’ll also see more CRM investment in niche sales automation tools that live outside the CRM tab for opportunity management, which centers on generating a qualified lead and handing him off to sales.
Strategic investment in tools that address the last stretch of the lifecycle will be where the rubber meets the road for increasing profitability of the customer relationship, particularly for organizations selling complex products and services.
One such tool is configure, price and quote (CPQ). CPQ software boosts CRM by automating part of the sales process that is repetitive, time-consuming and prone toerrors that leave money on the table. To give you an idea of how CPQ software can streamline the quoting process through automation, here’s a step-by-step look at how our Model N CPQ solution works:
• Lead comes into CRM system
• Sales rep accepts the lead and is ready to generate a quote
• Rep launches Model N CPQ from the sales opportunity in CRM
• Rep uses Model N CPQ to configure the quote
• Model N CPQ automatically guides rep through process according to rules and configurations
• Quote is generated and attached to opportunity
• Quote is automatically routed for approval if necessary, which is determined by terms
• Once approved, quote is released to customer
• Once sale closed, CRM creates customer record and billing info
• Aberdeen reports that B2B sales organizations that use CPQ software to streamline their quoting process achieve higher proposal volume, larger deal size and shorter sale cycles. The Aberdeen report is definitely worth a read; you can sign-up for a free registration to read the report.
It’s important to understand that CPQ software simplifies quoting and boosts CRM, but not all CPQ software is created equal. The most important aspect of any CPQ software is that people actually use it. This means the solution you choose needs to be simple and user-friendly. When you start looking at making an investment in CPQ ask a few crucial questions:
1. Is it native to my CRM?
2. Can it quote products, services and subscriptions together?
3. Will I need to write code every time there’s a change to quoting rules?
4. Can supervisors approve quotes in real-time?
You get one shot to earn your sales team’s acceptance of a new application and they’re a finicky group. Do your due diligence—compare solutions, talk to users and trial the software. After all, any investment in CRM and sales automation tools that don’t get used is just more money down the drain.