Lurking in your sales quoting process is the monster spreadsheet. It’s big, cumbersome and sometimes unruly. You’re team has been using this manual system to create quotes for so long now that [...]
Lurking in your sales quoting process is the monster spreadsheet. It’s big, cumbersome and sometimes unruly. You’re team has been using this manual system to create quotes for so long now that it’s hard to imagine doing it another way.
The Excel whiz that created your quoting spreadsheet system probably thinks it’s like a hand-built Ferrari engine. He is proud of it, but it’s admittedly complex. Of course this provides some job security because he is likely the only one who can maintain the monster. Your sales people may also be comfortable – very few people like change – even though the manual configure, price and quote process is time-draining and error-prone.
Maintaining the status quo, because your team is used to it, is not always what’s best for your business. Despite being the industry standard for spreadsheets, Excel has clear drawbacks when it comes to creating sales quotes. There are some things Excel simply can’t do for sales users.
1.Setting rules. Adding new rules can be a cumbersome process. The formulas and tables can be very confusing for someone who is not updating the spreadsheets daily. So, generally, a sales department relies on an Excel guru to administer the quoting system and maintain the rules. In many organizations it takes days and lots of testing to get new rules working correctly and to make sure the rest of the rules still work too.
2.Quote approval. A big pain point for many organizations is getting the quotes out the door. Because sales users need to gather information from disparate pricing sheets and input them into the quoting spreadsheets, the organization spends more time on quote approval. Did the rep use the latest pricing sheet? Did the rep correctly select the right combination of options and service plans? Is this a special price request that needs additional approvals? Manual quoting requires manual verification of accuracy and approvals that slow the process.
3.Scalability. As businesses grow, their product and service offerings grow with them. Thus, their quoting spreadsheets keep growing and growing. For complex products and recurring services, manual quoting eventually becomes impossible to sustain while delivering accurate quotes to prospects.
4.Maintenance. Relying on one Excel whiz to maintain your configure, price and quote spreadsheets is a disaster waiting to happen. If the whiz is unavailable or on vacation, then peers will likely struggle and may be unable to figure out the calculations or unlock the spreadsheet to make updates. There is also the risk that your organization may not be able to access your spreadsheets on shared network drives because they were accidentally deleted, not backed up, or the network drive was unavailable.
5.Real-time data. Another downside of the cumbersome, manual quoting process is that you can’t see your sales funnel. Sales managers have little or no visibility into the history of quotes that reps or channel partners send to prospects or what’s in the pipeline. Without some intense custom reporting and an individual dedicated to generating these reports on a regular schedule, you’ll be hard pressed to link your quotes with an opportunity, so you can see value of your deals today.
We understand that sales organizations and administrators can view their Excel system as a security blanket of sorts. But it’s this false sense of security that slows down your quoting process and puts deals at risk. Cloud-based CPQ software can liberate your sales team from the spreadsheet monster, so you can maximize the value of every sale, quickly.
Learn more about what you can do with automated CPQ solutions and how to capture more revenue faster.
You’ve got your company and sales team trained and ready to go with Salesforce.com. You’ve transformed the sales process to have better visibility into your pipeline. Your team can now share data [...]
Albert Einstein said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius— and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.” For me, Einstein’s words [...]
Albert Einstein said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius— and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.”
For me, Einstein’s words capture the spirit of the many attempts made to simplify the sales quoting process. I’d wager that most sales people have worked at more than one organization that has thrown yet another spreadsheet into the mix because “it will make quoting easier.” Did it?
When you sell complex products and services, the last thing you need is a quoting process that adds complexity. Manual quoting, which requires the collection of spreadsheets, product sheets and people to reconcile endless pricing variables, leads to complications and costly mistakes. Eliminating these errors is one of the main reasons that forward-thinking organizations choose to automate their quoting process by adopting a configure, price and quote (CPQ) solution. However, it’s not the only reason.
Beyond accurate quotes, sales users also need to quote faster. Automating CPQ can make configuring a product quick and accurate. Just how simple this will be relies upon the rules engine that drives the CPQ solution. Many rules engines make quoting accurate but also more complex than it needs to be.
Most CPQ solutions on the market today use sequential rules engines as the backbone for their solutions. While they’re intended to be simple, the very nature of sequential rules engines increases complexity for administrators and users. Sequential rules engines rely on an explicitly specified order of rules and rule families. In these deployments, the rule firing sequence is critical to accurate configurations and it requires fully and clearly expressed rules for each product and option. In short, there are more rules to write, test and upkeep.
There is a better way. REVVY CPQ leverages a sophisticated constraint rules engine that minimizes the total number of rules needed to model the configuration. This simplifies the process for administrators and sales users, delivering better results.
Let’s explore a couple ways that REVVY’s constraint rules engine outperforms other rules engines.
(1) Shows what you can do, not what you can’t. Sequential rules engines evaluate rules after an option or product is selected and then allow you to select incompatible or invalid options, which causes sales people to get frustrated, and rightfully so. No one wants to be told after they’ve selected options that the options are not available or not allowed. The REVVY rules engine already indicates in the UI whether a certain option is valid by only showing the valid options, which saves time and prevents errors.
(2) Explains invalid options so you can give customers what they want. Sometimes customers want options and products that invalidate other products or options that they still want. REVVY rules engine allows users to see the cause of invalid options and choices to fix all options that might conflict with what the customer wanted.
(3) Faster response time. Sequential rules engines re-fire all the rules in the same sequence multiple times in an attempt to make up for shortcomings. However, this degrades performance and takes more time. REVVY constraint rules engine detects dependencies and thereby optimizes the time it takes to evaluate all rules. This can as much as half the time it takes to execute results.
It’s not easy to make things simpler. It took genius and courage to develop the REVVY CPQ rules engine. But, it is absolutely worth it. This will make a huge difference for administrators and sales users because simpler for them means better, faster and more effective quotes.
You can learn more about why configuration technology matters and how REVVY constraint-based rules engine outperforms traditional solutions.
When was the last time you wanted MORE risk, when trying to close a deal? Many sales organizations fail to realize that by continuing to employ manual processes for quoting, they are accepting [...]
When was the last time you wanted MORE risk, when trying to close a deal? Many sales organizations fail to realize that by continuing to employ manual processes for quoting, they are accepting unnecessary risk.
A manual process generally incorporates the collection of spreadsheets, product sheets, and then painstakingly building a quote document. Generating this quote involves multiple steps, all of which drain time and resources that could otherwise be used for more selling. The typical process calls for the salesperson to determine the customer’s needs and then relay this information to pricing and sales support staff that generates the quote using spreadsheets. Before the quote goes to the customer, the salesperson must first obtain internal approval from his boss who may review the quote immediately or may sit on it for a couple days, depending on his schedule. Finally, the quote is ready for the customer, or is it?
While a manual approach to quoting may save the company money on software, it falls short in a number of ways that can put closing the deal at risk.
Costly Human Errors
A manual quoting process is a recipe for eroding profits and damaging sales rep credibility. Most sales organizations have a complex combination of products and services that they need to quickly and accurately quote to customers. However, a manual process relies on people taking into account endless pricing variables—products, packaging, bundling, discounts—that sales teams can often misquote. There’s nothing to prevent mistakes other than the human eye catching an error.
There is also missed opportunity in up-selling and cross-selling, as most often the salesperson is not creating the quote in the CRM system. A manual process is cumbersome for the salesperson to work through different scenarios for up-selling and cross-selling complementary products or services.
<>Lost Cycle Time
In the quoting and proposal stage, manual processes are a road block that slows down the sales cycle. There is often more than one price sheet to hunt down and discounting rules can be unclear. Data sheets to support the quote are held in disparate file stores, draining even more time. Product offerings also change constantly and salespeople cannot be expected to be well-informed about a product list containing thousands of SKUs that change daily. Manually configuring the quote to include the correct components requires that salespeople hunt down the right SKUs, verify the components are compatible and confirm that each required component is specified, which adds unnecessary time to the sales cycle.
In addition, each quote must be reviewed and approved to ensure there is not too much discounting and there is enough margin health. The quote cannot be sent to the customer without every item being approved. And, while a quote goes through your internal approvals, the customer is left waiting and your competitors have time to enter a bid of their own.
In short, a manual quoting process not only leaves money on the table, but it also leaves customers feeling less than satisfied. And a potentially unhappy customer is a risk you can’t afford.
Today, there’s something you can do about it. Cloud-based software solutions make it easy to automate the error-prone and lengthy manual process for generating quotes. Automating configure, price and quote (CPQ) processes enables your company to reduce risk and earn more money from new prospects and existing customers.
Your sales department is charged with generating your revenue and it makes sense to improve their efficiencies and make sure every choice they make is correct, compatible and profitable.
Learn more about what solutions like REVVY CPQ can do to automate everything in your quoting process.