I recently attended the Accelerate conference held by Apttus and had the pleasure of participating in an intriguing panel on the Quote-to-Cash discipline and best practices for sales, legal and revenue management professionals. The panel consisted of leaders in the aviation and semiconductor industries, with discussion revolving around their ability to turn the complexity of their businesses to their advantage. That is, they have mastered complex processes in order to sell very high value products in ways that create more distance between their companies and their competitors.
For instance, one semiconductor firm makes its living by bidding on deals to manufacture the unique designs of customers. No deal or design-win is the same, so the firm must be very nimble, responsive and attentive to technical details when working on opportunities. Another panelist offers very complex services agreements to customers, representing a significant share of their business.
As the panel participants spoke, it became apparent that even in the most sophisticated industries, getting in front of customers and honing in on their individual needs is instrumental in growing sales – including bringing in more clients, closing more deals and increasing wallet share. CSO Insights’ recent research supports this:
The big question is: how does a sales organization make this happen consistently, and successfully reach the right people, start the right dialogues, create great sales experiences, and accelerate sales cycles?
The answer is to tackle issues surrounding people, processes and technology by ensuring that the selling face of a company is professional, credible and knowledgeable, and focused on constantly impressing influencers and decision makers. It is imperative to ensure that sales people have all the resources at hand to excel in following client’s buying processes, along with the ability to educate clients, qualify requirements, align products and services to the client’s needs, and handle questions and objections.
A big step toward this is the automation of the supporting processes that sales professionals rely on in sales cycles. For example, enabling sales engineers to quickly produce configurations of products and tailored pricing upon request allows sales to concentrate on how to communicate the value of what is being offered, as well as to appear highly responsive and efficient.
Automating procedures around governance and approvals can be equally fruitful. With design processes in the semiconductor industry, proprietary information often has to be exchanged between companies. One firm automated the certification of prospects, saving time in dealing with administrative tasks such as the processing of non-disclosure
agreements, allowing all parties to move forward in the sales process and get down to business.
Aesynt, a provider of medical robots and automation for dispensing medications, is one such successful example of how automation decreases sales process time and increases time spent in face-to-face interactions. The company automated much of the preparation work around configure-to-order processes for its equipment, freeing up considerable time for its sales force to pursue quality interactions with clients. The results were impressive, with 30 percent more face time with clients gained, a 2% increase in win rates, as well as 35% increase in average deal size.
Research from CSO Insights has shown that some complacency has been setting in, after a few good years with the economy. However, stakeholder expectations seem to always rise, and good times can sour in the not so far off future. As Meredith Schmidt, Senior Vice President of Global Revenue Operations at Salesforce, emphasized at the Accelerate conference, processes and ways of doing business should be constantly challenged.
To summarize, the key take away from the panel at the Accelerate conference on Quote-to-Cash is that regardless of the industry, types of goods or services being sold, or health of the market, freeing up time for sales teams to get in front of their clients and arming them to ensure the highest quality conversations will fundamentally move the dial on sales.
Be sure to watch the full Accelerate session, featuring myself, King Ou of GLOBALFOUNDRIES, and Rick Grubb of GE Aviation.