September 29 by Micah Gerger
Long gone are the days of patient customers willing to wait for a quote. Or, wait for anything for that matter. So it’s not hard to fathom why the business world has been quoting on spreadsheet-based pricing calculators for the last two decades… a few clicks of the mouse and a sales rep has a logically derived price to communicate. But quoting is not just about speed – customers need an accurate configuration of products and services that add value and result in a reliable (and palatable) number at the bottom of the page.
When integrated into one platform, data from customer contracts can be used as a strategic advantage in the quoting process, resulting in a dynamic 1-2 punch. With this in mind, each of the following tactics can play a key role in optimizing the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of your quote-to-cash process.
Use active agreements to automate steps in the quoting process
Data from customer agreements like contract terms, payment terms, products or services that have been purchased and other agreement details can be used to help automate the process of product and service configuration. During amend, upgrade or renew cycles, these details need not be defined a second or third time. Renewal reps can use a standard “Co-Term” button to capture the correct end date from a Master Services Agreement. Or, with a very simple custom button, other agreement data can be auto-populated in a quote to ensure billing details like payment schedule, payment method are correctly defined without a renewal rep needing to take time tracking and entering the correct values. Contract clauses stored on the agreement can also be used to streamline renewals and make pricing adjustments a breeze. Though this seems like an obvious concept, I have yet to see a company fully leverage
existing agreements in this manner.
Synchronize quotes with contract data for guaranteed accuracy
Synchronizing contract data in the quoting process results in more accurate quotes and product configurations which can translate to a smoother provisioning process and happier customers. Depending on your processes, there are a variety of points in time when this synchronization may make sense to initiate but regardless of when it occurs, the benefits are essentially the same.
First, syncing contract details with the quote ensures that the configuration of products and services isn’t in conflict with existing agreements or service orders. Avoiding quotes with duplicate line items, service overlaps or other inaccuracies will save hours in corrective action and prevent costly customer service road bumps. Accuracy in this arena also sets the stage for a smoother transition to provisioning or delivery. Sales operations, product management and other internal customers downstream responsible for validating contracts and configurations of products/services stand to benefit. The result is faster times to value for customers and fewer customer service blips.
Leverage existing agreements to drive larger deals
All of the efficiencies brought by improved speed and accuracy in the quoting process are important benefits of having contract management and quoting integrated on one platform – and they have very clear, direct effects on the bottom line. But quoting is primarily a function of the sales department so how can this integrated platform be used to drive revenue improvements as well? The answer lies in visibility. When a sales rep who understands her customer’s needs can have instant visibility into existing customer assets, service orders and active agreements, she can easily identify gaps and recommend additional products or services to her customer. With the automations and synchronization concepts discussed above, the sales rep also has more time to focus on a customer’s existing portfolio for ways to grow the business. With a streamlined process and enhanced visibility into the full scope of products, services and agreements that are in place with a customer, sales reps are now uniquely positioned to drive bigger deals.
For modern businesses, quoting and contract management processes can no longer be viewed as independent processes. The speed, accuracy and competitive advantages of integrating both those processes on one platform are too great to ignore. Successful integration across business groups, processes and applications is a must so if your organization doesn’t yet have eyes on ways to better integrate, align and adopt a unified quote-to-cash platform. Now is the time.
Posted by Micah Gerger of Statêra on September 28, 2015.
Statêra is a leading business and technology consulting firm. We have completed thousands of successful engagements by delivering the right solutions, delighting our clients, supporting our communities, and by providing interesting and productive careers for our people. Our methods focus on process over platform and talent over technology. We are experts in moving our clients to the cloud, and delivering CRM, web, mobile, collaboration, and custom solutions.