December 20 by Tom Banton

The job of Sales is to sell. The job of sales technology is to help Sales sell. The tricky part is not only deciding which technologies are going to help Sales, but how they should be integrated into the sales process. At Apttus, we are often talking to companies who have decided that a quoting solution is the right technology, but the next question always seems to be – should the quote be created and managed inside a CRM system like Salesforce, in a standalone system, or inside the enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool.

I have a very strong opinion about this, and hope that after you see why I have this opinion that you agree. I believe the quote belongs inside the CRM solution. Here are the three sales truths I have used to develop my opinion:

Quoting in Salesforce: 3 Top Sales Truths

Sales Truth #1: The company that can prepare and deliver the best quote first often wins the businesses

If you believe this to be true, then you will likely see that:

  • Selling starts with a lead and is needed once an opportunity is identified, both of which are done by sales inside Salesforce. Why move data from Salesforce, which the sales person already knows how to use, to an ERP, creating risk of inaccuracies and potential for delays?
  • Quoting is often needed quickly, per the customer’s request. It’s critical the sales rep can get an accurate quote out fast. Being tied to financial and manufacturing systems can greatly increase the time to quote.
  • Manufacturing configuration solutions even cloud-based ones typically require extensive coding to build maintain and modify. Sales configuration solutions that are inside CRM can be modified using a point and click model. It is then possible to pass all the information required from a sales configuration system into a manufacturing (or fulfillment) system to process all the necessary back office requirements.
  • Sales need the flexibility to present quotes in multiple formats and in multiple variations as quickly as possible. This functionality is often not part of ERP solutions.

Sales Truth #2: What you need to win the business today may not be what you need to win the business tomorrow

If you believe this to be true, then you will likely see that:

  • In today’s world of acquisitions and mergers, growing companies must often add new products—or whole new product lines—to their catalog. Acquired companies will most likely not be on the same ERP system as your company initially, so having a common, global, sales platform allows for quicker adoption of new product lines and sales departments. Salesforce (and partners) integrate with multiple ERP platforms, so it’s increasingly quick and easy to adopt state-of-art quoting solutions.

Sales Truth #3: Sales Success Requires Clear Processes

If you believe this to be true, then you will likely see that:

  • A sales person often joins an organization with an established process with long existing tools. An example I frequently see is a sales rep who prefers creating a quote in Excel. Forcing them to learn how to use an ERP system and a CRM is likely not a viable path to success if getting a quote out the door is a top priority. Instead, allow them to utilize the CRM system that already contains their data, and connect it with the Excel sheet where they want to create their quote. See X-Author for CPQ
  • Getting a quote done effectively requires timely communication. Enterprise collaboration tools, like Salesforce Chatter, enable sales teams to collaborate about a lead, opportunity, or quote, all while remaining in Salesforce. It’s important to utilize a quoting tool that can ‘talk’ with the collaboration tool used by sales. ERP solutions typically lack this integration and ability. See Apttus X-Author Chatter

Again, let’s go back to how this started. Sales job is to sell. Our job here at Apttus is to help you sell, while keeping IT expenses in check. If your goal is to win more business today and win business in the future the answer to the question ‘Where to quote?’ has to be Salesforce and has to include using 100% native Quote-to-Cash solutions.

Let me know if you agree, or if you can think of other reasons quoting should be inside the CRM.

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