Show of hands: Who enjoys managing the process of generating price quotes for customers?
Pricing and quoting can be a thankless task, especially in industries that build complex products, such as manufacturing. For any given project, sales teams typically must coordinate with R&D to create designs, engineering to review feasibility, and finance to weigh profitability and set a price. Only then can sales teams go back to a customer and try to close the deal.
Getting there, however, can be a challenge, thanks to manual handoffs and poor accountability. Cue the potential for unnecessary delays, lost productivity, incorrect pricing, or even lost deals. That goes not just for manufacturing, but also construction, high-technology, services industriessuch as consultingor any other sector in which sales teams must coordinate with internal groups to build price quotes.
Enter automation. By automating the process of generating price quotes, businesses can improve:
- Accuracy: Businesses are less likely to generate incorrect quotes, or fail to pass on materials cost changes, if they automate pricing
- Productivity: Not having to coordinate the groups involved in generating a price quote frees salespeople to chase more deals
- Accountability: Workflow automation and triggers improve collaboration by making it clear who’s required to do which next step, and when
- Efficiency: Any company that wants to grow needs to track the efficiency of every part of its pricing/quoting process, to identify and eliminate any bottlenecks
Cloud CRM Streamlines Existing Processes
Why don’t more businesses already have automated pricing and quoting processes? Simply because in the on-premise CRM software days, such systems had to be built from scratch. Ensuring that the end result met users’ requirements, and getting many of the groups involved to actually use the software, could be challenging.
Cloud CRM, however, includes numerous built-in capabilities and integration with cloud-based platforms, making automation much easier. Determining requirements, creating automated processes and workflow, and testing it all with end users is a rapid processoftentimes requiring just a few weeks, or for quite advanced approaches, perhaps a few weeks more. And if something doesn’t work along the way, tweaks are easy. From a risk standpoint, such projects are a no-brainer.
Salesforce Enables Lightweight Automation
Ditto for project cost. Existing Salesforce users will see almost immediate return on their investment by taking their price-quote spreadsheets and automating them. But we’ve also seen businesses adopt Salesforce largely because of the ease with which they’ll be able to automate price quotes. That reflects the extent to which existing, manual quoting processes too often lead to lost time, productivity, and profit margins for so many companies.
Likewise, any business that wants to get bigger typically needs to increase the number of price quotes it can produce. Without automation, however, it’s extremely difficult to identify which parts of the pricing/quoting process slow down deals, or just need more time. In other words, automation helps organizations track the efficiency of their entire opportunity and quoting process.
Always Present The Latest Pricing
One major benefit of automation, especially for manufacturing concerns, is the ability to automatically update project bids to reflect the latest market price of any materials to be used in the project. For example, one of Cloud Sherpas manufacturing customer uses various metals in many of its projects, but the price of those metals can fluctuate, sometimes wildly.
Whenever that happened previously, a designated employee would distribute a spreadsheet with pricing updates, which salespeople then needed to use to adjust all open quotes. But that was a labor-intensive process, and avoiding mistakes or delays was difficult.
Accordingly, the company worked with Cloud Sherpas to take that spreadsheet and automate it in Salesforce. Now, the employee who manages pricing simply changes the price of materials in Salesforce itself, which automatically updates all relevant quotes, and alerts each account owner about the change. As a result, all salespeople now see only the most up-to-date quotes and correct pricing.
Manage All User Adoption
Making price-quoting automation projects successful, however, requires ensuring that the automation and workflow processes meet the needs of every group involved. Accordingly, such projects must begin by defining which groups have which responsibilities, and at which stage in the quoting process. Also determine participants’ preferences for how they should be alerted along the way.
Sales, for example, might want to see alerts whenever something advances in a workflow, whereas engineering may simply want to log onto the CRM system in the morning and see a list of tasks, queued up based on due dates. Identifying each group’s preferenceswhich are easy to cater to in Salesforcewill go a long way toward ensuring that each everyone involved in generating price quotes stays happy, productive, and invested in the process.
Cloud Sherpas is one of the world’s leading cloud services brokerages and helps businesses adopt, manage and enhance their CRM investment by identifying desired business goals, finding the right tools and technology for the job, and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving the desired business capabilities.