Some call it Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ). Others simply refer to it as their quotation process. Whatever terminology your organization uses, how quotations are managed by sales, shared with customers, and converted into paying orders is a critical process for companies large and small.
And despite so much digital transformation progress in many areas, the quotation process is still under-optimized (or just plain bad) at many organizations.
In this post, we’ll examine the 3 most common CPQ pain points and provide strategies for improvement. And if this topic is interesting to you, check out our new eBook that provides even more tips on enhancing your CPQ process.
Pain Point #1: Salespeople need to jump from system to system and manually compile the information needed to create the quote
Salespeople’s time is precious. The more time they spend manually gathering data, the less time they can spend reaching out to new prospects or upselling and cross-selling existing customers. Often working in Excel spreadsheets that are not backed up and rely on fragile formulas, salespeople have to pull product configuration data from one system, then pull customer information from their CRM, while consulting a different spreadsheet containing a price list, and often move on to even more disparate data sources before they’re finished.
Not only is this inefficient and a poor use of time, all that jumping around and compiling data manually from different sources can easily introduce costly errors. Yet this is the status quo in many sales organizations at all company sizes. There has to be a better way, right?
The Solution: build an application that integrates with relevant systems, automating the process of quote creation
For many organizations, even those with large IT departments or those that develop software themselves, integrating their PLM, CRM, ERP, order management and other financial systems directly is not an easy task. Instead, large enterprises like Siemens are finding success with building low-code applications that sit on top of these legacy systems like an agile layer, pushing and pulling data as needed to automatically compile a quote. And as Siemens found, by building on a low-code development platform like Flowfactory, it’s fast and cost-effective – meaning you can solve your quotation process challenges in weeks, not months or years.
Pain Point #2: Discounts aren’t sufficiently tailored, leaving money on the table
It’s true: pricing is both an art and a science. But the science part should be fairly easy to establish, right? Wrong. There’s the master price list, regional price list, volume discounts, and other types of discounts to take into account – all of which need to be approved by management.
When it’s too complicated or time-consuming to weigh all these factors and calculate pricing that is perfectly suited for a customer, salespeople may take the path of least resistance and offer a larger discount than the situation calls for. Who can blame them? Time is money – and margins suffer one way or the other, either in wasted sales resources or prices that are too low.
The Solution: build an application that automatically generates tailored pricing, protecting margins and optimizing sales resources
When you take control of pricing by developing your own custom CPQ application, you no longer have to wonder if you’re appropriately optimizing your margins. Low-code CPQ apps can automatically reference pricing data wherever it’s stored, and use information stored in your CRM, ERP and PLM to include regional pricing and any special discounts. After it calculates the perfect price, it can automatically route it for management approval, vastly streamlining the process and allowing salespeople to get a quote in front of their customer sooner.
Pain Point #3: Quotes that are inaccurate, take too long to receive, and / or look unprofessional hurt the customer experience
Whether you like it or not, quotes are an extremely important part of the customer experience. For new customers, they are one of the first touchpoints, potentially setting the stage for the whole relationship. If quotes were always accurate, ready quickly, and looked great, this wouldn’t be a pain point. In reality, of course, this is often not the case.
Due to the large number of systems salespeople pull from manually (as covered in pain point #1), it’s all too easy for errors, both large and small, to creep into quotes. Whether it’s the wrong product configuration (somehow a salesperson puts together a product package that could never be sold, for example!) or inaccurate pricing or customer data, these sorts of errors make customers think twice about working with you.
Quotes that come across too slowly run a double risk. First, if a customer solicits quotes from multiple vendors, as long as your pricing is fair and product is good, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want your quote to come in first, giving you that leading edge. If your quote is received last, the customer may have already made up their mind – and committed to another vendor. Secondly, quotes that take too long to produce may send your customer the signal that your company is generally slow to react and unresponsive – another deal breaking first impression.
Finally, there’s a reason that salespeople go into sales, not graphic design. Even with well-designed templates from marketing, it can be hard to produce quotes that are consistently on-brand and look appealing to customers. Yet as mentioned earlier, quotes are a key brand touchpoint and can influence a customer’s overall perception of a brand and its products.
The Solution: build an application that automatically avoids errors, is ready in minutes, and looks professionally designed every time
A custom application, developed in collaboration between business users and IT using a premier low-code platform, can safeguard the customer experience, ensuring excellence at every step. By automatically checking with all the relevant systems, errors are a thing of the past. Seamless integrations compile quotes in seconds, and management approvals only take a few minutes more. And the final output can be automatically generated and inserted into a template designed by marketing – all without the salesperson needing to lift a finger.
As you can see, it is possible to take control of your quotation management, delighting your customers and salespeople in the process. It all starts with taking a more creative – and rewarding – approach to solving your CPQ challenges: custom low-code app development.
Learn more in our new eBook
"Low-code for tailored pricing and quotation applications"