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What CPQ Can Really Do For You - No. 3: Better Looking Quotes and Proposals

Andy Pieroux
Founder and Managing Director, Walpole Partnership
In this on-going series of blogs that dive deep into the benefits that CPQ can bring, we've looked at how CPQ can help your salespeople sell faster and how it can give your organization better control of margins.

Now let's consider the 'Q' in CPQ - better looking quotes (and proposals).

When I speak to salespeople about creating quotes and proposals, I always get conflicting stories. All of them value the impact that a well written quote or proposal can have. But, but many also resent the time they spend compiling and crafting a document, rather than being free to focus on relationship building and selling.

The alternative is often to use a template developed by the Marketing department.  However, if it's too prescriptive, it can come across as bland and doesn't reflect the relationship that a salesperson has with their customer.

Added to this, very few salespeople are good designers.  Even if they have those skills, assembling a well-designed document is a time-consuming task.  When salespeople have people to see and targets to hit, corners are often cut.

When I asked our branding agency InnerVisions ID to describe some of the biggest 'crimes against branding' they see in customer facing documents, they told us to watch out for the following.

  • Low-resolution logos and images downloaded from the Internet that pixelate when printed.
  • Old logos or out of date branding still being used after a rebrand.
  • Inconsistent use of branding guidelines.  Or, not having these established in the first place where it’s imperative to keep corporate colors, typefaces and imagery consistent across all output.
  • Incorrect and inconsistent spelling of product names (especially in US/European markets where ‘U’s and ‘S/Z’s are inconsistent. 
  • Poor layout - the main crimes are too much information on one page, or a muddled layout of information.  ‘Whitespace’ is vital so the reader is not overwhelmed.
  • Documents that look 'cobbled together' from many sources - different typefaces, sizes, layouts, even the language used can be inconsistent.

What’s a Salesperson to do?

How can a salesperson create a quote or proposal quickly, without these errors, without copying boilerplate marketing collateral, and with an approach that’s tailored to your customer?

A good CPQ solution will have a comprehensive document composition tool that solves this problem. Administrators can centrally set up templates with guidance from the Marketing department, or an external design agency. All the company branding guidelines and 'official' styled elements can be taken care of. Logos can be correctly placed and accurately rendered. Colors and fonts are precise and the overall look and feel can represent the company in a professional manner.

Salespeople can use this properly designed template to generate a proposal that is unique to both the offer and the customer within the CPQ system with the press of a button. Conditional elements of the template can toggle on or off and this can be based on the content of a deal. For example, marketing information can be included, but only for products and services that are offered in that deal. Sections can be triggered by the salesperson too.  If you know your customer is particularly 'green', you could click to include your company's environmental fact sheet if you think it's relevant.

Data from the deal can also be brought in directly. Often this is a pricing summary or the details of a quote. It's quick and easy to get accurate data, and you don't have to worry about the clash of formats that can occur between spreadsheets and word processors.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, sections of the proposal can be left fully editable by the salesperson. This allows them to add rich-text to proposals, giving them the chance to add cover-letters, executive summaries or any other content where their own style, their relationship and their personal knowledge of the customers situation cannot be replaced by a machine.

By combining the voice and experience of the salesperson with accurate deal data and with corporate branding and content, you end up with a high quality, accurate, and personalized proposal that will meet your salesperson and customer's requirements.

For once you really can 'have your cake and eat it' with quotes and proposals generated by CPQ.

Read the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites report.

* Originally published on walpolepartnership.com




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