Show me a salesperson who craves more administration and I’ll show you someone who won’t hit their target. Admin is an anathema to most salespeople. Trying to avoid doing lots of admin might be one of the main reasons they moved into sales in the first place.
1) Rekeying Information
Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) is generally integrated with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. So, it’s straightforward for all account information, names and addresses, etc., to be passed seamlessly from CRM to CPQ. In return, once the deal is in a CPQ system, the products, prices and status of the deal can be automatically synced back into the CRM. This reduces the need for careful updating of two separate systems, and it also reduces errors.
In most organizations, forecasting is frequently dealt with in a whole team meeting where each person in turn states what deals they’re bringing in this week or month, and the value of them. It’s often necessary to treat forecasting like this so that a sales manager can inspect the deals and make their own judgment on whether they’ll really close, or not. I’ve seen this process reduced significantly in organizations that are disciplined in the adoption of CPQ. By putting the detail of a deal into a CPQ system and seeking approvals for non-standard elements in advance, salespeople and managers are more collaborative throughout a deal’s lifecycle, building confidence in it or challenging it in a more productive way. If the customer requirements change, all systems get updated and managers have more confidence in the data in the system. It’s a more straightforward process all round.
3) Quote/Proposal Creation
Of course, a CPQ system will offer a major reduction in the administration required to generate a quote or proposal document. All deal information can be used in well-branded templates, allowing the time taken to create an accurate proposal to be reduced from perhaps days, to minutes. A sales person can spend their limited time crafting a personalized cover letter that will have impact. Their time is better spent than collating details of the product or service, or searching around for the prices and facts of a deal.
4) Automated Approvals
I've mentioned before the beneficial effect on approvals that CPQ can bring. For many salespeople, chasing people to say ‘yes’ to a deal is a time-consuming and unnecessary overhead. This can mean returning to the office to find people who are hiding behind voicemail or not responding to emails. Having a transparent and automated approval mechanism can highlight when approves are holding up deals. It can also breed a culture of support for salespeople if implemented correctly.
5) Order Processing
Finally, once the salesperson has gotten the customer to say ‘yes’ and sign the order, they then have the challenge of getting the order processed. Without CPQ, this can be a manual system. It’s just not right when you have to prepare internal order paperwork with more information and double check that everything is correct, when what you really you should be drinking champagne to celebrate! A CPQ system that is integrated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or order management can provide all the information that the downstream systems require…. fully validated, error free, and all at the press of a button.
Overall, the streamlining of administration and moving it away from frontline sales can only be a good thing for an organization. I’ve heard sales people refer to themselves as ‘the highest paid admin clerk,’ which is both sad and frustrating. Take the tasks away, systemize them, automate them and let CPQ free your salespeople to sell.
What are you doing to help unburden your salespeople from excess administration?
* Originally published on walpolepartnership.com.