Shouldn’t Quote management be a part of the CRM solution itself? This is a classic question we hear from our customers very often. They are really puzzled when we tell them that an opportunity, to some extent, is the CRM’s final touch point. Once an opportunity is won, it is assumed that it gets converted to an order in another back-end system and then it is processed. But there’s something between these two, which is the quote process.
Agreed! Not all businesses use quotes, but at the same time a considerable number of businesses do use quote management and they wonder – between an opportunity and an order, shouldn’t there be a quote step? This is very important for them because this is one of the key sales tools that is being used very often.
You are in front of the customer, sitting across the table, discussing something and expressing interest in certain aspects and then the expression is converted into a soft interest by creating a quote. It then becomes a hard interest when you convert it into an order at a later point of time. But the soft interest phase is something which is very interesting. From the first point in which you create a quote with some indistinct details – with some numbers and dates and other parameters, it becomes a conversation starting point and later becomes a running document. As a result, multiple versions of it get created, prices change, the quantities change, the delivery dates change, the delivery locations change, the overall pricing changes, discounts, packs, shipping all these elements showing a variable characteristic will have a tendency to change. It’s as good as a real order but it’s basically a soft commitment. So, this is something which is quite common and most of the organizations solve this problem by implementing their own quote management solutions which are outside the CRM framework.
Typically, CRM talks to the quote management system, once the opportunity is ready to become a quote, a trigger is sent from the CRM to the quote management system with all the relevant details and the quote is generated. The quote process actually happens outside CRM.
But the trend is that people want to see what happened to a quote after it is created. It can’t be another system. People don’t want to jump windows and also, they want to have complete visibility about what is happening in a particular opportunity. Till a quote is accepted by the customer representative, the opportunity is not considered as closed. So they want to know what’s happening on the quote side, how many versions have been created, which ones are sent to the customer, when was it sent, was it sent as an email attachment or was it sent as a printed copy, what was the customer reaction, when did they see it, when they plan to complete it or close it. These are some details sales rep wants to see in their opportunity view itself and they end up achieving it in one of the two ways:
First one is, if the quote management solution the customer using is strong, then we integrate CRM with it. We bring quote into the CRM, we allow CRM to send data to the quote management system and so on. Else if the customer is not having a quote management system and having a system which is very outdated or sometimes the quote management system can even be heavy – heavy in the sense that they may be looking for a simple quote management solutions but they might have gone for a implementation whereby a really heavy weight quote management system is implemented and the sales people are really puzzled on how to use it and they end up not raising quotes in the required numbers.In such cases, they build small quote management functionality inside CRM. It is very simple and straight forward but at the same time, you have to understand the process very well.
How CRMIT can support you?
We have worked with a number of customers and have understood that the quoting process in general is having a fine thread which is common across companies and variations are added on top of it. So that’s where we thought we will create our own quote management solution which sits inside the CRM. It is not a heavy weight system that you need to host elsewhere and then integrate with CRM, switch to it whenever necessary. It is ‘within’ the CRM. So it uses CRM’s architecture, it uses CRM’s own objects, hence it is well connected, easy to access, quick to use as the information need not be pulled out from a third party system. So that’s one of the very key features which add value to the CRM flow by just adding a quote piece to it.
Mobile Quote – Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device
Another common trend that we are observing now is the mobile quote. When reps travel a lot, they carry their mobile devices, tablets and other portable devices and they want to create quotes when they are in front of the customer. Of course they may be connected or disconnected, but all the details that are required for creating a quote should be available to them so that they can create a quote, across the table and can show it to the customer. Once everything is done, the customer says ‘”yes, you send me the quote”, the rep just presses a button and the quote goes to the customer in the format they prefer. This can be improved further by integrating it to a digital signature system so that the customers can readily sign the document in the mobile device itself, or using their Email/ an online digital signature system. This means, system drives the call for action and makes sure that the sale is won.
In short, this is something which is really transforming. Basically, you are moving from your simple cataloging system to a system whereby you can showcase your products and quickly create a quote and then send it across to the customer. This basically completes the loop as far as the purpose of that meeting is concerned. Many of our customers are moving towards this important milestone. Mobile quoting is something that will really transform this industry and CRMIT is working towards bringing the best mobile quoting experience to CRM sales persons using a system which resides inside their CRM so that no learning and unlearning is required. They use the system exactly as they normally use the quote management system and get this important piece of work done within the system itself. We believe this will really provide huge value add to our customers and we are excited to work with variations of the same application and help our customers raise better, customized quotes and close the business quickly.
Sr. Director – Innovations