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Lead-to-Quote-to-Cash: Inefficiencies and Remedies


From the moment a lead lands in the CRM system, till it gets converted to dollars, there is an interesting (and sometimes long) cycle. Different players get involved, with different motivations, which have the potential to make it a very inefficient process.

However, this can be addressed by understanding various inefficiencies that can come up, and by having a clear strategy to overcome them. The best news, a smart CRM system will help you automate this so that everyone who creates a lead or a quote or an order adds value to it, instead of pulling it down.

Here are the eight inefficiencies that are typically found in this business process and how your CRM solution and its add-ons can be used to solve them by a process.

1. Improper Lead Scoring

Not all leads are equal. Each business has a different way of determining which leads are important and which leads are not. This intelligence has to be embedded in the system so that your energy is spent only on the right leads.

All the modern CRMs have very good lead scoring mechanisms that you can use. Understand them, align them to your business, try them on existing leads, confirm that the scores are in line with what you would’ve done manually and start using the model.

What if the model is not perfect yet?

No worries. These lead scoring systems can learn on their own. Just keep providing real-time feedback and the model will mature soon.

2. Incomplete Configuration Information

The days of off-the-shelf products are gone; this is the age of smart customers who want to configure every product they use. With the number of features that are configurable, there are a practically unlimited number of combinations that are orderable. Customers like this flexibility of having a product made exactly as per their interest.

But, this adds additional load on the sales person. Capturing all the specific information about a product and making sure that the quote is in line with those configurations is a huge task. Even a tiny error in this can cause a huge dissatisfaction and hit your margins.

All the modern CRMs come with their own configuration modules to handle this. You can use these modules to accurately capture what your customer wanted. The system will ensure the pricing is right and the customer would get exactly what they wanted.

3. Wrong combinations

Sometimes, you just have too many products in your catalog. However experienced you may be, mistakes do happen and a customer ends up having a wrong combination of products which results in serious dissatisfaction and higher costs in replacing the wrong combination.

Use Product rules in your CRM to efficiently recommend the right product combinations every time. This will also help you handle your upselling and cross-selling efficiently, bringing a positive change in your sales numbers.

4. Inflexible discount models

Flat discounts, tiered discounts, order-wide discount, every sales rep can handle easily. What about account-wide discounts? What about special offers? What about buy-this-get-that-in-a-discount offers?

All these (and more) are doable in your CRM’s pricing manager extension. Today’s systems are smart enough to provide you various ways to control the pricing, which provides flexibility and control. Use these to make sure your products are priced right every time.

price quote

5. Too long (or too little) approvals

Your customer needs a product urgently; you created a quote matching his needs, he is ready to sign it; but, it is sitting in your manager’s inbox who is vacationing in Hawaii.

On the flip side, some of your quotes which should’ve gone for an approval have reached the customers automatically. Think about this happening (randomly) for multiple quotes throughout the day; a real nightmare.

All these issues can be resolved by using the right set of approval rules on your CRM. This should be transparent and clear; most important, the system should know clearly when the approval cycle is completed and the quote can reach the customer. This ensures there is minimal training required and your sales people can start creating quotes with confidence.

6. Missing (or wrong) terms and conditions

Every quote comes with a set of terms and conditions, which are not a matter of simple copy and paste. Depending on the products being quoted, depending on the customer, their location, and various other factors, these terms would change. It is a difficult task for a sales person to decide on this.

But then, why should they make that decision? Isn’t it the legal department’s job? Shouldn’t it be as easy as click and go, for the sales person?

Yes, all these are possible with modern CPQ systems which come with your CRM. They allow you to control (by word) what goes inside your quote to ensure your interest is always protected.

7. Inefficient signing and document management

Sending a quote by email, getting a signature, filing it and keeping it for future reference… these are so old school. These are the days of electronic signatures which provide an easy and secure signing option for your quotes, contracts and other important documents.

Look at your CRM and find out what integrations it provides with industry standard E-signature platforms. Set them up and make sure all your documents follow this process. It will save you lot of time (and it is good for the planet too!)

8. CRM and ERP speaking two different languages

When you create an accurate quote, price it right, get it signed using the sophisticated platform and still end up having a customer dissatisfaction, the problem could be with your integrations: check if your CRM and ERP are speaking the same language. This will ensure your customer gets exactly what he wanted.

Design your integrations in such a way that the data flows in the right direction and there are right conflict resolution rules. Also provide visibility of one system in another, which provides a way to check and fix these manually.

Today’s cloud integration platforms provide you with an easy way to make sure the systems are always in sync. Utilise the right monitoring tool to look at problems and fix them accordingly.

Taking care of these efficiencies will give an immediate boost to your lead to quote to cash mechanism. Keep improving the model and the results will multifold.


1 Comment

Quote Management – Quote Simple. Quote Smart

Quote Simple. Quote Smart

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.

Quote Management

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?
Accelerate Revenue through Quote ManagementWe 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.

Inputs from
Naga Chokkanathan
Sr. Director – Innovations
CRMIT Solutions