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

quote-to-cash

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.