Big surprise: business technologies like CPQ solutions speed and improve business processes. That’s an expectation of any technology—whatever job I’m doing, the right technology will help me do it more efficiently.
But is having the best business tech a best practice the same way that, say, “keep it simple” “is? Can a tool that furthers best practices be a best practice in itself? With the right features and functions the answer is ABSOLUTELY.
Here are three elements baked-in to configure, price, quote software that make the solution itself a best practice.
A templated approach
Proposal templates have often been viewed as “nice to haves,” but not “must haves.” But a best practice is learning @@how to create business processes that are both effective and repeatable.@@
Now, maybe your first proposal or two (or ten) aren’t all that effective, but over time—as you repeat the process—they are modified to become all killer, no filler. In effect, the template itself becomes a best practice. Why? Because it can be used by someone with zero selling experience and no knowledge of best practices in sales to accomplish the best results.
Capture, analyze, repeat
Yes, these are tasks human beings typically execute for each sent quote: people capture information (“Say, Carl, how did that proposal work out with Mr. Plow?”); they analyze it (“Great, Lenny! Here’s what worked and why.”); and repeat (“Cool, Carl: let’s do the exact same thing for Plow King.”)
CPQ solutions with built-in sales analytics tools help deliver this same set of tasks across ALL the quotes you send. There are, of course, some tasks that can never be automated: your software will never be able to create the input/feedback from a client, for example.
But proposal automation software integrated into the overall selling process, and used consistently by reps, will allow you aggregate all “capture, analyze” input and “repeat” it to make improvements across the enterprise, and not just with individual quotes or contributors.
Contact management = relationship management
CRM (customer relationship management) software like Salesforce is overflowing with tools that help you keep track of business processes and performance. But most people use it like a glorified rolodex, a repository for names, numbers, and emails. Ideally, though, each name in your CRM is attached to a business opportunity and is being tracked, measured, etc.
The same happens in CPQ solutions. With a contact management system baked-in, you can connect the right proposals to the right people, which is critical. Because in the end proposal automation is less about managing quotes and more about managing business relationships; rather, CPQ is about managing the most important part of those relationships—the sale.
Best practices in business and sales have been long established (i.e., there’s a reason Dale Carnegie still sells millions 62 years after he died). But new technology comes out daily. Make sure the tools you choose to support your sales team have best practices built-in.
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