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A Complete Proposal: 5 Supporting Documents Every Business Proposal Needs
How to Qualify (and Disqualify) Prospects Prior to Sending a Proposal
As a security company, you’re well aware of the importance of the right proposal. Classically, door-to-door salespeople have been responsible for delivering a stellar sales pitch, touting the benefits of home security systems. On a much grander scale, however, is the project of proposing your security solution to another business or institution.
When it comes to quoting, there’s a lot of room for error. Even if your salespeople know your company’s products and pricing inside and out, they may be inconsistent in how they present that information to your prospective customers, or miss key details that could land you those deals. Beyond that, they may be able to write up perfect proposals, but spend too much time doing it, leaving them frustrated and compromising their productivity in other areas.
One of the best solutions is Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software, which can align your team and maximize the efficiency of your quoting process, but you can’t just pick a software at random and hope that it performs the way that you want it to.
The Main Goals of a CPQ
When making the decision to purchase CPQ software, you’ll have to bear in mind the main goals of the software in the first place:
Make the quoting process faster. Your salespeople have lots of leads with which to follow up, and CPQ software can get them back to those duties faster.
- Make the quoting process easier. The right CPQ software will make creating a quote easier for anyone making the attempt.
- Make your quotes consistent. This is good both for internal and external reasons.
- Save your company money. Combining the above effects, a reasonable CPQ software should actually save your business money.
Most Important Features to Consider
With those primary goals in mind, these are the main considerations that you’ll need to apply to your CPQ decision:
Customizability should be a major consideration for your eventual choice. Do you want to be locked into a standard set of features, functions, and templates, or would you rather have the ability to build pretty much any quote that you can imagine? The answer for most people is the latter. Even if you aren’t interested in customizing your quote to a “T” today, having that customizability in your back pocket for the future gives you a degree of adaptability, especially if your brand evolves over time (hint: it probably will). Just try not to delve into anything too complex.
2. The Range of Features.
The different features that your CPQ offers can make a big difference in how much of a boon it is for your business. Almost all CPQ software starts with the basic functionality of building and exporting quotes, but what about creating and maintaining catalogs of your products and services for your salespeople to read up on and use? What about calendars and centralized exchanges so your team can all stay on the same page with one another? What about a reporting feature that helps you to understand how many quotes you’ve produced and how those quotes have turned into opportunities?
3. The User Interface.
This consideration may seem purely superficial, but it has a significant bearing on how efficient the software ends up being. What do you think of the user interface? Does it rely on complicated movements and clunky functions, with ugly aesthetics as well? Or is it more elegantly designed, with drag-and-drop capabilities, intuitive, smooth functions, and better aesthetics? You want software that saves your salespeople time and frustration, so don’t overlook the power of the CPQ user interface.
Approachability goes along with the user interface, but on a slightly different level. Here, your main goal is choosing CPQ software that can be easily adopted and learned by your salespeople (and future salespeople). Don’t just think about how you’d be able to approach it, or how your existing team would; instead, aim to choose a software that could theoretically be learned by anyone. You never know who might join your team someday, and the easier it is to learn the software, the less time you’ll have to spend training.
5. Specialization or Generalization.
While some CPQ is generalized and versatile enough to be used for any industry, there are some variants of CPQ software that are customized for specific types of businesses. For example, you may find that there are types of CPQ software that cater to the medical industry or to some other niche of which you aren’t a part. These versions have specialized features that may be of use to you if you find one that matches your industry. Otherwise, you’re better off finding a software product intended for a more general audience; these also tend to come with a greater degree of customizability.
6. Customer Service.
No software is perfect, and CPQ is no exception to the rule. Customer service matters in the CPQ world, so do a little digging to see if your prospective providers have a certain policy or history of solid customer service. For example, let’s say that a system error prevents your quotes from being exported effectively: customer service is the first place to which you’ll turn. What are they going to say? How’re they going to treat you? How hard are they going to work to make sure your system goes back to normal in a timely manner? When your CPQ software encounters a hiccup, you’ll be glad that you considered these questions.
7. Price Point.
This is one of the most superficial considerations on this list, but it’s an important one. Remember, the whole idea behind adopting a CPQ platform is to make your salespeople’s lives easier and to save your company time and money. If the software costs more than you’d save in its implementation, it’s not worth pursuing. You’ll have to estimate here, but strive for a balance between the two.
The Importance of a Demonstration
Any CPQ company can tell you that they meet or exceed all of the criteria that we listed above; however, this doesn’t necessarily make it true. If you want to make an informed decision, you’ll have to get your hands on the software itself, possibly as a free demo, before you end up committing to something prematurely. Most CPQ providers offer trials of their software, so take them up on it!
iQuoteXpress is a leading brand in the CPQ industry, offering some of the most versatile quoting software on the market. Sign up for a no-obligation free demo of our software today, and learn how your company can save time and money.