Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Technology Service Providers (TSPs) agree that this has always been important, but it is more important than ever now because of all the changes 🙂 We are in the year 2023 – and interest rates and prices continue to shift and move at unprecedented levels. The following statements still hold true: “time is money” and ”no customer likes getting an unexpected price increase”.
In addition, the demand for accurate, timely, relevant information has never been higher. For example, the launch of solutions like ChatGPT, which allows people to get relevant content quickly pushes the bar higher for responsiveness, and accurate and correct data.
Anyone who has ever written a quote knows that it can become a stressful task when markets and pricing are unpredictable; especially in organizations dealing with complexities. You need to make sure you are making a profitable decision. Pricing and interest rates have a significant impact on this especially if you are not quoting quickly with the latest costing, pricing, and market information. With the huge number of variables, it can take even your most seasoned salespeople days to manually complete and send out a quote. In low inflationary times, however, the impact is less as the inputs stay relevant longer. It is mostly when prices are increasing left right and center, that businesses are burdened with the task of rapidly updating their prices and products.
There are obviously several motivations behind wanting to quote faster and with greater product flexibility or pricing flexibility. The old adage still holds true; the early bird gets the worm (for the millennials in the room: you snooze, you lose).
With increasing interest rates, the cost of carrying capital gets higher. Price lists and costing information need to be kept up to date in order to de-risk. So the faster you turn a quote, the faster you get the money in, and the faster you can lock in your pricing with your suppliers before it goes up mid-quote. The longer you sit on your inventory of products, the more it’ll cost you to carry all of it. In fact, the longer you’re sitting on your inventory and are not dynamically updating it to keep up with the market trends, your solutions will become obsolete before you know it, thus putting you at risk of losing to competitors whose product inventories and prices are up to date. Manual tools like spreadsheets are no longer serving the purpose; not as fast as we need today, at least. Spreadsheets are largely manual and brittle, a lot of work when handling complexities, and do not guarantee accuracy (more on this later). A Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) system that automates the processes of managing products and prices, and executing configuring, pricing, and quoting reduces friction and enables salespeople to get the job done much faster and with accuracy.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the faster you sell your products and collect your cash, the better.
What role does Revenue Lifecycle Management play in this?
Revenue Lifecycle Management (RLM), defined as “a framework for growing and retaining revenue from existing customers” by Forbes, is the name given to the consolidation of the strategies, processes, and tools that are needed to maximize revenue potential and drive predictable revenue growth. The benefits of RLM include, first and foremost of-course topline growth, then greater customer satisfaction, improved customer advocacy, expanded market share, and competitive differentiation.
By optimizing and automating the various processes within the sales cycle and having a solid RLM strategy in place, salespeople are better able to send out quotes faster. A foundational component of RLM is CPQ. CPQ solutions help enable agility and responsiveness on a couple of fronts: its easier for salespeople to dynamically pull new solutions together, and they automate the inbound gathering of pricing details from different vendors and suppliers; therefore your costing, pricing, and availability is always up to date as opposed to relying on someone to manual update this information in multiple silos and hoping for accuracy.
As mentioned earlier, the new era of technology is all about automation. According to Forbes, “In 2023, we see the continuation of innovations and developments in transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), cloud computing, blockchain, and super-fast network protocols like 5G. What’s more, these transformational digital technologies do not exist in isolation from each other, and we will see the boundaries between them blurring. New solutions for augmented working, hybrid and remote working, business decision-making, and automation of manual, routine, and creative workloads combine these technologies in ways that enable them to enhance each other. This brings us closer than ever to the point where we are able to create “intelligent enterprises” where systems and processes support each other to complete menial and mundane tasks in the most efficient way possible.”
What is a quote?
A sales quote is a document that states a price for the goods and services you sell. Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Well to be fair, generally, for businesses like say, a fruit shop, it is pretty simple. Quoting for a fruit shop that sells apples at the rate of $3.02/kg would be relatively straightforward since there are no complex variables involved.
Quoting for a Technology Service Provider, however, is an entirely different story; especially today when we are surrounded by complexities of all sorts. For instance, in the world we live in today, our transactions are no longer restricted to the exchange of Dollars and Yens, it has become fairly complex with the emergence of other currencies like blockchain technology. Thankfully, advancements have occurred on both sides of the equation – we’re also living in a world where advanced systems that take up these complexities exist. Organizations with complexity no longer have to struggle with outdated systems like spreadsheets that put their reputation at risk. Businesses all over the globe are opting for automated quoting and proposal generation systems because of the improved efficiency, business agility and revenue growth that they guarantee.
The definition of “complexity” can vary from business to business; but in the case of TSPs, MSPs and organizations dealing with complexities, these may range from:
- Variable terms and variable pricing
- Product Bundling
- Consumption-based pricing
- Different solution types
- The complex configuration of products
- Custom logic
- Multiple geo locations
- One-off vs recurring
- Advanced pricing engine
- Sunsetting technologies
- ….other complexities that can be specific to your business/use case.
While what “complexity” means can vary from business to business, the overall risks introduced by complexity remain more or less the same – organizations often fear not quite hitting the mark with their customers or deals that involve complexities, and therefore risk losing them.
As Jim Carroll says “Today is the slowest day of technological change for the rest of your life!”
When it comes to renewals and regrades, previously salespeople had to hop from one system to another in order to process renewals and regrades; thankfully we’re living in an age where integrated systems take your customers through the quote-to-cash journey.
Your complex quotes :
- Have accurate data displayed in a manner that is easy to digest
- Must be forwarded to the customer quickly
- Must have a clear structure
- Must be consistent with your customer’s corporate branding
- Must have relevant T and C’s to protect against inflationary pressures and supply issues.
While many organizations still rely on static spreadsheets for their quoting processes, it is evident today that static spreadsheets do more harm than good, especially during high rates of change. For one, they cannot be modified in real-time across all channels thus making it difficult for sales teams to collaborate and streamline processes. Not to mention spreadsheets come with the inherent risk of inaccuracy; which can carry forward for the entirety of the deal, up until your customer comes to you saying “this is not what I asked for…”. In which case, you would have to go back and look through rows and rows and pages and pages and see where you went wrong. Sometimes this could even develop into a reputational risk and could cost you the customer. Complex quoting power gives you the ability to build new substitutes for customers that can be more attractive, and better tuned to the challenges of the current environment. For example, smaller bundles with more pricing flexibility and different value-based product inputs can be created with a solution that contains all the features to help embrace change and assist your customers. You will be better able to provide an excellent customer experience all the while keeping your salespeople motivated and happy.
It makes sense to invest in tools and systems that can help you enhance and add value to your customers’ quote-to-cash journey – while also making it easy for your salespeople to reach their quota. CPQ platforms like servicePath CPQ+ help you do just that. Some of the world’s largest TSPs, MSPs and organizations with complexities have significantly benefitted from servicePath CPQ+’s advanced CPQ and QTC capabilities and it’s ability to rapidly and accurately process complex product and pricing configurations. Read more about how we help tech giants like Dell EMC and many other leaders in the TSP and MSP industries, and organizations dealing with complexities, enhance their sales processes and achieve their revenue goals and more. We’re rated highest amongst our competitors for being easy to do business with, ease of setup, pricing flexibility and more. servicePath CPQ+ is a no-code/low-code platform that arms salespeople with the ability to work independently without having to involve IT. Businesses benefit greatly from systems that are able to dynamically keep up with these changes. The first quote is almost never accepted; therefore, a system that has the ability to reproduce a quote according to your customer’s requirements quickly is ideal and will provide value for your money.