As a small business owner, in order to compete with the big players, you need to be able to sell like them. Typically this means investing in sales technology that makes you more agile and is easily scalable as you drive long-term growth. One vital, but often-overlooked, need is effective documentation, specifically when writing sales quotes.
When your business is first starting out and serving a smaller customer base, it can be fairly easy to draft personalized sales quotes in a timely manner. As you grow and potentially expand your market and sales team, it becomes much more difficult to maintain both quality and speed. This may mean you’ll need to invest in a configure, price, quote (CPQ) software solution to stay competitive.
Why invest in quoting software?
Integrating a new software or service platform with your business can be a costly endeavor. While the outcome can lead to increased sales, long-term cost reductions, and improved communication for your team, investing in the wrong solution can cost you more time and money than you can afford.
You need to weigh the pros and cons of a given solution and verify that they further your organizational goals. If you’ve found that your sales are taking longer to process and that you’re losing more and more customers to bigger competitors, quoting software may be the first thing you need to consider. Here are a few ways it can streamline the mechanics of your business.
Deliver faster quotes
As most sales-oriented small business owners know, the quoting process is much more than delivering documents. It’s how you develop client relationships. However, it’s difficult to close sales and build rapport with clients if you have a clunky and unorganized quoting system in place.
Simply put, for most prospects it comes down to speed. In highly competitive industries, such as computer software, IT services, consulting, manufacturing, construction, consumer goods, logistics, and a number of others; efficient and timely quotes are a necessity not a luxury. So if your business has complex pricing or product skews wrapped within a lengthy sales process, a quoting tool can help you better manage this.
Built for remote work
One of the more difficult transitions for small businesses over the last few months is the capability to work remotely. If you’ve worked with quotes that require a paper trail or updated spreadsheets, this is now an inconvenient and sometimes impossible process. There’s less oversight and a greater potential for error that can cost you time and sales.
This is why quoting software may be a good long-term investment. Instead of printing off invoices or physical contracts, you can efficiently create, manage, share, and archive every sales document digitally. Some tools even allow you to collaborate on a single profile, meaning you can securely share and edit documents without the assistance of an additional tool. This alone is useful enough if you envision remote work being a consistent pillar of your business in the long run.
Often times the most costly aspect of your business is the amount of time it takes to do simple tasks. For your sales team, the biggest culprit is likely maintaining the quote itself and taking the time to modify it as the parameters of a deal change. But like a business planning tool, such as LivePlan, can help simplify updating your business financials, so can a quoting tool simplify your sales process.
This is typically done through the use of predefined sales templates. Forms, documents, and other elements that streamline data input and make it easy to find and adjust specific line items. Some of the top sales quoting software tools even come equipped with real-time analytics that gives you a better understanding of high and low performing areas of your sales pipeline.
All of these benefits allow you to focus on selling and leave administrative work like price calculations, quote customization, approvals, etc. up to the tool. This results in managing your time better, so the reps can focus on growing your business.
Greater oversight and flexibility
One of the most difficult aspects of managing a sales team is providing autonomy while maintaining oversight. Too little oversight and you risk quotes being produced at heavy discounts. Too much, and you risk bogging down your sales pipeline and the potential to reach out to new customers.
Thankfully, most of the existing CPQ tools come with the ability to set-up guardrails that can help you avoid rogue discounting. In some cases you can even produce quote packages based on product quantity, discounts offered, and quote terms, giving you much-needed flexibility. You can set parameters for your team and spend more time running your business and less time without having to comb through every single quote.
How to find the best quoting software for your business
As mentioned before, investing in new software can be costly. You need to be sure it’s the right move for your business and that you carefully vet available solutions. Typically, once you’ve selected an option and started onboarding, you’ll be stuck with it simply due to the upfront cost, so choose carefully.
For quoting software, here are a few things you’ll want to consider when evaluating your options.
- Size of your sales team
- Geographical locations of your clients
- Complexity of your products and pricing
- CRM integration
- Analytics and reporting
- Templatized forms or built-in e-signature
- Cloud storage
- Secure document sharing
- Internal collaboration
- Support and product guidance
- Long-term viability of the tool
Determine what’s necessary for your team to succeed. What features are worth investing in? Can the platform grow with your team? What’s the required return on investment to make this purchase worth it? Know the purpose of the purchase and ask for a free trial or even a demo to judge if it’s the right fit.
When chosen and implemented correctly, sales quote software can be a powerful tool for growth. But make sure that a CPQ tool supports your business goals and that you are financially able to take on the costs of implementation. Remember to review your business plan, financial forecasts, and current cash position. And if it looks to be a good investment for your business, explore your options and find the best solution that fits your needs.