If you were around a thousand years ago, that would be an all too familiar sound letting you know that the town crier had some news or pronouncement for the town to hear. Then the printing press came around, making the town crier seems like a pretty ridiculous notion.
“Hey Bill, do you have the most recent version of our Excel quoting spreadsheet?”
If you were around 10 or 20 years ago, this would be a familiar sound from the sales floor. Then CPQ software came along – making the idea of manually configuring quotes seem pretty ridiculous.
So here’s my question to all the sales managers out there: Why are you still using Excel to manually configure, price and quote your sales proposals?
“Because we’ve been doing it for the past 10 or 20 years.”
Sorry guys, but today’s sales environment is different than it was 10 or 20 years ago. With the constant advances in technology, price configurations and the speed at which we’re expected to operate, Excel spreadsheets just don’t cut it anymore.
Reasons CPQs Outperform Excel Configurators
The Excel Pro
If your company uses an Excel spreadsheet to manually configure quotes, you probably have “a guy” (or “gal”) in charge of those sheets. Over time your spreadsheets have more than likely evolved many times – products added, configurations changed, prices updated, new discount levels implemented – it has probably gotten so complex and convoluted that your pro is the only one who knows how to maintain it. For your own mental well-being, I hope this person isn’t you. And if it’s not you… I hope you’re paying them well so they don’t ever quit.
I’ll ignore the obvious dangers of putting such a vital function in the hands of one person and just ask, what happens when you need to make changes? With everything running through your Excel guru you end up with a serious lack of oversight, responsiveness, and flexibility. CPQ solutions make it possible for stakeholders from different departments – sales, marketing, product – to easily and automatically update aspects of the proposal generating process (pricing, configurations, discount rules, etc.) and ensure immediate access to the most current information is available for all. According to Aberdeen Group’s recent research, this results in administrator-level control over proposal or contract templates increasing by 19%.
Keep it In-House
A manual quoting process usually involves A LOT of back and forth. Your sales team will often need to get input from engineering, product management, finance, sales managers and other departments before sending the quote to the customer. The customer may then come back with changes or issues which need to be run back through the various team members for revisions and approvals.
In this scenario, multiple versions of a single proposal are being sent by email throughout the company and to clients. This method is extremely time consuming and ineffective. And be honest with yourself – are you so sure your salespeople have never accidentally sent the wrong version of a proposal to a customer?
Companies using CPQ see a 13% decrease in the number of versions they deliver for the average quote. A CPQ solution ensures effective collaboration internally and simplifies version control – so you go back and forth with customers fewer times and still get them exactly what they need.
Do You Approve?
Let’s talk a little more about that approval process I mentioned. For managers, that task probably falls on you. Due to tight deadlines – and the hassle of chasing down executives – reps don’t always take the time to get discounts and prices approved. This limits your ability to control the quotes and proposals that your company is expected to stand behind.
A CPQ provides your team with configurable discounts and rule-based workflows to ensure that no quote is sent without the management or technical approval it requires. This allows sales reps and managers to create more accurate and effective quotes at a higher rate. Aberdeen has also found using CPQ solutions results in a 32% improvement in the proposal workflow, which leads to a nearly 50% increase in the number of proposals each rep generates every month!
The Human Element
Do you trust your sales reps to crank out sales proposals every day without making a single mistake? Do you even trust yourself to do that? With Excel, not only do you need to verify the actual products, configurations and wording used in the proposal, you need to verify the Excel sheet was used properly.
Did your sales rep use the most updated pricing sheet? Did your “Excel pro” apply the most recent discount configurations correctly? Manual quoting includes the added risk of human error creeping into your process, adding extra time and potentially costly errors in proposals.
Of the companies using automated sales quoting software, Aberdeen found that 56% were able to drive repeatable behavior among sales reps, compared to 46% for others. CPQ takes the human element out of certain areas of your proposals and provides rule-based workflows to streamline the process of verifying and approving everything else.
I get the sales manager’s comfort with their Excel “solution”. It’s “worked” for years and it saves money on technology. That money you’re saving though is going straight into resources for a process that could be easily streamlined. The bottom line – It’s doing more harm than good for your business. Get with the times and start enabling your sales team to succeed!