09 Aug Everything you need to know about quote generation
by Gilles Muys
Now that you have an approved quote, it’s time to think about quote presentment—the “Q” in CPQ.
The quote document engine in a CPQ platform is primarily used for client-facing quotes, but remember you can also use this functionality to generate internal documentation. Typically, in the generated client-facing document, the information included will most often match what your sales reps worked with when preparing the quote. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Indeed, the generated document can present a completely different view of the quote data.
This client-facing document is an important tool in your sales arsenal. To shift to that mentality, there are three best practices to embrace: automation, clarity and relevance, and branding.
Automation is king
As with any other area of CPQ, you will get the most benefit from CPQ if you take advantage of maximizing automation.
First, it’s important to streamline the number of quote templates you’re working with in order for automation to even be possible. For example, on a recent scoping call with a client, we discovered the client had 130 different templates—that’s a crazy amount of templates to maintain or to pick and choose from. To address this, we performed a quick investigation of the templates and the client’s processes. The final solution replaced the 130 original templates with a single one, that was dynamically analyzing the context of the quote and its data to present the required information automatically
Automation can also optimize your CPQ solution with dynamic features and grouping, generating terms and conditions that are relevant to the quote and the client. Simple or complex logic can be used to render information that is pertinent to each quote. In addition, Salesforce CPQ has powerful localization functionality built-in, which even allows you to use translated product names or descriptions, avoiding the need to create a separate template for each language.
Your quoted product mix can also impact the document output. You often want to present different information for recurring revenue products compared to one-time fees. The type of transaction, between renewal, add-on sales, or new business deals, can also justify the need to present a different set of data. This traditionally results in multiple templates. But if you create a smart template that automatically recognizes the quote data, you can create a single template that will automatically hide or show the relevant information in the generated document.
Similarly, you might want to dynamically hide specific pricing data. A good example would be to hide the discount column in your priced product tables if no product has been discounted for a particular quote. Another common need is to show the details of a bundle but without the price of each component, and only show the price of the entire solution.
All these elements can be integrated into a single, dynamic, and smart template, capable of handling all scenarios.
So while you may be juggling multiple templates in your current system to account for all the many variations in how you present quotes to clients, your powerful Salesforce CPQ platform is just sitting and waiting for you to optimize it for one, powerful template. This dynamic template will automatically generate the content needed based on the products quotes, the type of client, etc.
Document clarity and relevance
The way you present information in your quote document can be a powerful tool to help you close the deal. The reader of the document should be able to understand clearly what you are selling them and the value they will get by doing business with you. From this perspective, simpler is often better!
When it comes to the list of products and services and their price, think about the most impactful organization of such data. Here are some examples of how you can group your products and services in separate line item sections for the price sheet section of your document:
– By bundle
– By installation location (country, region, specific delivery address, and so on)
– By type of product, between recurring and non-recurring
Think also about presenting upsell options in a clearly separated section in the document to increase revenue.
If you have channel sales, make sure to include information specific to your partners, such as their partnership level, or whether the deal is registered so that they can verify that they get an additional discount for deal registration. If your distribution model includes two levels of channel partners, think about creating a separate white-label template. This will show your desire to make it easier to do business with you.
Finally, do not forget to include all the information that allows your customers to verify the math when it comes to pricing. This applies to unit prices, quantities, and discounts, as well as the term for recurring products. The reader of the document will be happy to verify that the total price is a combination of all these factors.
Because you will present the quote document to your customer for acceptance, this is a legally binding document. As a result, you must ensure that the document includes all the necessary terms and conditions. In a CPQ platform such as Salesforce CPQ, you can take advantage of a completely dynamic library of standard or custom terms. Each specific term will be automatically included in the document based on the logic you implemented thanks to the rules engine included with the document engine.
Similarly, the doc engine can automate attachments of marketing collateral, such as data sheets of quoted products, or a company information sheet.
As final advice, do not hesitate to create custom fields on the Quote or Quote Line objects that are used only in the generated documents. This could be special calculations or additional textual information.
Make your brand count!
Finally, the quote is your chance to present your business in a way that will put your brand in the very best light. You can reinforce your company’s branding and leave your clients impressed with professionally designed quotes. Here are some best practices for making sure your quotes stand out and proudly proclaim your brand while still clearly conveying necessary information:
– Use company-approved graphics and color themes consistently. Don’t overwhelm the quote document with design elements, but make sure it feels as much a part of your business as any other client-facing content.
– Keep the information organized by making sure it’s readable. Making it easy for clients to understand the entire document saves you a 30-minute explanatory phone call and time you could be using to close another deal.
– Present the information in a clear, concise manner. Remember that the quote document is a rhetorical, persuasive document—if the client can’t understand it easily, they’ll begin to think they can’t do business with you easily as well.
– Decide between having a quick output including only a price sheet or having a complete proposal which presents company information as well. Of course, you can have both! Use the full proposal for new clients, and the quick price sheet for repeat customers.
– Include an optional cover page or personalized cover letter designed by the sales rep. This helps to make the quote more personal, because at the end of the day it’s all about people. CPQ and automation can do a lot, but you have to maintain trust and build relationships all on your own.
Quotes can be overlooked in the overall CPQ process, but quote generation—when empowered by Salesforce CPQ—is a powerful branding and sales tool. You’ll enjoy organized dynamic templates and a digitally transformed platform for your business processes when you channel the power of quote generation in your organization’s CPQ system.
Gilles Muys is VP of Customer Solutions at Simplus and an experienced executive. He knows CPQ across various industries, has extensive startup experience, and was one of the first three SteelBrick employees. Gilles is the only Salesforce CPQ Black Belt in the world.