18 Mar How optimizing quote approvals will enhance business collaboration and raise sales
by Michael Martin
When it comes to the sales cycle in business, time is everything. You want to close every deal as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, most customers don’t move nearly as fast as you’d like. In fact, nearly three-quarters of all B2B sales involving new customers take at least four months to close, and nearly half take seven months or longer, according to a 2019 CSOInsights study. While there’s only so much you can do to light a fire under your customers, there is one thing that’s fully under your control: Delays on your end.
One of the key ways that sales teams cause self-inflicted and entirely avoidable delays is during the sales quote approvals process. Anytime you generate a custom quote, there’s a likelihood you’ll need some sort of approvals—often multiple layers of approvals—before you can send the quote to your customer. Thus, a lengthy sales quote approvals process has the potential to dramatically and needlessly slow down your overall sales cycle. No customer should have to wait to receive a quote from you.
To get your custom quotes to customers as fast as possible, you want to use your Salesforce CPQ system’s Advanced Approvals feature to automate your sales quote approvals process. The Advanced Approvals offering comes pre-loaded with key features and capabilities that enable every business to streamline the process by which quotes get approved. Let’s explore four key benefits to automating your sales quote approval process using Salesforce CPQ:
You’ll be able to implement parallel approvals
Traditional approvals processes for quotes move linearly. First, your quote goes to the sales manager, then to the finance manager, then to legal, and so on. Even your native Salesforce platform was originally designed to support a linear approvals process. The problem is that when quotes are approved linearly, the process can only move as fast as the slowest link in the chain. Salesforce CPQ eliminates this persistent problem by allowing for parallel approvals, where multiple approvers receive a quote simultaneously—and have the ability to approve it regardless of whether others in the chain have done so. Furthermore, when a quote gets rejected, Salesforce CPQ uses a “smart approvals” process to minimize the time spent getting a revised quote approved. For example, if one approver rejects the quote, Salesforce CPQ knows to send an updated version to just the approvers who need to sign off on the update. Approvers lower in the chain who don’t need to approve the quote again don’t even receive the updated quote. The net impact of parallel approvals is that the time you spend getting approvals stays as short and efficient as possible for every quote.
You’ll make your approvers’ lives easier
Approvers are busy people. When they know that they’re going to have to devote a lot of time to review every quote that requires their approval, they’re not likely to move very fast. Salesforce CPQ makes your approvers’ lives easier by enriching every quote with relevant information, background, and context. This enables every approver to automatically receive data relevant to the approval decision in front of them, such as a reminder of the reason they need to approve a quote and other context that will help them make a quick decision. For example, if finance is responsible for approving payment terms and typically considers the overall margin in arriving at its decision, CPQ can automatically send finance a link to retrieve more detailed information about the deal size.
You can end reliance on manual routing for approvals
Traditionally, a quote approvals process has been an entirely manual endeavor. Someone had to take responsibility for keeping each quote moving through the approvals process. And if that someone dropped the ball or accidentally sent a quote to the wrong individual or a temporarily unavailable individual, the entire process would come to a screeching halt. To avoid this scenario, Salesforce CPQ can be set up to automatically route quotes to the proper approval teams. With dynamic routing, CPQ essentially uses the context of the quote to determine who the approvers should be—and automatically routes to these appropriate parties. For example, CPQ might route to certain approvers based on the type of products quoted, or the account opportunity represented by the quote.
You’ll bring more structure and consistency to discounting
Every business wants consistency in how discounts get approved, and every business wants to minimize the size and frequency of discounts. Unfortunately, in the absence of clear discounting rules, discounting can vary widely across deals, unintentionally and needlessly dragging down margins. Thus, businesses should be taking steps to protect themselves from excessive discounting; no business can afford to give away the farm. Salesforce CPQ enables businesses to inject structure and consistency into the process of approving discounts. For example, a business can develop tiered approvals rules, where a discount of 10% doesn’t require approval, a discount of 15% requires approval from one manager, and 20% requires approval from the CFO. Similar rules can be introduced to control discounting based on overall deal size and margin amount.
Salesforce CPQ’s Advanced Approvals enables organizations to automate their sales quote approvals process, streamlining an area that has the potential to result in unfortunate and avoidable delays in sending quotes to customers. Fortunately, you can take full advantage of these automations by implementing parallel approvals, enriching your quotes with information relevant to approvers, sending approval requests only to those who need to review a quote, and imposing more structure and consistency to approval decisions regarding discounting.
Simplus has extensive experience helping organizations automate their sales quote approvals processes. To learn how Simplus helped a medical imaging manufacturer eliminate manual, error-prone pricing decisions, please check out this Simplus case study on the Ziehm Imaging company.
If you’re ready to get expert help using your Salesforce CPQ platform to automate the sales quote approvals process, please reach out to the CPQ implementation experts at Simplus. We’ll be glad to help you minimize the amount of time you spend getting approvals for your custom quotes.
Michael is a Delivery Director here at Simplus. He has over ten years of experience with enterprise consulting in the CPQ space. Michael ensures that our consultants actively provide value to customers throughout their revenue operations journey. Before joining Simplus, Michael was a partner at CirrusOne, growing the company into a premier CPQ consulting firm. Michael has a BS from Harvey Mudd College in engineering.