Sellers are under constant pressure to be responsive to customers and to come to every interaction prepared. Despite these high stakes, many customers don’t have a particularly favorable impression of sellers: 82% of B2B decision-makers believe sales representatives are unprepared, according to SiriusDecisions industry research. To help sellers come to the table as prepared as possible, Salesforce offers Advanced Approvals for the CPQ platform. The goal of CPQ Advanced Approvals is simple: Help sellers get quotes to their customers faster. The Advanced Approvals solution is designed from the ground up to streamline and automate the process of securing all necessary internal approvals for custom sales quotes.
As powerful as Advanced Approvals is, it’s also endlessly customizable, with capabilities and features that need to be properly configured to achieve desired business outcomes. In this article, we’re going to look at five essential strategies every business should keep in mind when configuring Salesforce CPQ’s Advanced Approvals platform:
Develop clear, logical pricing rules
When a company requires sales teams to get approvals for custom quotes, one of the most fundamental goals is to guard against excessive discounting and other deviations from standard sales policies. But just as sales reps can struggle to prepare appropriate quotes, so too can approvers. Salesforce’s Advanced Approvals solution is designed to put guardrails on this process, helping approvers catch inappropriately pricing and other red flags in quotes. Companies can create these guardrails in Advanced Approvals by developing clear, logical pricing rules that automate how and when prices get flagged and routed to necessary approvers. These pricing rules can, for example, clarify maximum discounts allowed for individual products or for total quotes. The rules also can put guardrails on deviations from existing company policies or from pre-agreed customer- or partner-specific discounts. The key when developing pricing rules is to make sure that they catch the outliers they’re supposed to catch. In other words, if your pricing rules are flagging quotes that should not require approval (i.e., because they’re within the business’s standard pricing policies), you need to rewrite your pricing rules.
Enable email-based approvals
Approvers are busy people. They don’t have time to jump into Salesforce CPQ every time they’re asked to approve a new quote. Salesforce Advanced Approvals helps streamline and simplify this tedious task for approvers by enabling email-based approvals. With email-based approvals, approvers automatically receive an email auto-generated by Advanced Approvals that instructs the approver to simply reply to the email indicating if the quote is “approved” or “rejected” and to provide a sentence or two justifying the decision. These email-based approvals are generated using Advanced Approvals email templates, and there are all sorts of ways to customize these email templates to be optimally helpful to approvers. For example, you can enrich every quote an approver receives by automatically including relevant background information and context, such as instructions for the finance team to consider the overall margins of the quote before approving financing terms. You can even include a direct link so approvers can easily retrieve the full quote from CPQ.
Eliminate redundancies with “smart approvals”
In a traditional approvals chain, when a single approver rejects a quote, the modified quote must be resent through the entire approvals chain again—wasting approvers’ time unnecessarily and further delaying getting the quote to the customer. With Advanced Approvals, the system can be set up to “read” what’s been updated and to automatically resend the quote to only the approvers who need to review it again. For example, if legal rejects a quote and the legal conditions are updated, Advanced Approvals can be configured to only send the revised quote back to legal for approval; other approvals will stay attached to the quote. Furthermore, Advanced Approvals can be configured to automatically highlight for the approver where the quote deviates from standard pricing policies and rules.
Improve transparency with a preview approval tree
When sales reps are putting together a quote for a customer, they often don’t realize that the discounts and other modifications they introduce to the quote can have major implications for what level of approvals will be needed. To help sales reps understand what the approvals process will look like—even before the quote is submitted for approval—Advanced Approvals can be configured with a preview approval tree. The preview approval tree provides complete transparency to sales reps over which approvers will need to sign off on various aspects of a quote and why. Not only do these insights help clarify approval expectations upfront for sales reps, but this information also helps sales reps learn how to introduce fewer pricing and policy deviations into their custom quotes.
Implement SLAs to set performance expectations
By unifying an organization’s entire quote approvals process under one umbrella, Advanced Approvals makes it possible for organizations to establish SLAs for the approvals process. For example, you can set expectations for how quickly approvers should be approving or rejecting quotes. Then, you can use Advanced Approvals to monitor average approval/rejection times to ensure quotes aren’t getting stuck in approvals limbo for excessively long times.
When it comes to optimizing the sales quote approvals process, every business should be configuring Advanced Approvals to meet their unique needs. The key ways to configure Advanced Approvals include developing sound pricing rules, enabling email-based approvals, eliminating redundant approvals, developing a preview approval tree to enhance transparency, and implementing SLAs to establish performance expectations.
Simplus has extensive experience helping organizations configure Advanced Approvals to streamline the sales approvals processes. To learn how Simplus helped a specialty construction materials manufacturer implement approval automation for sales quotes, please check out this Simplus case study on the Saint-Gobain company.
If you’re ready to get expert help configuring your sales quote approvals process, please reach out to the CPQ implementation experts at Simplus. We’ll be glad to help you automate approvals for your sales quoting process