CPQ Implementation | 7 Best Practices for Automating Proposal Generation

Many a Sales Rep has seen the uncomfortable look of a “misquoted” prospect. IF you are lucky enough to be in the same room, you can see calculation, disapproval, confusion, or even anger flash across the customer’s features. Not good. Any one of these emotions is a telltale sign that SOMETHING has gone terribly wrong, possibly ruining the rapport and trust you have worked so hard to build over the course of the sales process. Now all your hard work might turn out to be meaningless. Was it a bad lead, or bad luck?

Misquoting is one of the largest deal-killers in B2B because so much work goes into quoting - on both sides of the deal equation. Buyers frequently engage multiple vendors during the purchase process, working diligently to calculate their own estimate before even seeing your quote. When the customer’s estimate does not match up with the proposal, immediate suspicions are aroused, making it very difficult for the Sales Rep to mitigate suspicion after the fact.

Without the right business technology, quotes can be too complicated for Sales to explain. To do so could add hours of work onto each proposal, a task too daunting for Sales to perform without sales enablement tools. CPQ can leverage automation to bolster quote delivery without making life any more difficult for the Sales Rep.

7 Best Practices for Proposal Generation

Premium sellers are the most adept at solving the misquote problem because their prices are typically higher than the competition. These companies rely in part on their reputation to justify higher costs, but they also justify cost in the proposal, itself. To all B2Bs, INSEAD suggests delivering transparent pricing structures upfront, showing how the requirements and specifications lead to the final price (Falcão, “Overcoming Price Suspicion in Negotiations”). Premium sellers do this extremely well, building value with each element of the quote, differentiating from the competition, ultimately justifying the higher price. A transparent, well-communicated quote mitigates the risk of misquoting by convincing the buyer the price is right, regardless of expectations.

So how does this simple idea translate into CPQ implementation best practices?

  1. Drive data availability by identifying a CPQ that easily integrates with your ERP
  2. Dig deep into the sales process by interviewing master sales reps; learn how they explain products and services to their customers
  3. Deliver consistent, symmetric interactions to the customer, ensuring proposals execute the brand promise
  4. Prioritize Q2O as the first touchpoint in Customer Experience
  5. Choose a Q2O based on capabilities, not features
  6. Initialize a cross-functional Sales Operations group to guide cross-functional process & technology development
  7. Automate explanations / embed lookups to support Sales, professionalize the quote, and help the customer understand quote value.

Stellar proposal generation will boost sales effectiveness while enhancing reputation because those customers who do walk away will at least believe in the value of your product or service. And it also keeps the door open in the event that cheaper products do not measure up. Sales enablement tools should provide a much deeper, strategic, consistent customer experience so that every aspect of the purchase is necessary and value-generating.

Final Note on Vision for CPQ Implementation

Because dealmaking influences every business function, CPQ implementation requires cross-functional collaboration across Marketing, Sales, Finance, and the implementation firm. It works best by starting with the corporate strategy and envisioning how that strategy should be executed through sales. Then, implementation can set its own goals, the same targets as those shared by the corporate strategy, ultimately driving success through strategic differentiation.

Many of the best practices outlined above reflect this cross-functional commitment by integrating core business functions into the production of CPQ deliverables. Sales Operations is not rocket science; it is about executing good communication across business functions and through technology.

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