When a prospect reaches the quote stage in your sales cycle, what happens next?
When a quote is initiated, there is an opportunity to wow the prospect with speed, accuracy, and continuity.
Quote-to-cash is about standardizing the steps in the sales process that generate revenue. With a streamlined quote-to-cash process, you’re in control of faster sales cycles. And faster sales cycles = more revenue.
In this article, we outline quote-to-cash with actionable tips so you can speed up your sales cycles and bring in more cash.
What is quote-to-cash?
Quote-to-cash (QTC) refers to the revenue phase in a sales cycle. It begins with the quote and ends with receiving payment. Those steps, and others in between, make up the quote-to-cash process.
Here’s how streamlined quote-to-cash speeds up your sales cycle
Every quote-to-cash workflow involves several touchpoints. The process slows down when those touchpoints can’t talk to each other.
Manual processes for moving information from one platform to the next allow poor data hygiene to fester, often resulting in errors. Have you ever had to go back and correct an invoice that didn’t match up with the quote you sent? That’s the sign of a disconnected quote-to-cash process.
Imagine the quote-to-cash process like a keyring.
It looks like a custodian’s set of keys when it’s siloed. There’s a key for CRM and a key for Excel files. There’s a key for your PSA software and another for email. As you move through the quote-to-cash process, you pull out the necessary key for each step. When you onboard new staff, you show them the keys and explain carefully what each one does. This is not a keyring you would want to lose at a concert. It’s heavy and clunky, bulging out of your pocket.
But when the quote-to-cash process is streamlined, you have one key. One key! One key to connect to all touchpoints. Your CRM, PSA, and accounting software talk to each other from a centralized dashboard. Onboarding new staff involves a tour of the one key and the one door it opens. You feel lighter—no more bulge. No friction.
5 more reasons to improve your quote-to-cash workflow
It’s a big deal to change your business operations, but improving your quote-to-cash workflow is worth the time and focus. Here are five more revenue-boosting reasons to consider:
- Gain a competitive edge
When you compete with other providers to win a quote, speed, and accuracy help you stand out. Show your prospect eagerness and attention by being the first in line with a beautifully-built quote that meets their specifications.
- Enhance the customer experience
The deal’s done once the money is in the bank. Streamlining the quote-to-cash process ensures accurate customer data, including for billing. And if you’re using the centralized quote-to-cash tool Quoter, you can make things extra delightful with e-signature, user-selectable quote options, and online payment processing.
- Predict revenue and sales trends
You gain valuable sales data by centralizing the steps in your quote-to-cash workflow. Sales data can drive decisions for incentivizing staff, predicting growth, and identifying areas for improvement.
- Take on more volume
When the quote-to-cash process is more efficient, there’s more room for more quoting. Also, Quoter offers unlimited user pricing so that you can engage more of your team in the quote-to-cash process.
- Free up your time
Standardizing your quote-to-cash workflow makes it easier to delegate sales tasks. With fewer sales tasks on your agenda, you can focus on your most important projects or take more naps.
Who is quote-to-cash for?
Remote and hybrid work has changed B2B sales forever. Quote-to-cash influences more organizations today than ever. Industries where streamlined quote-to-cash can have a real impact include:
- Managed IT Service Providers
- Energy & Utilities
- Healthcare Equipment
- Value-Added Resellers (VAR)
- Banking, Financial Services & Insurance (BFSI)
The quote-to-cash process is specific to each organization, but there are common steps you will find in most cases. Let’s look at those below.
The 8 steps of an automated quote-to-cash process
Here’s how a Quoter-supported quote-to-cash process looks.
The specifications of the quote are gathered. This could include hardware, software, and services. With Quoter, you can use intelligent templates to expedite data entry.
- CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote)
- Ship Quote
The quote data is compiled in a professional proposal template. The quote is sent to the customer by email.
The quote is tracked, and a reminder is automatically sent to the customer at a scheduled date.
- Revise Quote
Changes to the quote, such as quantities, product types, or discounts, are made. These revisions are either discussed with the client, and then an updated quote is sent, or the client configures the modifications within the original document.
After review and approval of the quote, the contract is signed. In a Quoter-automated workflow, the agreement is digitally available to the customer when receiving the proposal, so they have control over when to sign off.
Quoter offers a Contract Management solution to help manage contract templates and track the status of contacts at different stages of the document lifecycle.
Once the contract is signed, it’s time to invoice. Get a deposit payment started by including an invoice link on your quote template. You can initiate recurring payments at the quote level, too.
Take payment online through your preferred payment gateway or gateways and have payment record data sent to your accounting software. Quoter integrates with Quickbooks Online, DataGate, ConnectBooster, and more accounting and billing software for better account tracking.
Here’s how to improve your quote-to-cash workflow
Good news: you already have a quote-to-cash process, even if, right now, it isn’t as efficient as what we’ve described above.
Below, we’ve got a path forward for improving your quote-to-cash workflow.
- Write down your current process
By writing it down, you’ll have a clear roadmap for how the current process gets done. This document is a foundation for identifying gaps and deciding what to automate.
- Identify the people involved at each step
With your ‘current process’ document, you can append people to each step. In building this inventory, there could be some revelations: one or few people are doing all of the work, or the work is heavily siloed, or there are gaps in hand-off where quotes could fall between the cracks, or there are fussy tasks (such as importing/exporting client data) that could be automated.
- Describe the bottlenecks
Now that you can see what your quote-to-cash process looks like and who is involved, you can identify where the bottlenecks are. Bottlenecks, or points of congestion in business processes, are why you aren’t quoting as fast or as successfully as you’d like. A bottleneck could be as low-stakes (but excruciatingly annoying) as clearing the finicky Excel file you use as a proposal template.
- Audit your sales tech stack.
Cloud-based tools should simplify processes, not complicate them. A tech stack audit is ideal, but if you need more time and resources, you can pull up your credit card statements and look at what you’re paying to support your sales process. Make a list of your tools and line it up with your ‘current process’ roadmap. Discuss with the people identified as integral to the quote-to-cash process.
If you are thinking about your tools visually, you should see a straight line from one to the next, with integrations that allow each tool to talk to the others. If that’s not in place, it’s time for a new solution.
- Centralize, centralize, centralize
Now it’s time to identify the tools and capabilities within your existing systems that would allow you to manage revenue activities from a centralized dashboard. The goal is to consolidate the tasks in this part of your sales cycle so that you can quote faster and with less room for human error.
Quoter is a quote-to-cash solution that integrates with the most widely used PSA, CRM, distributor software, accounting & invoicing platforms, payment gateways, email marketing hubs, and more. Centralizing the quote-to-cash workflow encourages transparency, pricing continuity, and greater access for your staff. Quoter enables teams of all sizes to build, send, and track quotes, all within one platform.
Questions about quote-to-cash?
If you’ve followed our guide for improving your quote-to-cash workflow, you’ve probably discovered that when things aren’t automated, it’s more complicated than it sounds. Fortunately, there are tools to simplify the process and many resources to learn more about quote-to-cash and B2B sales in a hybrid/remote landscape.
If you’ve got questions about quote-to-cash workflow, drop us a line. In the meantime, here are four commonly-asked questions.
If I wanted to improve one part of my quote-to-cash process, what should I start with?
Start with the part where quotes are most likely to fall between the cracks. You want to save your business from losing opportunities. By identifying where quotes are missing or neglected, you can take action and see an immediate improvement in the speed and volume of quotes.
Here’s where quotes commonly ‘go missing’:
- CPQ: If every quote requires multiple file types or runaround scenarios like transferring data from email to CRM and back to an Excel template, it will be tempting to procrastinate. Procrastination leads to neglect, which leads to whoops: missed deadlines.
- Follow up: If you entrust a person and their calendar to follow up diligently on quotes sent, you’re setting yourself up for ghosted quotes. Take the mental load off with automated follow-up emails, which can be configured while putting together the initial proposal.
- Revise quote: A client’s request for a quote revision could get lost in an email or be sent to the wrong person for handling the request.
How is CPQ related to quote-to-cash?
CPQ, or Configure Price Quote, is an essential step in the quote-to-cash workflow for businesses quoting for highly customized client needs. Professional Service Automation software (PSA) can help automate the CPQ process within a quote-to-cash workflow. Standardizing CPQ makes it easier to add more products and communicate pricing consistency across sales and operations.
Who should be involved in my quote-to-cash workflow?
There are many opportunities to delegate sales tasks to your team, remotely or in-office. Centralizing your workflow into one platform also reduces the number of human-led functions by automating repetitive actions.
Whom you decide to make responsible for ‘owning’ parts of this critical phase of your sales cycle will have everything to do with your team’s size and the resources available.
With Quoter, you can maximize flexibility with unlimited users and manager approvals for creating, sending, and editing quotes.
Where does human error most often occur in the quote-to-cash process?
You’ve probably seen it before:
A quote gets revised and sent back to the client. There’s another revision request. And another. Changed files abound, flying from inbox to inbox. Finally, the last version is approved. Now it’s time to invoice. Do you have the most recent version on-hand?
Invoicing inaccuracies, often due to revised quote files, are frequent and highly irritating to the client.
You can remove human error from this process with Quoter’s Quote Revisions tools. Even with revisions, the quote retains its original URL so it can be referred back to throughout the feedback process. When the customer is ready to accept a quote, the link to sign the contract and pay reflects the most recently updated version. Quoter integrates with accounting and invoicing software, so accepted quote payment data moves seamlessly from one platform to another.
How many parts of the quote-to-cash process does Quoter address?
Quoter is an end-to-end quote-to-cash solution with tools and integrations to connect every step in the process. One bird, many stones.