Sales Reps and Order Entry: 4 Ways CPQ Solutions can help them play nicer together
Winning a deal is not easy for sales reps. They spend months building trust and establishing a relationship with their customer. They uncover the customer’s needs and goals, understand what motivates the decision makers and map out the approval process. Finally, they generate a proposal with executive buy-in, negotiate terms and receive a signed PO. It’s a done deal, so what could possibly go wrong at this point? If you ask a sales rep, there’s only one thing that can go wrong now: Order Entry.
Order entry should not even be something a sales reps thinks about—the hard work has already been done—but the folks in order entry can be a major headache for reps. Not only do they create needless administrative work, as far as sales reps are concerned (and especially around hectic times at the end of a quarter), they can actually block deals from being booked, resulting in missed quotas and commissions. In other words, their decisions can affect the livelihood of sales persons!
For these reasons many sales reps see order entry as their mortal enemy. Ok… maybe not that bad, but definitely not their friends. It doesn’t have to be this way. As we’ll explain, with the right sales quoting solution, order entry and sales can actually become—dare we say it?—best friends.
In order to bury the hatchet, these two groups need to understand where and why the tensions exist. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at why sales rep view order entry as their adversary and what can be done about it.
#1. Manual Quotes, Manual Mistakes
If your sales reps use tools like Excel and Word to prepare, manage and send sales quotes, then it’s only a matter of time before human error gets the best of them. Even the smallest mistake – like messing up a SKU or quoting the wrong quantity of a product – can result in a deal being rejected. Purchase orders that don’t match what order entry has in their system are automatically sent back.
By eliminating the manual tasks associated with creating quotes – like copying and pasting from Excel to word – a CPQ sales quoting solution can eliminate common data entry mistakes. Perhaps it’s better to think of it this way: Almost all of sales processes are now either automated or leverage some type of technology. Why should quote creation be any different?
#2. Rogue Discounting
One of the surest ways to get an order rejected is when a sales reps quotes the wrong or unapproved prices to their customer. Sometimes this is the result of a mistake (see previous point), but sometimes, sales reps decides to “go rogue” and provide discounts or alter prices on their own accord. Of course, sales reps should only be able to discount based on the company’s discount policy, but with the lack of an integrated and automatic approval workflow process in place, unapproved quotes can become commonplace.
With a CPQ solution, pricing and discount policies can be governed, eliminating the possibility of rogue discounting and the order rejection that follows. Furthermore, sales quoting solutions can automatically create PDF proposals, which sales reps cannot alter even if they wanted to.
#3. The Approval Process
Did the quote get the necessary approval(s) by all of the key stakeholders before it was sent to the customer? If the answer is “no” then there’s a good chance the subsequent order will be rejected. This often occurs when a discount has been made (see previous point), which has not been authorized by management, but could also be due to a lack of approval by Product Management for a new product, or the support manager for missing support services.
CPQ solutions can address this issue very effectively by providing integrated approval workflows, which ensure key stakeholders are in the loop on quotes before they’re sent, especially when special pricing or product offerings are involved. Once approved, CPQ solutions can also make sure sales quotes can’t be changed, whether by accident or intent, after they’ve received approval. Using a CPQ, sales reps can be certain that quotes sent to customers are fully validated and orders based on these quotes will not be rejected.
#4. Selling the Wrong Products and Services
Here’s an easy way to get an order rejected: Quote a cusotmer a product or service that no longer exists. This might sound somewhat absurd, but it’s a mistake that is quite common. Generally, this can be attributed to outdate product lists or (again) configuration errors made as a result of manual data entry. If there is one group that is prone to this type of mishap, it’s channel partners. Because they are somewhat outside the loop, they often don’t get informed about important product and services updates. As such, they work from outdated price lists and send proposals for products that are no longer valid.
A CPQ solution ensures that only current, valid products can be quoted by sales reps or channel partners. Moreover, it ensures that these quotes include accurate, approved prices and configurations. As an added benefit, a CPQ solution can also provide upsell and cross-sell options sales reps may not be aware of, which can benefit the reps with added commissions.
What’s the key to a solid friendship? Communication and mutual understanding. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true. The same applies to sales reps and order entry departments. Until these two groups communicate effectively and understand what the other needs (made easier with a CPQ solution), they’ll continue to view each other as adversaries.