Pragmatic considerations for switching to automated quoting
Rome was not built in a single day. The conversion to automated offer preparation can proceed pragmatically, step by step.
The automation of sales is not an end in itself - and it's not primarily about replacing people with software. Rather, it's about not wasting valuable time on activities that software can do on an equal footing.
If, for example, a standard request is answered by email, and document templates are filled in with text blocks, then this process can be executed by software not only faster, but above all, more reliably and error-free. For more complicated instances, this will not necessarily be the case.
Our projects have developed approaches that have proven to be successful, and we actively recommend them to customers when they switch to automation of sales proposal generation.
Tip 1 - Different processes for standard cases and complicated cases
All requests are entered via the same channel (for example, using the same form). After transfer to Offer-Ready, the requests are automatically classified. There are the standard requests for which automatic creation of documents has already been implemented. All other cases are sent to the back office for manual processing.
There are different reasons why some requests cannot be processed automatically. In addition to not wanting to implement all kinds of requests at once and starting with the most common and simplest cases, some types of requests can be too complex. Our experience, however, is that frequent cases are also the simple cases - while complex cases are not the rule. If one kind of complex request frequently occurs, then the effort to map its complexity is also worthwhile.
Erroneous or implausible data can also be a good choice for manual processing in the back office. It is not always possible or useful to reject these requests in the form. For example, if the word "TEST" appears in the customer's last name, then it is worth taking a second look before creating an entry in the CRM. Another example would be a request with a nonexistent email address, but everything else looks just fine. Should you try to reach the customer through an alternative search because they possibly had a typo in the email?
Tip 2 - Gradual development of complexity
It is important to have confidence in your own processes. The automatic sending of binding offers directly to the customer - without involvement of a physical person - is of course the goal if you're looking to streamline and save time and money. But it is admittedly a big step from traditional sales.
If in doubt, take small steps to gain experience and confidence. A possible intermediate step is, for example, the creation of offers within a Word-compatible document (RTF), which is checked again by the back office and then forwarded to the customer (as a PDF).
Additionally, the introduction of content intended for specific audiences (adaptive content) may be considered at a later point in your transformation.
Sales is a complex process. The sales process requires a lot of mutual trust and routine. Smaller steps sometimes lead to success faster than rapid change.
Tip 3 - Data filled in by the back office vs. autocreation directly triggered by the customer
In almost every project we've been a part of in which the automated creation of quotes by customers has been implemented, the question sooner or later arises as to whether sales employees can use the same form to make their own offers more efficient to create.
Although both use cases are very similar, there are also relevant differences - for example, in terms of KPIs or downstream processes. We recommend analyzing the commonalities and differences from the start and offering your sales department a separate channel at the outset so that offers can be created automatically by both sales employees and your customers.