Managed services providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs) open to new ways to increase efficiency should take a serious look at using a quote management system. You need to be strategic about implementation, however, to get the most value from your investment.
Stanley Louissaint, Principal and Founder of Fluid Designs and ASCII Group member, shares the steps you need to follow. There are four basic steps to implementing a quote management system that will result in the most significant benefits to your business:
1Establish a standardized quote process.
Louissaint points out that your business needs to establish quoting policies and procedures that your team will carry out, with or without a quoting tool, that ensure solutions reflect your technical expertise, as well as brand and price consistency.
“Technology is a tool to help you with your tasks. But, first, you need to figure out how to optimize the manual processes you have in place with your quote management system,” Louissaint explains.
For example, if you’re currently using Microsoft Word to generate quotes and typing in the descriptions of products, a quote management tool will automate that. “With a quote management tool, you enter the SKU, and it fills in the description for you. If you want to add photos or attach documents, it will do that for you, as well,” he says.
2Train your sales team.
The primary functions of a quote management tool are to create quotes professionally, get them into your clients’ hands, track them and follow up, and ultimately, get the client to accept them. Therefore, it’s vital to incorporate your quote management system into your sales process and train your sales team to use the tool effectively.
Louissaint says to expect a learning curve, but a more significant challenge is making sure your sales team pays attention to notifications whenever they use the system. “With a manual process, you can send a quote and forget that you sent it,” Louissaint says. “Our quote management system also functions as a CRM. When it sends reminders to clients, it also sends them to us. We need to hold ourselves accountable to follow up to close the deal.”
3Build your quote management system into workflows throughout your organization.
Louissaint comments that using a quote management system will impact areas of your organization beyond sales, so it’s essential to decide how the technology will provide your business with the best value and integrate it with other systems.
Fluid Design uses the QuoteWerks quote management system and has integrated it with QuickBooks. Although some MSPs integrate their quote management system with their professional services automation (PSA), Louissaint says this plan works best for his business. “All of our customers in the PSA are also in QuickBooks. We pull customer data from QuickBooks, and when an order is approved, we export it to QuickBooks,” he explains. When a client accepts a quote and pays online through the tool, the information is passed to the person responsible for ordering, and that person enters the job into the PSA as a part of that workflow.
Employees responsible for finance and ordering also need to be familiar with the tool and how to use it effectively.
Louissaint says when talking with peers, he hears that the quoting process is not efficient for most MSP and VAR businesses. “One of the most time-consuming parts is hunting for products and pricing from multiple distributors,” he says. “One of a quoting tool’s biggest strengths is the ability to use it to check availability and compare pricing from all distributors simultaneously.”
He adds that templating can also save time. For example, you can build templates for “good,” “better,” and “best” offerings that your sales team can pull up and almost instantaneously have a quote.
Louissaint points out that some features are charged at an added cost. “Sometimes people don’t want to spend money. But that extra fee may yield them thousands of dollars in revenue,” he says. “Don’t try to save money and get a basic quote management system. You may not even know what features you are missing that will ultimately make your life easier.”
“The right system will shave time and streamline the process,” says Louissaint. “That’s what we’re all looking for.”
“What are you waiting for?” he asks.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members, including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more. In addition, ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.