Quote management software can save time and increase productivity for managed services providers (MSPs), but, as with any tool, you have to use it right.
Over the past four years, ASCII Group member Alain Lefebvre, COO of Great White North Technology Consulting based in Timmins, Ontario, says their MSP practice has found ways to weave quote management software into their business processes and maximize its value by integrating it with other applications. The most important integration, says Lefebvre, is with professional services automation (PSA). “Without that integration,” says Lefebvre, “the system will lose more than half its value.”
The Benefits of PSA Integration
When someone emails Great White North looking for new services or solutions, the PSA tracks the communication and generates a ticket for the quote. If the request comes in through the help desk, a technician will generate a ticket manually.
Quote management software, integrated with Great White North’s distributor accounts, makes it quick and easy to locate parts, compare pricing, and check warehouse availability, saving time it took to check various vendor websites manually.
The quoting tool’s templates, configured to match Great White North’s brand, offerings, and preferences, streamline the process of generating a quote, whether it’s for a widget or a service. Lefebvre says the notes field of their quote templates gives them the ability to streamline processes even further. For example, if an order includes a split shipment, it can be entered on the quote. Those notes are carried over to the PSA, so the dispatcher and procurement automatically have that information.
Great White North’s quote management software also streamlines the sales process. The software provides clients with an online link so they can view and approve quotes online — and their PSA notifies the rep to follow up.
“Tight integration with your PSA is the most important thing to consider,” says Lefebvre. “That’s one important thing MSPs need research in addition to doing a feature comparison. It comes down to what will work with your PSA.”
Quoting Best Practices
Lefebvre adds that although much of their quoting process is automated, it’s still important to draft quotes carefully.
“Make it detailed enough so customers know exactly what they’re getting,” says Lefebvre, “but not so detailed that they can give it to another vendor to quote.” He says to limit information in the quote to a description of the projects, a high-level bulleted list of task, and products, but not specific part numbers. “If you provide too much information, it will burn you,” he comments.
To avoid customer objections to a quote, Great White North has processes in place to make sure clients fully understand the project. “The quote isn’t the first thing they see,” Lefebvre says. A rep conducts a prequalifying call to assess what the client is looking for, to understand their pain points, and to arrange for a network assessment, if needed. “We incorporate that information into the proposal,” he says. “And if the project is complex, we present the quote during a meeting so we can discuss it. We also offer a follow up if they have questions.”
Lefebvre points out that the PSA-quote management tool integration also allows Great White North to track the time their team spends on the opportunity through the PSA and to enter information as they collect it from the client.
Lefebvre says Great White North had a team of three or four when they implemented their quote management software. “It’s not just for version 2.0 of your business,” he comments. “Every minute it saves helps you build your business and track your sales time.”
“And as you are building and adding a sales team, you’re already living it. Your processes are already in place,” he says.
“I highly recommend it, even to a one-man show,” he says. “We started using it pretty early, but knowing what I know now, I would have started sooner.”
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 located 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. ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.