Deloitte estimates that 36 percent of all consumers want customized products from their favorite brands. One in five will even pay a premium for it, and most will wait a few extra days for it to arrive.
The 2020s have brought a new level of accessibility to customization – with it has come huge demand. Providing accurate, up-to-date quotes on customized products can be a headache. But with quoting software, it’s easy.
Sales quoting software enables businesses to quickly deliver customized products and quotes even when product options number in the dozens or hundreds. That’s especially critical for the manufacturing industry, which requires uncompromising accuracy in those configurations.
Here’s a closer look at what quoting software is and why you should be using it to drive your business.
What Is Quoting Software?
Quoting software – often referred to as CPQ or configure-price-quote – is a handy tool for getting accurate pricing for customizable products out to your customers fast.
It works like this:
A customer calls one of your sales reps and tells them what they need. The sales rep enters features into the configurator, which automatically calculates the price based on the given variables. That number goes back to the client. The whole process takes a few minutes.
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Learn how manufacturers are gaining a competitive advantage by introducing CPQ to complex product ordering and manufacturing.
It can also work like this:
A customer visits your website and plays around with your 3D configurator. The price updates in real-time as they select different options. When they’ve settled on the combination of features and addons that they like, they put it in their shopping cart and check out like a normal ecommerce transaction.
If you’ve ever selected options like colors, custom text, fabrics, or other preferences, then you’ve interacted with a brand powering its customer experience with CPQ. Today’s visual CPQ solutions are so advanced that they can do the same for buyers of highly technical, configurable products in the biotech space.
Sales Quoting Software Powers Efficiency, Accuracy, and Stellar Experiences
Imagine what your company could achieve if your sales reps spent more than 36 percent of their time actually selling. Because that’s the average proportion of time reps devote to revenue-generating activities.
Even if your company currently uses a CRM, there’s a good chance that CPQ represents an opportunity to streamline manual business processes. This is where 60 percent of your sales reps’ time gets squandered.
Sales automation software, or a CPQ, that integrates with your chosen CRM, takes a tremendous burden off your sales team by taking over the rote processes they would otherwise need to do by hand. In the process, it also:
- Accelerates the sales cycle.
- Injects more automation into manufacturing processes.
- Improves business insights.
- Supports a seamless business systems environment.
- Drives B2B and B2C customer engagement.
- Enhances overall consistency in business processes and customer experiences.
Why Excel is a Bad Choice for Tracking Product Options & Pricing
Are you using Excel to track your current pricing and product options? You’re not alone. If the hundreds of Excel templates available for such purposes are any indication, it’s one of the more popular uses for this powerful program.
But if you’re producing complex products, it’s a horrible solution.
Excel has many wonderful uses. But using it for configurations, pricing, and quotes introduces risks your business doesn’t need. For example:
- Manual processes are slow. Scrolling by hand through pages of Excel sheets consumes time and patience. Sure, Excel has search functions to handle this, but…
- Cryptic codes invite errors. To keep sheets from bloating to mammoth sizes, many vendors turn to codes or numbers to streamline things. But what happens when two numbers get switched, or the wrong code gets copied? It’s a nightmare.
- Version control is difficult. Keeping everyone on the same page with an Excel book means distributing a new version every time it’s updated. You could try using one of the many cloud spreadsheet options, but these typically don’t have all of the functionality that the actual program itself has.
- Human capital represents a risk. Those cryptic codes? They’ve got to be learned, which means you’ll lose that expertise whenever a sales rep leaves the company. Until the new one gets up to speed, you’re running the risk of more errors and slower quotes.
The Best Quoting Software for Manufacturing
When it comes to software solutions, options exist from well-known vendors like Salesforce, HubSpot, and IBM to smaller, more specialized vendors.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are better or worse choices depending on your specific business needs and industry. That’s especially true for companies in manufacturing. Here’s a closer look at what the best quoting software for manufacturing looks like.
You’re specifically looking for two things:
1. It’s Not Too Big, and It’s Not Too Small
Many quote-to-cash and CPQ solutions out there are robust when it comes to features. Most integrate seamlessly with CRMs, and many will take over most of your backend operations.
These monolithic programs assume that if you’re big enough to rely on a CRM, you probably need every feature you can get.
On the flip side, highly specialized solutions may go in the opposite direction. They’ll give you only the tools you need to manage your backend or provide a sophisticated configurator but rely too heavily on your CRM for product details.
When it comes to quoting software for manufacturing, you need to find the proverbial Goldilocks fit. That means it:
- Allows you to scale the size of your software. This often takes the form of integration support or subscriptions that let you upgrade or downgrade as necessary.
- Feels approachable. It may be robust, but you won’t be inspired to use it if you feel overwhelmed. A good test? Check out what the analytics dashboard looks like. If you’re comfortable with that, you’ll be able to handle the rest.
2. It’s Customer-Centric
Many CPQ solutions are solely backend services. That means they don’t have any public or customer-facing component. The product configurator is reserved for your sales rep, and there’s no support for embedding it on your website.
For today’s buyers, that won’t do. Increasingly, they want to self-serve.
Therefore, look for:
- Product configurators with user-friendly interfaces. Whether 2D or 3D, this is a surefire sign that it’s built to drive customer engagement and not just office efficiency.
- Automation around sales cycles and pricing. Real-time pricing updates quotes automatically, while sales cycle automation helps get products in customers’ hands faster.
Bottom Line: Use Actual Quoting and Sales Automation Software
When your company produces complex and customized products, using quoting software is a best practice. CPQ solutions like Salesforce CPQ, KBMax, and others can help streamline your entire sales cycle – from customer wish through manufacturing and delivery.
We’ve covered what quoting software is, how it works, and the benefits that you can reap from deploying it in your business. We’ve even taken a look at a few tools for B2B and B2C companies of all sizes to give you a sense of what’s out there.
No matter what quoting software you choose, make sure it’s sales automation software that makes you faster, more efficient, and better able to respond to your customers’ needs. That’s the only way forward in the era of mass customization at scale.