How to Turn A Request for Proposal into Cash

By Danny Wong

It’s called the quote-to-cash process (QTC) for a reason – because it covers everything in the sales process: from the quote a rep gives to getting the cash in for the sale. QTC can be viewed as one process – albeit a long and winding one, in most cases.

Being in sales is not for the faint of heart, and QTC is one of the reasons. Anything that can make this process less cumbersome, more timely, and more successful – well, that’s a good step to take.

While there are certainly steps before this hopefully final process begins, the first measurable, concrete QTC function is usually a request for a quote. It’s important to distinguish this endpoint from the moment when many reps assume the sales process is over: the moment the customer agrees to place an order. In reality, the sales process is not complete until cash is in and the sales cycle has been reported and analyzed.

So here’s a new wrinkle: By employing an integrated QTC solution, you can easily manage all the independent actions that make up the QTC cycle. This enables your salespeople to deliver accurate information to clients quickly, minimize errors in ordering and invoicing, and improve your data analysis and forecasting efforts – all while improving your chances of successful sales and collections.

Start by Configuring the Sales Offer
The earliest stage of the QTC process is broken down as Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ). It kicks off with configuration, when a salesperson takes the first action toward building a quote for a client. Any inconsistencies in the quote at this early stage can be costly down the line.

In outdated, manual configuration processes, sales reps have to comb through spreadsheets and product databases one by one to find the information they need. And, since records are often input manually, there can be multiple conflicting entries for single products. This forces salespeople to rely on their best judgment to deliver customer quotes in a timely manner – and often results in inconsistencies and errors.

Automated QTC software, however, takes the guesswork out of configuration for salespeople. It accelerates the front end of the process for the organization and the customers and imposes a series of controls to ensure consistency and quality.

Then Develop the Offer Price and Project Quote
While research indicates that 66 percent of all sales quotes end without a purchase, thorough, accurate, and timely sales quotes could have a positive impact on improving those numbers.

Complicated pricing structures, however, can cause salespeople to deliver error-laden quotes. When layered with discounts, grouped items, bundles, add-ons, and other price fluctuations, quote development can become difficult to handle manually. When clients request adjustments to order quantities, the process may become even more cumbersome.

Even if your pricing structure is relatively simple, a misquote is still possible. Since studies also show that sales generally go to the vendor that responds first, fast and accurate quoting makes sense. With a QTC solution, salespeople can quote confidently and instantly.

By incorporating automated proposals into your QTC process, you ensure that every proposal and subsequent contract meets the standards required to complete the sale – error free. It’s not just about plugging in values, since automation lets you create dynamic proposals that are constructed from hundreds or thousands of distinct data points.

Process the Order
Once your customer agrees to the terms, QTC software integrates the entire process so executed proposals and contracts immediately trigger actions on the finance and fulfillment end. And then, after the sales, reps can seek out cross-selling and renewal possibilities.

QTC technology allows salespeople to quickly apply terms and conditions to other products for cross-selling. They can also easily create renewal quotes based on order data already in the system so customers get accurate cost projections at the negotiating table and can plan for future expenses.

When reps have to juggle a large stable of clients, subscription management can be overwhelming – especially where the subscription parameters and deadlines are unique to each client. To maximize the lifetime value of each customer, sales managers could consider using a software solution to enable superior subscription management functions instead of manually tracking all the details in addition to the other sales data.

Send the Invoice, Collect Payment, and Allocate Cash
With a QTC solution, invoicing and other accounting functions are integrated along with the sales, fulfillment, and analysis tasks. Any department can access real-time data the moment an order is modified in the system. Accounts receivable personnel can generate accurate invoices as soon as an order is placed – without needing a detailed understanding of the intricacies of your sales process. This access to real-time, integrated data enables management to minimize collection delays and improve forecasting.

Analyze QTC Data and Create Cash and Budget Forecasts
QTC is a complex process encompassing many disparate organizational functions. Small actions on one end of the continuum have large impacts in other areas. Furthermore, multiple departments have to find ways to manage the process cohesively to gain the most value.

Before the days of QTC automation, data reporting and analysis across each step was impractical. Performance data was better suited to improving singular functions contained in QTC, such as order management and invoicing.

Now, however, you can simultaneously track and holistically analyze numerous performance metrics throughout the QTC process in one software system and free your metrics from their self-contained boxes – providing maximum value to every unit participating in QTC as well as to the organization as a whole.

Teams implementing and utilizing the right quote-to-cash tools will see improvements in their internal communications and productivity, a reduction in proposal errors, an acceleration of the order fulfillment and billing processes, and an overall increase in customer satisfaction.