Why You Shouldn’t Quote Using Spreadsheets

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using spreadsheets to quote.pngWe often ask technology services teams a simple question: “How important is quoting?” The answer is almost always the same: Quoting is very important but it really needs improvement. While the specific problems in quoting differ from company to company, it’s the use of spreadsheets for quoting that, in most cases, is the root cause. In this post, I’m going to cover some of the challenges your company might be facing and provide an alternative to quoting in spreadsheets.  

What’s Causing Pain In Quoting? The Short Answer: It Depends

Complexity: For many teams, the complexity of quoting is the problem. These teams have a variety of pricing models and service offerings combined with a lot of different scoping (estimation) spreadsheets. Throw in a cumbersome approval process and you get a sales process that is sub-optimal.

Volume: For others, it’s the volume of quotes that causes pain. They need a simple, efficient, scalable solution. Quoting simply takes too long and costs too much. These teams frequently talk about increasing quoting speed and quality in order to improve competitiveness.

Transformation: Companies are moving away from selling only rates and hours. Instead, they want to offer solutions, outcomes, and productized services. They want their Sales teams (and customers) to view a menu of services, click the ones they want, and deliver quotes (and services) on demand. Trying to implement this transformation with spreadsheets is like trying to eat soup with a fork.

Proposal Content: Proposals are painful for nearly everybody. The problem is that the content (pricing, scope, assumptions, etc) is static, not dynamically linked to the pricing, which sits in spreadsheets. So, all the details have to be manually inserted into the proposal, often repeatedly. It’s slow, inconsistent, error prone, and yet, critical to winning. This is not the “proposal automation” that services teams are looking for.

Which pain are you experiencing? If you’re like an increasing number of companies, it’s any combination or all of the above.   

The Solution: Purpose Built Technology

Services teams don’t want better spreadsheets or some document generator. They want simple and fast. They want intuitive and flexible. They want technology that is designed for selling professional services.

So, how are teams solving these problems? We see a two-step process:

Step 1: Start with a clear recognition that selling with spreadsheets is a problem. The “simplicity” of spreadsheets is making things complicated while the “low cost” is categorically underestimated. 

Step 2: Deploy the right technology. Services teams understand the broad and unique nature of selling enterprise services. As such, they look to CPQ (configure price quote) and Sales Automation innovators like Zimit with specific requirements in mind:  

  • Cloud-based
  • Fast, simple, intuitive user experience
  • Designed for simple to complex services quotes
  • Powerful services catalog
  • Guided selling (rules-based)
  • Automated, dynamic proposal content
  • Simplified approvals
  • Powerful analytics

Three-Letters and 300%

As an industry, we like our innovation delivered in three-letter acronyms like CRM, PSA, and PPM. As a new era emerges in quoting, a new three-letter innovator is joining the team. According to Constellation Research, companies adopting CPQ see a 300% increase in quoting speed. This is the kind of innovation that tech services teams are looking for. So, if your team throws a spreadsheet retirement party, send me an invite. I’ll bring cake..and guidance on how to make the most of CPQ.

About The Author

james_cramer.pngJames Cramer is the co-CEO of Zimit. Zimit (www.zimit.io) provides cloud-based forecasting, quoting (CPQ) and scheduling for the professional services industry. Previously, James was the co-founder of CPG which was acquired by KPIT Technologies where he served as EVP, North America. Contact James:  jcramer@zimit.io.  

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Topics: professional services, professional services sales


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