The celebrated US and international motivational speaker Bob Hooey once made a simple and very true observation about the sales process for any business:
“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.”
In order to ensure that any enterprise is indeed taking care of its customers, an empirical and strictly procedural approach must be taken to sales and then on to the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) mechanism. This is where the strict procedures of ‘Quote to Cash’ come into their own.
The Quote to Cash process (Q2C) is just an extension of ensuring that CRM platforms are used properly, but the exercise starts earlier, ensuring that the quote prepared for a potential customer is correct, then once the contract is signed, Q2C also ensures that every step of total customer satisfaction goals is met, helping to ensure repeat business.
The important deliverables in the Q2C journey are outlined here:
Using AI-driven software such as Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) all the tiniest details of inter-related factors affecting the production of an acceptable quote are considered. Clearly, if a quote is too low, insufficient profit will be made and the business could be worthless to the service provider or product manufacturer. Equally, if the quote is too high, the potential customer may not accept it and look toward a competitor. The AI works on a rules-based architecture that can predict the final change in a price or production lead-time if the slightest thing changes, down to, say, a transistor specification changing in the manufacture of a washing machine. The cost price might end up being $5 more, but that increase may be mitigated by faster assembly times, as the new transistor is easier to fit. Such minutiae are crucial to consider for producing accurate quotes; only powerful software can do this with AI-powered predictive analytics and even leveraging the facilities afforded by modern quantum computing.Also read: 10 Best Paid Online Survey Websites In The World
The Q2C process ensures that the quote produced by CPQ are the correct figures and specifications – fed into a CRM and automatically mailed to the right people when required. It’s important not to just rely on hastily typed emails and haphazard conversations; this is where mistakes can be made. For example, the head of sales might call up the relevant customer account manager when she’s driving along and say: “Sarah, you can email Acme and tell them we can do their widgets at $50 apiece”, so Sarah emails with a figure of $15 due to the bad phone line call quality. That’s an example of a fatal error that a rigorous Q2C process will obviate.
Q2C procedures ensure that the legal, technical, marketing, warehousing, and sales teams are all included in checking any contract to be signed by the customer. The product or service specifications need to be checked by the people manufacturing the product or actually providing the service on the front line. This is particularly important with start-up companies, where changes occur so quickly that employees often can’t keep up. Equally, the accounts department needs to ensure that payment terms are acceptable, the logistics team needs to know the shipping lead times, etc. This provides a way of ensuring that when contracts are drawn up, nothing unachievable is promised to the customer.
Once the deal is signed by the customer, copies are kept on file with physical or e-signatures in place, in the event of documentation being required for potential future disputes.
It might sound simple, but are the products or services being provided up to the specifications carefully outlined in the Q2C process documentation? Regular audits must be made and customers proactively contacted to ensure that they are happy before any potential complaints occur.Also read: iPhone 14 Pro Max Is Apple’s New iPhone To Be Launched In September (Know The Release Date, Specification, Rumour & More)
Here is where the Q2C process outlines the timings and amounts of billing, checking that the accounts departments are adhering to the terms of the contract signed by the customer.
A solid Q2C process will consider the difference between when a product or service is delivered, as opposed to when the invoices for those services are remitted. The reason for non-remittances should be investigated; does the customer merely have cash-flow issues, or are they withholding payment due to a failure in the service provided? It is the distinction between these factors that is crucial, and what revenue recognition exists to quantify.
This is probably the most important step on the Q2C journey, whether the company is an SME or multinational. Is the customer satisfied? Are they ordering more products? Is a portion of their business still going elsewhere? If so, why, and what can be done to make the customer loyal and exclusive to the manufacturer or service provider? Again, empirical analysis is crucial to feedback to sales teams and all invested stakeholders.
Q2C is a simple enough process; it’s just about creating a set of strict rules and abiding by them, for increases in bottom-line profit and employee job security.
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