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In this on-going series of deep dives into the benefits CPQ can bring, we’ve already taken a look at how CPQ can help your salespeople sell faster and how it can give your organisation better control of margins.

Now let’s consider one of the main benefits CPQ vendors promise for the ‘Q’ of CPQ – better looking quotes and proposals.

When I speak to salespeople about their feelings regarding the creation of their quotes and proposals, I always get conflicting stories. All of them value the impact that a well written quote or proposal can have, but many resent the time they have to spend compiling and crafting a document, rather than being free to focus on relationship building and selling.

The alternative is often to use a template developed by the Marketing department, but if it’s too prescriptive it can come across as bland, and it doesn’t reflect the relationship that a salesperson has with their customer.

Added to this, very few salespeople are good designers – and even if they have those skills, pulling a well-designed document together is a time-consuming task, and salespeople have people to see and targets to hit, so corners are often cut.

We asked our branding agency InnerVisions ID to describe some of the biggest ‘crimes against branding’ they see in customer facing documents. They told us to watch out for:

  • Low-resolution logos and images downloaded from the internet that pixelate when printed
  • Old logos or out of date branding still being used after a rebrand
  • Inconsistent use of branding guidelines (or not having these established in the first place) i.e. to keep corporate colours, typefaces and imagery consistent across all output)
  • Incorrect and inconsistent spelling of product names (especially in US/European markets where Us and S/Zs are inconsistent
  • Poor layout – the main crimes are too much information on one page, or a muddled layout of information whitespace is vital so the reader is not overwhelmed
  • Documents that look ‘cobbled together’ from many sources – different typefaces, sizes, layouts, even the language used can be inconsistent.

So how can a salesperson create a quote or proposal for a customer without spending a crazy amount of time avoiding these errors, without just copying a ‘boilerplate’ marketing collateral, and without having a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that isn’t tailored to your customer?

A good CPQ solution will have a comprehensive document composition tool that solves this problem. Templates can be centrally set up by administrators with guidance from the Marketing department, or an external design agency. All the company branding guidelines and ‘official’ styled elements can be taken care of. Logos can be correctly placed and accurately rendered. Colours and fonts are precise and the overall look and feel can represent the company in a professional manner.

This properly designed template can then be used by salespeople, at the press of a button from within the CPQ system, to generate a proposal that is unique to both the offer and the customer. Conditional elements of the template can toggle on or off and this can be based on the content of a deal – for example, marketing information can be included, but only for products and services that are offered in that deal. Sections can be triggered by the salesperson too, so if you know your customer is particularly ‘green’, you could click to include your company’s environmental fact sheet if you think it’s relevant.

Data from the deal can also be brought in directly. Often this is a pricing summary or the details of a quote. It’s quick and easy to get accurate data, and you don’t have to worry about the clash of formats that can occur between spreadsheets and word processors.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, sections of the proposal can be left fully editable by the salesperson. This allows them to add rich-text to proposals, giving them the chance to add cover-letters, executive summaries or any other content where their own style, their relationship and their personal knowledge of the customers situation cannot be replaced by a machine.

By combining the voice and experience of the salesperson with accurate deal data and with corporate branding and content you end up with a high quality, accurate, personalised proposal that will meet your salesperson and customer’s requirements.

For once you really can ‘have your cake and eat it’ with quotes and proposals generated by CPQ.

The series “What CPQ Can REALLY Do For You” is written by Walpole Partnership’s MD, Andy Pieroux.

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