Imagine bringing a 2010 Hyundai Elantra with 200k miles to a mechanic who promises to transform it. The mechanic then places the Elantra engine into a Lamborghini Aventador and charges you a fortune. The car looks great, but it still runs like a 2010 Hyundai Elantra!
This seems like an unrealistic scenario but it’s exactly what services teams are doing with quote-to-cash transformation programs. They are implementing modern CRM and PSA systems while leaving quoting – right in the middle of the process – to spreadsheets. This is the services quoting gap that ensures systems remain siloed and quote-to-cash transformation efforts consistently underperform. Unfortunately, I see this across the industry.
This blog examines the services quoting gap and introduces a solution to finally close it. Let’s first take a look at why quote-to-cash transformation is critical for services teams to succeed today.
The Promise of Quote-to-Cash Transformation
Services teams embrace quote-to-cash transformation to enhance their offerings, improve operational efficiency, increase revenue, and improve margins. The benefits of quote-to-cash transformation are clear, as documented by multiple industry analysts:
- 40% of executives cited improved operational efficiency, while 36% cited faster time to market and the ability to meet customer expectations
- 56% of CEOs say digital improvements have led to increased revenue.
- A focus on customer experience during transformation improves customer satisfaction by 20-30%, while improving revenue by 20-50%.
So, what does it take to implement a successful quote-to-cash transformation initiative?
Up to 93% of companies state that innovative technologies are necessary to reach their transformation goals. Based on my discussions, the technology categories that pacesetter services companies are adopting, include:
- Customer Experience: In my 2020 Tech Stack Surveys, 81% of Customer Success teams planned to invest in customer experience analytics in 2020-2021, to gain more insight into the end-to-end customer journey.
- Operational Efficiency: Creating more scalable processes ensures companies can efficiently manage growth and improve the bottom line. Adding transparency into process execution helps identify roadblocks and inefficient workflows.
- Workforce Enablement: Providing employees with digital productivity tools has a significant impact on employee satisfaction. Every 1% increase improves a company’s market value by almost 5% according to the Harvard Business Review.
- Digital Technology Integration: A key to successful transformation is to use technology to integrate different data sources in support of processes and decision making, with a goal of creating the ultimate executive dashboard.
Despite all the quote-to-cash transformation advances companies are making, I continue to hear the same issue: services quoting is still a slow, manual process using spreadsheets. This also means that quoting is not integrated with CRM or PSA so there is a lack of visibility and limited view of resource demand. Services teams manually enter data into different systems… another time-consuming, error-prone process.
The services quoting gap that existed before transformation, continues after the transformation program is ‘completed’.
The Services Quoting Gap
According to TSIA’s Professional Services Benchmark, in 2018, it took an average of 38 days for services teams to generate a proposal—that’s 7.6 weeks! Fast forward to 2021, after three years of heavy investment in digital technology and that average has barely budged to 34 days. Three years of infrastructure and process improvement, with a disappointing 10% improvement.
This data shows that services teams have been unable to close the services quoting gap despite all the resources put into quote-to-cash transformation. Nearly every major function or process has been automated and streamlined, except services quoting.
Because quoting still requires spreadsheets and Word docs, it’s also difficult to enforce pricing and discounts, so mistakes end up eating away at margins before the project even gets started. The last thing any company wants is a salesperson giving away services.
Having services quoting stuck in spreadsheets also prevents companies from forecasting resource demand, which impacts the bottom line. 50% of companies surveyed by TSIA partner Mavenlink had to turn down work due to the lack of resources.
Another friction area is quote approvals. Once the quote is generated, too many emails based approvals are causing quotes to lay dormant in someone’s inbox. These delays frustrate employees and customers alike.
Traditional CPQ Has Failed Services Teams
Many companies look to traditional CPQ technology to solve every quoting problem. According to my 2020 Tech Stack Surveys, planned spending for CPQ was high across multiple departments, in particular product management and sales teams. But even PS teams are interested in CPQ also, with 42% of them planning a technology investment.
Source: TSIA 2020 Tech Stack Surveys
The problem is that traditional CPQ solutions are designed to quote products, not services. They’re great with quantities, SKU’s and optional product features. But quoting services is very different.
Services teams quote skills. The quote can be a block of hours or require effort estimation. It can include project phases, stages, sprints, or tasks. Pricing options can vary from one quote to the next. Also, documents are required, including SOWs and Proposals, which change based on scope changes. Discounting can impact scope, timeline, resources, and risk. Traditional CPQ simply wasn’t built for this, and can’t address this, even with extensive customizations.
Services CPQ Is the Game Changer in Quote-to-Cash Transformation
There is light at the end of the tunnel with the introduction of Services CPQ. These solutions are purpose-built to sell services, replacing spreadsheets and Word docs with a true enterprise solution. Real-time integration with CRM and PSA is now possible, providing services companies with the ability to complete their quote-to-cash transformation and have always-accurate resource demand, without ever using a spreadsheet.
With a Services CPQ solution in place, services teams can finally ditch the spreadsheets and realize speed and agility with
- Enhanced Pricing and Billing Option
- Reduced Sales and Support Cost
- Increased Quote Speed
- Improved Margins
- Real-Time Resource Demand Forecasts
- Improved Employee and Customer Satisfaction
And as we’ve seen in studies cited previously, over half of companies have moved forward with digital transformation with a focus on the customer.
Services CPQ provides the missing piece of quote-to-cash transformation. You’re getting the Lamborghini Aventador with the right engine!
About the Author: John Ragsdale is the distinguished vice president of technology research, for TSIA. His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology. Ragsdale drives TSIA’s highly regarded technology research agenda, delivering insightful, thought-leadership research and analysis on the most pressing business issues facing services leaders to enable them to better plan and execute their service strategies. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned, which chronicles his 25-year career inside the customer service industry.