The mantra that the “customer is always” right is taking on new meaning in today’s business world. In fact, customers are increasingly judging companies by the velocity and intensity in which their needs are met.
As customers continue to demand more and more out their product and service providers, companies are challenged with the difficult task of keeping up with rapidly growing and intensifying customer expectations.
One way that companies can meet this challenge is to integrate lead-to-order front-office software with order-to-cash back-office billing systems for a complete lead-to-cash solution.
By connecting the sales and business support process, a company can increase sales and order accuracy, eliminate the need for manual handoffs and significantly decrease the length of time from the original sales lead to the receipt of cash from the customer. This accuracy and efficiency ultimately leads to increased customer satisfaction.
The sales cycle for many companies, from when a lead is generated to cash receipt, is quite complex and extensive, and there are many things that can potentially go wrong during the cycle to jeopardize the sale.
For instance, without having the most recent pricing, promotions or up-to-date product information, a salesperson could quote an inaccurate price and/or misrepresent the product’s capabilities, which could, in turn, lead to a lost sale or the need to modify the terms of the sale. Such a common mistake can cause a slower sales cycle, increased costs for the order re-work and customer frustration.
For a better idea of what could go wrong during the sales cycle, ask yourself a few questions. Do you find that your salespeople:
- Sometimes don’t use the most up-to-date information on your products, competitors, pricing and promotions?
- May sell only what they know, ignoring newer and, sometimes, higher-margin solutions?
- Are too dependent on sales support and product specialists to configure appropriate customer solutions, often lengthening the sales cycle?
- Find that it takes too long to gain the experience or training to sell new or complex products?
- Are challenged with reducing the sales interaction time from “lead-to-sale”?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you could certainly benefit from an integrated lead-to-cash sales effectiveness solution, one that can shorten the sales cycle and prevent sales cycle errors and their subsequent repercussions.
Companies are aggressively moving toward the next generation of sales technology—a complete lead-to-cash solution—that addresses the effectiveness and revenue productivity of a sales team while reducing time and costs associated with order and billing correction. With an integrated solution, sales teams are able to propose accurate solutions because sales representatives have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips. This readily available information ensures correct pricing, availability-based configuration, application of proper promotions, accurate bundling of products and services and a positive customer experience.
It can be costly when you’re forced to discount the cost of solutions that are not configured properly; you have inaccurate pricing and promotions; or you create product bundles that can’t be implemented. Such errors are often identified and corrected during the provisioning and order-management process, but they still can result in as much as a 6-percent revenue loss—and customer dissatisfaction.
Products and solutions that are sold accurately can be efficiently ordered, provisioned, rated and billed in a timelier manner, with less order correction and decreased costs.
In fact, by having an integrated sales effectiveness solution, companies can ensure products are sold accurately based on a customer’s unique needs. Companies can also benefit from:
- Reduction of order and provisioning errors
- Shorter lead times which leads to increased cash receipts
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Decreased customer churn
- Decreased margin erosion
- Reduced sales costs.
An integrated solution delivers contextual, solution-specific information such as selling tips, competitive information, configuration, pricing and promotions to the salesperson at the point-of-sale when it is most valuable. This sales guidance can help train a sales person on new and complex products.
According to Sheryl Kingstone, CRM program manager for the Yankee Group, “Integrating back-office ordering and billing systems improves customer satisfaction and retention because salespeople will not sell a solution that can’t be ordered or billed.”
Based on your customers’ business requirements, the lead-to-cash solution can deliver contextual, solution-specific information such as selling tips, competitive information, configuration, pricing and promotions to the salesperson at the point-of-sale, when it is most valuable, thus, enhancing sales effectiveness.
Traditional customer relationship management and sales force automation systems alone are not capable of creating accurate complex sales proposals (i.e., configurations, pricing, and bundles across the full portfolio). Additionally, these systems are not fully integrated with the order activation and billing process, requiring inefficient manual handoffs as an order migrates from sales to billing.
The landscape of the sales environment continues to evolve, and the line between traditional back-office processes and front-office sales technology is beginning to get fuzzy.
To address the increasingly voracious and intensive demand of customers, companies must implement a solution that improves effectiveness and revenue productivity of the sales representative, while reducing time and costs associated with order and billing correction. This solution must include the lead-to-order advantages of front-office software and order-to-cash capabilities of back-office software.
In the end, customers will receive their products and services more accurately and efficiently, ultimately resulting in increased customer satisfaction and sales revenues.