Author : james converse


Stop Quoting This Way (Unless You Like Wasting Time)

The Onset of Dread

Don’t you hate it when you walk into work and, before your morning coffee even has a chance to settle –


You’re inundated with tasks, and by the time you’ve come up for air, it’s already lunchtime. And, you’re still grinding away.

As part of a sales organization, you might be used to fast-paced work and doing lots at once, but it starts to lose its luster a bit when it feels like you’re just treading water…

At ZBrains, we hear this story so many times per month, even per week – but, it’s never worse than when we hear of a business sending tens – or hundreds – of superfluous quotes out every day. That’s because in those situations, business owners and salespeople alike might not even KNOW they’re wasting time and literally leaving money right on the table.

Think about it: Most of the time, quotes aren’t so easy to make. They have to be compiled, customized, revised, then sent out. Sometimes the process isn’t even integrated with the CRM. So, imagine when we hear that someone’s sending out fifty of these per day, and they get…one accepted quote. That’s one sale. Or, zero. No production for the day on a sales cycle that’s…less than a day long?

The time lost every day on something like this is enough to make you really sweat.

Especially as a salesperson, when time is money.

It’s also very interesting because, most of the time, business representatives don’t contact us because they’re sending out too many quotes per day. Rather, they contact us because there’s a more general issue, like sales figures being down since adopting a new business process, or knowing that their CRM use could be a little better, but they just aren’t sure what to change. Most never think they’re wasting time in their own business process…

Which is why something like quoting the wrong way can be so harmful to you.

So, what to do if you have this problem?

Many Means, One End

If think you’re having massive troubles at the level of quoting, you’ll want to examine exactly what goes into creating a quote. It actually encompasses a lot more of your business than you might realize at first. For example, your sales coming from quotes could be lacking because:

1. Your leads aren’t qualified. A qualified lead is someone who has been contacted and has been shown to be an ideal (or at least adequate) customer for you. If you spend all of your time selling to unqualified leads, you’re basically just treading water, and any sales you make are purely luck. Unless you’re in a line of business that necessitates cold-calling from lists of unqualified leads, you’re better off forcing your leads to conform to your process or your numbers will simply be stagnant.

2. Your leads are qualified, but your quotes take forever to make. Maybe you’re an expert in the CRM, but your quoting process happens outside the CRM…and you’re using a spreadsheet to calculate everything manually, and you copy and paste gobs of info from the CRM into this external sheet. Then, there’s the matter of copying this spreadsheet into your clients’ folder for reference. With just a few steps, you already have a 15-30 minute process, and in your fast-paced environment, you probably get pulled away more than a couple of times a day. What happens if that quote doesn’t get to your customer by EOD and your ideal sales cycle is less than a day? You can kiss that one goodbye.

3. Your sales team puts up piddling numbers compared to the top sales rep, who absolutely slaughters everyone else. It’s great to have a star on your team, but if the rest of your crew doesn’t understand the sales process your star follows, or aren’t motivated naturally the same way the star is, your situation will never change – until your star takes off for greener pastures, and then you’ll be in a world of hurt. And, you can’t reasonably depend on that NOT to happen – it’s just the way of the world.

So, you probably get that none of these situations are good. But, how do you rectify them?

It’s Not You. It’s…

You’ll be happy to know (and perhaps you were even anticipating the notion that) all three of these issues can be treated just by changing what you’re doing in the CRM. That means your business model is NOT, in fact, flawed. But, it means you may have a bit of work cut out for you. Try these suggestions on for size:

1. Instead of offering a quote to everyone you contact – or even everyone who contacts you – change your CRM to make it necessary to properly qualify a lead before they are allowed to advance to the quoting stage. At ZBrains, we have something like this already in place! For example, if someone calls us asking for Zoho consulting, we speak to them further, but if they call ZBrains asking for a cup of coffee, we point them next door. This is a very basic example focused on need, but what about authority? Required budget? How about timeline? All four of these are areas about your prospect to consider before ever sending them a quote, and if you’re sending quotes out without first gathering this information and making sure it conforms to YOUR business model, you’re doing too much work.

2. Instead of using an outside system to create and customize your quotes, bring it under the Zoho umbrella. Whether you’re using the CRM’s own Quotes module to send out templates with HTML markup or you’re using a third-party integration or completely custom CPQ tool, anything is possible, and (nearly) anything is better than doing it manually and spending 30 minutes on each one. The CPQ tool, for example, is great for very customized quotes with many possible options, and you can even integrate it with your website, making it so prospects can basically assemble their own quotes – and pay for their products – right there on the spot.

3. Instead of praying the rest of your staff can catch up to your golden calf, standardize a sales process using Blueprint and workflow automation. Chances are your top salesperson has a process that works, so it may do you good to sit down with them and see what it is they do to be successful, then make it imperative that the rest of your crew follow that very same process. Implementing Blueprint in particular means your salespeople have a clear path to follow on each lead and each deal, and makes it so they spend less time THINKING about what they need to do and more time doing…because the required actions are right there in front of them.

Up a Creek

It’s one thing to teach a man to fish, and quite another to outright give him the fish. In this case, we’re talking about different fish restaurants, but we haven’t even decided where to go yet, and on top of that, you’re probably not even sure what kind of fish you want either way.

To rectify this fishy situation, we’d like to talk to you and hear about where your inefficiencies are, and then take some time to totally understand how you do business. That way, we’ll know exactly where the problems lie, and you’ll know exactly how to fix them.

Call us toll-free: (888) 207-4111 and mention “Quote Smarter” for a free 1-Hour CRM Consultation to get the ball rolling for you.

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The Process of Improving your Business

  • The only way to succeed is to put in your time and take your blows.
  • Employees will only work if you crack the whip around them.
  • If you’re leaving less than a cup of coffee, make a new pot or risk certain demise.

Most businesses have maxims they live by – maybe yours is one of those. We all have certain things we harp on each other about, maybe because we know our companies function better when things are done a certain way, maybe just because of personal preference (and, at the end of the day, we all like to be catered to a little bit).

But, when it comes to Zoho CRM, you might be in the dark – especially if you find yourself reading this blog! (There’s no shame in that.)

Here’s another adage for your repertoire: Stick to the process.

You might be nodding your head…or, you might not.

So, what does it mean to stick to the process?

Well, here’s what it DOESN’T mean:

1. Doing the fifteen-step of sales, ops, underwriting, development, accounting, and fulfillment… all in one fell swoop.
2. Going to great lengths to streamline one part of your business while ignoring another part simply because it’s not your area of expertise or you’re getting pushback.
3. Sifting through volumes of abstruse information looking for something that might, just perhaps, be the solution to an equally difficult business problem.

If you weren’t nodding your head before, maybe you are now.

And, if you are… there’s nothing wrong with that.

These are really common problems to have. Running a business isn’t a walk in the park.

However, if you’re using Zoho CRM or Zoho One, you have the tools to help you with problems like those, or at the very least point you in the right direction. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so here’s another maxim, no matter what: Knowledge is power. Without further ado…

Use Zoho to Separate Work Into Departments

If your head is swimming with the scores of complicated (or even mundane) tasks you need to do just to keep your head above water, it probably wasn’t always like that – but, now maybe you’re in a little too deep to come out, stop everything, and figure out how to get your Zoho suite to handle it all.

Rather than perpetuate the cycle of you doing everything yourself, you can take a small step towards improving your lot simply by exploring, turning on, and connecting the various apps in Zoho One to your Zoho CRM:

1. Zoho Projects, great for project-based businesses
2. Zoho Finance Suite, great for any business, even manufacturers and distributors
3. Zoho Desk, great for routing help desk-style inquiries

These apps connect with the CRM in different ways, but all can help you ultimately by conforming to your process if they’re used the right way.

Zoho: Not Just a CRM, and Not Just for Sales

Even after you’ve turned on various Zoho apps, connected them, and even configured them somewhat, there’s no guarantee you’re getting the buy-in you need from your staff, or maybe there’s an area of business you’re letting lag because it isn’t your forte.

If there’s a clear bottleneck in your process, there’s no better solution that using what you already have in Zoho One – a full suite of applications – to solve that problem. For example, if your sales staff has adopted Zoho fully, but operations still tracks their projects on spreadsheets, we recommend introducing Projects at the very least – and perhaps even using the built in custom function (from the Zoho CRM Custom Function Gallery) to create new projects in Zoho Projects when you close deals in Zoho CRM.

Googling: Great for looking up words, terrible for solving complex business process flow problems

When your business’s very success is on the line, the worst thing you can do is continue to spend time doing something that may not necessarily help, like scouring the internet for solutions to issues you have that may be quite complex. Or, worse yet, thinking you’ve found the solution to a problem you have, only to find it isn’t correct because of a simple misunderstanding.

Rather than put yourself through more misery, stick to doing what you do best – running your company – and let Zoho’s built-in AI tell you what you can improve on. Zoho’s AI bot, called Zia, is designed to analyze your daily activities and inform you about where you can possibly save time doing repetitive tasks, as many repetitive tasks can be automated using workflow automation or macros.

Taking Zia’s advice won’t solve the most complex problems, but it will save you valuable time, which could give you just the edge you need to extricate yourself for ten minutes, pick up the phone, and…

Let the Experts Do What They’re Best At

If you’ve already gone through the issues and you’re still stuck behind an insurmountable wall, just remember this. No, not another maxim.

You know your business better than anyone else. We know Zoho just as much. Your best possible version of the Zoho suite is waiting for you somewhere in the middle, and that version of Zoho will be molded, conformed to your processes. Sticking to the process might be a good thing to talk about, and it might be something you wish Zoho would help you do. But, with the proper planning, it’s a real possibility. And, with any execution, it can be a reality.

Call ZBrains toll-free and mention QuoteSmarter for a free 1-hour CRM consultation.