Let’s start with two questions about sales quotes and order processing—issues that are baffling many businesses running strong CRM and ERP systems. Why are salespeople still spending so much time building quotes, instead of focusing on customers and opportunities? Why do ERP teams still spend hours processing quotes into production orders?
For many companies, small and large, investing in cutting edge CRM solutions has become essential to success. Teams and companies need a customer-centric system that aligns with a demand-driven marketplace. Custom needs, pricing pressures, and a rough economy drive “faster, better, cheaper” competition for fickle customers. Agile sales and service require a full solution. Dynamics CRM offers rich automation and workflows for collecting detailed information about customer, leads, and opportunities. Sales automation is a key feature designed to save time and ensure accuracy. Quoting workflows are transparent and alerts help ensure tasks are complete and correct. There’s much more the system offers, and it’s a market leader. But there’s critical integration missing between CRM and ERP data that could speed quote to order from hours to minutes. A configure-to-quote solution like the e-Con Sales and Product Configurator, offering full integration with both CRM and ERP can make than happen.
CRM speeds follow-up and customer knowledge for quotes—what about product knowledge?
Let’s take a closer look at the questions that began this discussion. A winning quote does depend on the informed, current customer knowledge Dynamics CRM delivers. But it also depends on sales ability to work with products, options, and associated costs.
ERP holds that knowledge. But even great solutions that can work together, like Dynamics CRM and ERP, deal with data connection gaps that add hours and lock up knowledge when building quotes and orders. An example: Jim adds a lead to CRM. He has access to product pricing and can work seamlessly with Excel and Word for calculations and quote information. But the initial quote-building process still requires moving back and forth across applications and the need to actually go into ERP to obtain more product information.
Sending a quote to a customer is only the start. Modifications will involve customers and multiple teams, eating time even before order approval, when engineering needs to take the baton and manually create articles and BOM, including pricing, in ERP. CRM lets sales work deftly with customers, but CRM and ERP disconnect add time and prevents sales from working deftly with product knowledge. Good news—e-Con integrates with both Dynamics CRM and ERP to give sales true product expertise and enable one process that ends with one click for converting quote to an order.
One process, one UI—quote to order goes from hours to minutes
Jim cam can open e-Con within CRM, then simply clicks ‘Configure’ to add a quote. e-Con, from within Dynamics CRM, takes Jim through a flexible but firm Guided Selling process that starts with smart questions for specific products and options. The problem of accessing product information from ERP no longer exists. E-Con integrates fully with both CRM and ERP. Working in real-time, it pulls together all CRM information and all ERP information. All customer account details—the 360 degree view from location to the most granular discount or preferences—connect accurately with ERP information about actual products—stock levels, availability, costing, all feasible configurations, time to delivery…. When Jim clicks ‘Configure’ he starts the process that closes critical gaps between CRM and ERP across quote through delivery.
e-Con Guided Selling gives Jim the details, prompts, search tools, and more that let him offer expert product recommendations and alternatives. He does not need to open ERP and search product details, he does not need to be a product expert, but he can quickly access expert information and configure complex options with confidence. That’s important in a world of savvy customers who know about the products they want and the businesses that provide them. Working with e-Con, Jim can show customers when choices aren’t feasible and quickly find other options. He can tell customers instantly how their choices impact availability, pricing, timing, and more. That goes for simple to complex, cross many industries.
Jim can finish the quote without ever leaving the e-Con window or CRM. He’s been engaged in one process that didn’t involve manual intervention or need to ask questions from ERP. He simply saves the quote, hits the ‘create document’ button, and with another click sends a quote—one that includes all specifications—to the customer. Dynamics CRM automatically changes quote status to “sent.” Changes are a simple open, add, and save task—data spreads across the CRM and ERP system. And there’s a huge added benefit for ERP. They no longer need to work with a quote or order-in-process to input, calculate, modify, and verify manufacturing data from across the org. Because the e-Con rules engine holds all that information, already configured and mapped to the quote, Jim can convert the quote into a sales order that includes BOM and routing. In many cases, the means production can start within minutes.
The benefits are obvious, and even if a complex quote does take time, it’s a coherent, connected process that combines sales and product knowledge, all within Dynamics CRM, saving time, overhead, and errors. We’ve got a movie that shows more. Dive in, and look forward to articles about the ERP end as well.