How To Accelerate Quote-To-Cash with Sales Automation

The Quote-to-Cash process should be collaborative, with automation streamlining the whole process, leading to greater efficiency, happier employees, and more satisfied customers.

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Quote-to-Cash
In this Handbook:

There’s a journey to every sale, and all of the steps along the way comprise the quote-to-cash (QTC) process. When it comes to driving revenue in your organization, every pitfall and possibility you’ll encounter is found within the QTC process, which highlights its importance to the goals of Rev Ops.

What is Quote-to-Cash (QTC)?

The definition of quote-to-cash is in its name. Quote-to-cash is a way of referencing the entire sales process end-to-end, beginning with when you give a customer a quote and ending with a collected payment. It therefore covers every function tied to revenue, including sales, account management, customer relations, order fulfillment, billing, and accounts receivable.

 

 

The QTC process can be one of an organization’s greatest assets—or one of its worst liabilities, depending on the effectiveness and efficiency of its component parts and how well they work together. Either way, because there are so many moving parts involved, it presents an enormous opportunity to positively impact your organization’s revenue.

 

 

Often, each step in the process is siloed from the others, leading to critical data ending up in different systems. Even when there are some automated processes in the mix, they’re rarely orchestrated together, end to end.

 

 

Piecing it all together, then, becomes a manual and inefficient process—one that’s also prone to human error, leading to delays and miscommunications. Instead, the QTC process should be collaborative, with automation streamlining the whole process, leading to greater efficiency, happier employees, and more satisfied customers. Here’s how to go about optimizing the QTC process to that end inside your organization.

 

1. Identify the component parts of your organization’s QTC process

There are similarities to every QTC process, but it’s important to identify the specifics of your organization’s particular QTC process. Once you have them mapped out, you can hunt for any inefficiencies, roadblocks, or bottlenecks and begin to resolve them.

 

 

  • What does “good” look like? Documented steps and systems comprising your QTC process, with annotations for issues, accessible to 100% of stakeholders
  • What do you need to achieve that? A map of 100% of the steps comprising your QTC process; a list of all systems and software used by teams within the QTC process; 100% agreement on who is responsible for which step(s)

 

Dig deeper: There is no comprehensive industry-standard list of steps in the QTC process. Broadly, though, you can think of it in three overall sections: it begins with a configure/price/quote (CPQ) step, then you have to handle contract management, and billing and renewals are the third general area.

 

 

To be clearer, components steps within those general areas may be:

 

 

  • Configuration
  • Pricing
  • Quoting
  • Contract/proposal creation
  • Contract negotiation/agreement
  • Contract execution/order processing
  • Invoice creation/order fulfillment
  • Billing
  • Renewal/cross-selling/upselling
  • Data analysis and reporting
 

While you’re looking for ways to automate and streamline processes, it’s crucial to keep in mind that your goal is not to make better machines, but to better empower your teams. The employees working within the various parts of your QTC process, and the customers they’re working with, should always be your focus; happy employees do great work, and happy customers provide repeat business.

2. Control for consistency and quality

Once you identify process inefficiencies, you should begin systematically eliminating them. There’s a software solution available for virtually every conceivable step in the QTC process. With a clean data pipeline and automated tools, you’ll curb errors that interrupt an effective QTC process.

 

 

  • What does “good” look like? Clean data pipeline; solutions in place for 100% of steps and processes that can be automated for efficiency and accuracy
  • What do you need to achieve that? Tools that make steps more efficient and accurate (eg, CRM, ERP, document generation, branded templates, esignatures, contract management, custom/automated pricing, ebilling, revenue recognition, etc.)
 

Dig deeper: All manual work provides a vector for errors, simply because humans are directly involved. Therefore, any time you can automate a process, you reduce the likelihood of errors. This is a necessary step before you try to speed up the QTC process; before you can move fast, you have to be accurate and precise. Bumping into errors and process inefficiencies more quickly is not an improvement.

 

 

Don’t forget to focus on what’s working well, too. For example, if your team is having success using a particular tool, work to preserve it even as you bring in new and different solutions for other parts of the QTC process. As you round out your spate of solutions, be wary of introducing too much operational complexity; you’ll want to tie it all together with process orchestration.

3. Accelerate the entire QTC process

With the component parts and pieces of your QTC chain improved through automation, and process inefficiencies addressed, you need to look for ways to accelerate the entire journey. To do so, you need to unsilo each part and integrate them into a unified process with a process orchestration platform like Tonkean.

 

 

  • What does “good” look like? Seamless, integrated orchestration of 100% of QTC steps and processes
  • What do you need to achieve that? Orchestration platform or all-in-one QTC solution
 

Dig deeper: One option for accelerating the QTC process is opting for an all-in-one solution that promises to do everything. It’s convenient in that sense, but the downsides are that you’ll typically need to pay for extensive support (or hire a specialist) and deal with the perils of vendor lock-in. The alternative is employing an orchestration platform that allows you to integrate any and all of the individual solutions you’ve implemented.

 

The latter allows you to keep anything that’s already working while introducing additional tools to address remaining issues in your QTC process.

4. Continuously improve the QTC process

Improving your QTC process is not a one-and-done operation.You should always look for ways to make improvements and find ways to better empower your teams to do more fulfilling and effective work. If you’ve found and eliminated errors and inefficiencies and accelerated the entirety of the process, this step is easy.

 

 

  • What does “good” look like? Baseline performance data and related KPIs; at least quarterly check-ins with each team involved in the QTC process to see what’s working (or not) for them; systems in place to iterate on identified areas of improvement; report-driven updates to processes
  • What do you need to achieve that? Clean data pipeline; automated reporting; unsiloed communication between teams; orchestration and automation platforms that are truly no-code in nature, meaning they’re conducive to iteration and agile process improvement by non-technical users
 

Dig deeper: Improving your QTC process in the ways outlined above creates a virtuous cycle with an organic impetus and path towards improvement. You need to get better, not just faster. There are cascading benefits. Your sales teams will be more productive, and there will be fewer errors, and the process will therefore be faster. Empowered teams with better tools will be able to be more creative and insightful when it comes to creative pricing and cross-selling and upselling opportunities. You’ll see revenue impact through more efficiency, reduced costs, and happier customers. Happy customers, of course, tend to be repeat customers, and the cost of acquiring new customers is higher than ensuring renewals.

 

Want to read more handbooks like this one? Check out the Ops Academy. And if you’re ready to learn more about how no-code automation can help Ops level up, sign up for a Tonkean trial.

Glossary of terms

  • QTC – Quote-to-cash (aka “Q2C”)
  • Rev ops – Revenue operations
  • CPQ – Configure/price/quote
  • Automation – the creation and application of technologies that minimize manual human labor or intervention
  • CRM – Customer relationship management
  • ERP – Enterprise resource planning
  • KPI – Key performance indicators
  • Renewal – When customers extend doing business with a seller
  • Cross-selling/upselling – Encouraging customers to make additional purchases related to an existing purchases/upgrade or enhance an existing purchase

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