If you were in telecom a decade ago, you'll remember when it seemed like every telecom Provider that played in the Channel was talking about their need to have a portal to provide quotes and information to agents. Channel Managers insisted that Marketing needed to provide a portal if they were going to have any chance at attracting and retaining agents. Sales leaders championed portals as the holy grail of lead generation. Agents, well Agents, they just wanted the information they needed without having to call a bunch of people or wait on anyone.
For the majority of businesses, the desire to handle lead to cash workflow processes in as few systems as possible has a strong attraction. Most organize their processes around a strong CRM and compliment that with an integration to their order/provisioning/billing system. There are several complex services that pull businesses into more systems, but one such service is quoting.
Being the Texan that I am and knowing how I love to grill, BBQ, and smoke meat, this thought popped into my head: When you’re shopping around and searching for solutions to optimize your business, increase sales, and drive profitability do you want the pork belly or the whole hog?
The term quoteception is meant to be a play on words related to the 2010 science fiction thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio called Inception. In the film, Dom Cobb (Leonardo’s character) spends his time in a dream world using dream technology in corporate espionage activities. As the story progresses, they move into deeper layers of dream states with each layer becoming more complicated and potentially impactful. As things get more complicated, Dom uses a spinning top to know if he is still in a dream or back in reality. If the top spins without falling, he knows he is still in a dream and if it falls, he knows it is reality.
As software developers, we spend a fair amount of time listening to folks struggling with the question of whether to build “it” themselves or buy a SaaS solution that does “it.” This question seems never to escape their purview as they work through their discovery process. The challenge I’ve seen time and again, beginning with this cost comparison approach, is that in almost every instance the effort and priority given to come to the answer to this question derails companies from the most critical questions they should consider for their business. Unfortunately, as a result, the most important questions a business should be asking are the ones that are never asked.
We all know the tension that can be maintained between sales and operations. Even the best teams struggle with the quality of new orders and the ability to deliver on customer expectations. A slightly misaligned product configuration from a salesperson can produce quota attainment, but that same sale can translate into a missed installation interval for the project manager assigned. Round and round we go … doing our best to hit the sales number and also hit the installation-revenue numbers. All the while dealing with challenging customers who don’t understand or appreciate the complexity behind the scenes.