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.
CPQ (configure price quote) is a term used to describe simple catalog quoting. Most CRMs have this type of capability, but there are significant limitations to how to roll out quoting to your users and partners. Quoting as a Service (QaaS) refers to a complex quoting capability that can be accessed from any system that has limited CPQ capabilities but needs complex quoting services. An example I am uniquely familiar with are the complex quoting needs in the Telecommunications, IT and VAR industry.
Telecom Providers and Agents need systems that integrate the front end of the sales process (lead generation and marketing) with the sales portion of the process (quoting, proposals & documents) and delivers a sale to the system that handles orders, provisioning, inventory and billing. When you need complex quoting, companies find themselves sacrificing quoting and sales distribution scalability for all the benefits of their favorite CRM that handles CPQ but cannot meet the complex quoting needs.
- Sales personnel spend inordinate amounts of time building quotes instead of selling product
- Business process owners find it easy to automate most parts of the lead to cash workflow, but they don’t have a solid solution for automating complex quoting for sales personnel and partners
- IT organizations find themselves overwhelmed with API integration requests and maintenance
- IT organizations are forced to build proprietary complex quoting products that work with the CRM of choice
The following categories are needed to meet the complex quoting needs:
- Automate the collection of quoting requirements from sales personnel and partners (link to the form blog post)
- Integrate with the product catalog
- Integrate business rules to allow only the right combination of products to be quoted together
- Obtain costs from the correct assets or partners
- Markup the products dynamically based upon key variables such as who is asking for the quote (internal employees, partners that sell, partners that buy)
- Eliminate quotes that do not match the stated requirements
Quoting as a Service is a concept that allows a business to use complex quoting as a microservice that can be embedded into an existing CRM/OSS or accessed through a single API. In a great article by Andrew Dent from Mulesoft (Microservices versus APIs), he describes the building services like lego pieces, and that is precisely our approach to building complex quoting as a service.
For companies that cannot afford to disrupt their business workflow but desperately need complex quoting, this is a new strategy that can hit the mark. IT organizations are already maxed out unable to meet all of the business needs. If IT can write to one API to unlock the quoting capability of hundreds of underlying services, we believe that is the key to enhancing any CRM or back office platform with the complex quoting capability.
At MasterStream, our strategy involves advancing our leadership position in complex telecom quoting by empowering the most widely used CRMs/OSS products on the marketplace but also enabling proprietary systems that need to access QaaS through one API integration.