“Your offer is much too expensive, we have received significantly cheaper offers.”
“The content of the offer does not meet our expectations and requirements.”
“Your offer came too late, we have already decided on another provider.”

If you hear these or similar arguments from prospective customers in the course of your offer process, this indicates that there is potential for optimizing your processes. In doing so, both external and internal challenges must be mastered.

As a machine and plant manufacturer, you know the complex processes along your value chain best. Even the quotation process, which is at the very beginning, requires maximum precision, speed and expertise. But how can this process be successfully optimized so that inquiries and offers are also turned into orders? In this blog post, we would like to provide you with 5 key tips that support you in establishing optimal quotation processes.

Tip #1: Analyze your current offer process

At the beginning of every optimization, there is first an analysis of one’s own current situation. Here, four significant factors must be taken into account with regard to the offer process: Time, quality, price and the individuality/adaptability of your service to the requirements of the prospect. These factors are ultimately decisive for whether a prospective customer decides for or against you. It is therefore particularly important to analyze your own processes and structures in order to be able to derive optimization potential from them.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is involved in the offer process?
  • What steps take place from the customer’s initial inquiry to the order?
  • What is the average duration from inquiry to quotation?
  • How are requests processed?
  • Where are quotes processed and the individual (working) versions stored?
  • What tools support you in the quotation process?
  • What feedback or requests for improvement do you receive in response to a quote? (What conclusions can you draw from this for yourself with regard to the four factors of time, quality, price and individuality)?

By answering these questions, you will most likely already be able to derive the first optimization potentials for yourself and your processes. The following four tips address different aspects of your quotation process: Inquiry management, offer presentation, the right tools, and automation options.

Tip #2: Develop an effective request management system

Today, in many companies, documents are still frequently printed out and filed away in folders from department to department in the inquiry process in order to be further processed, checked and supplemented there. If this process is not yet tool-supported today, a lot of time is needed to gather information and documents. However, it is much more efficient to use a central document repository right from the start. This means fewer sources of error and every department has complete transparency of all information at all times (more on this in Tip #5).

As the inquiry management process continues, with the prospect in mind, these tips can also be helpful:

  • Arrange an appointment for an initial exchange with the prospect (e.g.: via Microsoft Teams) and prepare with a detailed analysis of the current situation
  • Use a standardized questionnaire to collect all relevant information and requirements, which is used in every initial appointment
  • Place success stories before the offer is made to convince the prospect with your expertise
  • Highlight the benefits and advantages of your systems and machines for the interested party/customer and inspire them with your know-how.

Tip #3: Optimize the preparation of your offers

PRESENTATION AND STRUCTURE

It is often underestimated how important the presentation of an offer is. Are you aware that each offer represents your company? Therefore, make sure that your offers are presented in a uniform manner with recognition value and a personalized approach.

But a clear structure is also essential – create offers that are benefit- and sales-oriented. It is crucial that the prospective customer feels understood. It is therefore a good idea not to jump straight in with prices and technical details, but rather to first reiterate the customer’s requirements, wishes and project goals, and to address the benefits and added value for the customer.

OFFER PRESENTATION

The offer generation process should also be clearly defined so that an offer can be sent to the prospective customer quickly, even across several departments. Until now, the method of sending has been via e-mail with attachments in the majority of companies – but with a limited user experience, problems in version handling and no tracking options. For existing customers, it is a good idea to use the customer portal to provide offers. In this way, individual information and documents can be provided directly to the customer. The advantages for you as a machine and plant manufacturer are obvious: You can address your customers individually and offer the perfect all-round service! At the same time, the use of the portal can be easily tracked to generate important insights for the further course of negotiations.

Tip #4: Use the right tools to support your offer process

The right tools make a significant contribution to a more efficient quotation process. This is because it is particularly important to maintain an overview at all times in mechanical and plant engineering, where complex requirements from prospective customers and complicated, lengthy decision-making processes are the order of the day.

This is where CRM comes into play – with CRM, you achieve an end-to-end process from initial contact to invoicing. At any time, you have a 360┬░ view of every prospective customer and all important information is available in one place.

By using the itmX crm suite, you benefit in the quotation process from, among other things:

  • complete integration into your SAP quotation management
  • direct integration of CPQ solutions
  • cross-departmental collaboration through Microsoft Teams integration
  • quotation creation at the push of a button – incl.
  • versioning of documents in case of subsequent changes
    Uniform document storage, structuring and versioning
itmX Chancenradar Screen

Discover on our expertise page “Mechanical and Plant Engineering” how they can also increase the productivity of your entire value chain beyond the quotation process.

To the expert page

Tip #5: Automate steps in your quoting process

In the quotation process, several starting points open up for intelligent automation. A CPQ can be used to generate quotation documents automatically and no longer have to create them manually. With this tool, you can configure your variants easily and quickly and benefit not only from saving time but also from minimizing errors.

But Microsoft Power Automate can also be used to automate your processes:

  • Workflows: Workflows can also be established, for example, to simplify bid approval processes and enable bid approval in popular management tools such as Microsoft Teams or Outlook. In addition, automatic surveys can be generated and sent to the contact person when a quote is rejected and wants to know more about the background.
  • Infoflows: But infoflows can also be used to optimally maintain the flow of information between the parties involved in the quotation process. For example, if an order is won, automated posts can be sent to the entire sales team containing all relevant information.
    Reminders: To ensure that no deadlines are missed, it makes sense to establish reminders that take into account existing validity periods of individual offers or resubmission dates. This ensures that no tasks are left undone.
  • Automation (RPA): One starting point can be to automate monotonous, recurring work steps that occur anew in every quotation process with the help of workflows. This avoids errors and leaves you more time for really important tasks.

Would you like to learn how the Modern Workplace can be implemented in mechanical and plant engineering? –

Download the free e-book now and harness the power of Microsoft 365 and the best CRM for SAP customers! (avaliable only in German)

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About the author
Elfriede Koch
Elfriede KochSenior Expert Sales
Elfriede has a degree in business administration. She uses her business thinking to guide clients in the design and implementation of customer-centric solutions. In the last 10 years, her focus has been primarily in the areas of service and sales. She supports customers on the way to digitalization of their sales and service departments. In doing so, she equips them with suitable, future-oriented systems with the goal of keeping an eye on the customer journey.