Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

9 Wins for Manufacturers Using Mobile CRM - Part 2: Data To-Go

Today's blog post was written by Kayla Silverstein, Marketing Specialist at Sonoma Partners.

In today’s rapidly paced market, manufacturers must push their products in the right place at the right time. Your field sellers are doing the best they can to meet with prospective clients on-the-go. Are your dated tools slowing them down? If your customer relationship management (CRM) system is only accessible on-premises, your sellers are limited by needing to physically be in the office to enter data. As a result, your sellers are likely to forget key pieces of information from their conversations in the field, and worst case scenario: you aren’t getting access to any of this important data.

What you need is a tool that’s just as mobile as your sellers.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share nine key wins for manufacturing companies using mobile CRM solutions. Are you a manufacturing company with a field sales team? These nine wins should inspire an investment in a mobile application sooner, rather than later. Previously, we covered how CRM mobility provides sellers with the information that matters. Next: data-to-go.

2. Access Critical Data On-the-Go

The most obvious benefit of a mobile CRM application? Constant access to data. With mobility, your sellers can access everything they need in terms of data while on the go. Think of your customers who have access to multiple search methods to evaluate and select products no matter where they go. If you want your sellers to stay ahead of the competition, you must equip them with the proper tools. With CRM, your sales team can immediately access the information they need to best manage their efforts, keep customers engaged, and close deals before prospects search elsewhere.

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You can provide your field sellers with the marketing materials they need at their fingertips. A digital portfolio is faster (and cheaper!) to update with your latest products. Ensure your sellers are pushing the right products to the most accurately targeted clientele by providing them with something that’s easy to navigate, beautiful, and impressionable for your clients. Digital sales kits demonstrate an investment in your sales process when you enable your sellers with such a useful tool. As a result, your clients will be impressed, your sellers happy, and your products purchased at the point of sale, rather than days later when your seller has a chance to go back to the office to forward follow-up materials.

Customer Example: Columbia Distributing

Based in Portland, Oregon, Columbia Distributing is one of the largest malt beverage distributors in the country. They have a 300-person team of field sellers completing onsite surveys to record how stores and bars display their products. They hired Sonoma Partners to improve their existing custom iOS mobile application (previously, it was ridden with bugs and almost incapable of use). When we sat down with Project Manager Alyssa Wood at Columbia Distributing to discuss the project, she shared her thoughts on the improved application:

CTA for Columbia Distributing“We can’t be everywhere at once – with so many field sellers collecting data, we have to have a tool that presents all of our customer information in one place. It’s a competitive business; there’s only so much grocery store shelf space or tap handles in a bar. To keep up, you have to be strategic in how you’re presenting your product to your consumers. We need to constantly evaluate our work and be positioned to collect data in the field, analyze it, and act on those insights. CRM allows us to do this.”

Next Generation Workflow

Mobile CRM is a differentiator from your competition for new talent. Manufacturing is a mature industry. The up-and-coming workforce expect updated technology that allows them to do their work more effectively. The more experienced sales reps, for example, who still manage accounts by writing down information are being slowly replaced by this tech-savvy workforce. This pool of talent, comfortable using smartphones, tablets, and other devices, and digital services, expects to hit the ground running with a tool that capture legacy information and allows them to grow their book of business from there. The fundamental point for companies switching to a CRM system might not be about solving talent issues, but modernizing systems to feel more like the tools employees are used to using outside of work.

Stay tuned for more wins for manufacturers who invest in a CRM mobile application. If you’re interested in learning what might be possible at your organization, contact us.

Topics: CRM for Manufacturing Enterprise Mobility

The ABC’s of CPQ - Part 1: Advanced Approvals through Discount Schedules

Today’s blog post was written by Justin Concepcion (Developer), Diego Gallego (Developer), and Troy Oliveira (Principal Architect) at Sonoma Partners.

Salesforce CPQ (formerly Steelbrick) is one of the most advanced Configure-Price-Quote software available on the market today.

Built natively on the Salesforce platform, Salesforce CPQ can drastically improve the efficiency of your sales organization with fast and easy quoting that leads to more revenue for your business.

In this 5-part blog post series, we breakdown the “ABC’s of CPQ,” listing out the most notable functionalities, features, and best practices of this impressive platform.

To start, we’ll begin with letters “A” through “D”:

A is for Advanced Approvals and Alert Rules

Advanced Approvals

With Advanced Approvals, you can approve quotes according to your personnel and departmental hierarchy. With subsequent features such as Approval Chains, Dynamics Approvers, and Smart Approvals, Advanced Approvals go above and beyond a standard approval process in Salesforce. Set up approval chains of independent approval verticals occurring in parallel within the same approval process. If you’re looking for flexibility in your advanced approvals, this is a critical advantage of Salesforce CPQ’s functionality.

Alert Rules ABCs_of_CPQ_Alert_Rules_300x400

If you’re a rep who must be able to quickly configure product options and needs to do so without hard stops from validations in the underlying Salesforce data model, you’ll find Alert Rules extremely useful. Alert Rules prevent combining incompatible options within a bundle or removing key components of a product configuration. Managing a product set-up without alerts requires manual auditing to ensure each product’s implicit or explicit business requirements are met correctly. Salesforce’s CPQ Alert Rules allow users to assemble quotes with much greater efficiency.

B is for Bundles and Block Pricing

Bundles

Bundles are the building blocks upon which CPQ truly becomes configurable. Salesforce CPQ allows you to customize product bundles for items that need to be included together, or items that have optional features. The amount of variability in setting up bundles is one of the most powerful pieces of Salesforce CPQ functionality because it can be entirely customized to how your business distributes products. When setting up a bundle, you can control the pricing at overall bundle level or within the different options of the bundle.

Block Pricing

Block Pricing allows you to assign a fixed price to a product based on quantity, overriding the automatic calculation of quantity multiplied by unit price. Block Pricing helps for modeling real world business products that do not have a simplistic single price point. Any business without a flat product pricing model will take advantage of the flexibility offered by Block Pricing.

Combining pricing strategies this way works so that, for example, a customer pays a flat fee for purchasing in quantities of 1-25, a different flat fee if they buy 26-50 of that item, and any quantity above 50 could be charged an over price of $1 per unit. Without this helpful tool, you would need to set up duplicate versions of the same product within the system to try to account for the different ways a single product could be priced with simple block pricing configuration.

C is for Customers, Configuration Attribute, Configuration Selection Rules, Contract Pricing, and Constraints

Customers

Salesforce CPQ refers to what is called “Accounts” in Salesforce as “Customers.” Salesforce CPQ uses the existing Account object in Salesforce so that you can leverage your existing Account information when creating quotes for your customers.

Quotes in Salesforce CPQ can be related to your Accounts in Salesforce, helping you identify who you are selling to and how to enter your information accordingly.

Accounts can also be set up to drive some of the automatic pricing and discounts in Salesforce CPQ, using such features as contracted prices and discount schedules. This is especially useful for B2B sellers who want to leverage Account information to create quotes for customers. Automatic pricing and discounts ensures your quotes are always accurate, consistent, and timely for your customers.

Configuration Attributes

Some products may require more configuration or information before they are added to a quote. Configuration Attributes allow you to input that information. You can add any type of Salesforce field as a Configuration Attribute to a product. Sellers who use any sort of configuration products will find Configuration Attributes useful. For example, you can add a picklist that lets you select the color of a t-shirt or a text field that lets you type in a custom message for a banner. Using Configuration Attributes helps ensure that your quotes have the necessary product details before they are passed onto the customer and that no information is missed.

Configuration Selection Rules

Configuration Selection Rules automate product selections on product bundles. Configuration Selection Rules can be used to automatically add, remove, show, and hide products in a bundle. This feature allows you to match real world business rules, such as automatically adding a laptop charger when a laptop is added to a bundle. Configuration Selection Rules also mean fewer clicks for the sales rep as it automates more of the product selections upon creation of the quote.

Contracted Pricing

Using Contracted Pricing means that pricing is always accurate in your quotes. This feature of Salesforce CPQ allows you to set up customer-specific prices for a product or a group of products. You can also set a date range for when these prices should be effective. If you come to any agreements or deals regarding pricing with a select customer, Contracted Pricing makes sure that Salesforce CPQ accurately reflects those prices. You can set up a lower price for a specific product for one customers or you can set up a discount percentage. You can set up any sort of price or discount really, for one product or a group of products, and for a date range or for an open-ended timeframe. Any sellers who negotiate prices with their customers will find this useful.

Constraints

Option Constraints allow product bundles to be configured with product options that act in dependence of each other, either via inclusion or exclusion. They eliminate the need to cross-reference multiple lists of products to ensure compatibility and prevent invalid or missing product selections. We see them most commonly used to automatically select a dependent product to a bundle or disable product options that cannot be sold together. Sales reps will find this particularly helpful when configuring a product that involves several parts and depending on options selected further “up the chain,” downstream products may or may not be valid for selection. Constraints can be used by anyone, but are highly beneficial in manufacturing and service-based industries where the products within a bundle are largely dependent upon other options that have been selected. Ultimately, Constraints reduce the manual effort of ensuring that products are compatible, removing the need to cross-reference multiple spreadsheets, and eliminating the risk of human error as much as possible.

D is for Document Generation, DocuSign Integration, and Discount Schedules

ABCs_of_CPQ_Docu_Gen_300x400Document Generation

Document Generation is the native ability within Salesforce CPQ to produce a PDF output document of the configured quotes, terms and conditions, etc., to be presented to the end customer. Document Generation allows users to produce high quality documentation that can be tailored to their internal branding with the relevant merge data from the CPQ quote. Customers trying to create quotes without Salesforce CPQ would need to either transcribe the quote details into a document template manually or use another third-party document generation tool.

DocuSign Integration

The DocuSign integration in Salesforce CPQ allows reps to distribute documents for e-signatures. DocuSign is a leading e-signature platform and by integrating with DocuSign, Salesforce CPQ brings best-in-class document signature collecting directly into the quoting process. Automatically sending documents to signers, collecting signatures, all while sending status updates into Salesforce so that the sales teams always know what is happening with the quote. Without the integration, the process of collecting signatures is a manual, tedious step. Enjoy this streamlined process directly from Salesforce CPQ to move your quotes along swiftly and easily.

Discount Schedules

Discount Schedules allow for automatic discounting to be set up in a manner that allows for the discount to be dependent on the quantity being purchased. For products where the more of a product is purchased, the cheaper the product is, this can be especially helpful by eliminating the need for manually discounting pricing within the quote. We see this feature most often used by those in the services and manufacturing industry where the first item produced is more expensive than the 100th, passing discounted pricing along to the customer. While this could be managed via manual discounting, Discount Schedules provide an automated approach that reduces human error.

Stay tuned for the next post in our series to read more about the features Salesforce CPQ can offer for fast and efficient quoting.

Questions or looking to get started? Contact us.

Topics: CRM for Manufacturing Salesforce

Day in the Life: Meet Dibbs

Today's blog post was written by Kayla Silverstein, Marketing Specialist at Sonoma Partners.

William “Dibbs” Dibbern shared with us what it’s like to be a developer at Sonoma Partners, his favorite aspects of Sonoma Life, and what it takes to be successful on our technology team.

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How would you describe a typical day in the life of a Sonoma developer?

Dibbs-3Dibbs: Each day is different. Once or twice a week, I’ll have status update meetings on my projects which help to ensure everyone is on the same page, determine what still needs to be worked on, and how we can best move forward. I am rarely in meetings all day – that’s a great aspect of working at Sonoma Partners. They really recognize that most devs do their best work uninterrupted and heads-down. I’m given my space to get “in my flow” and determine how I work best.

What is your favorite part of working at Sonoma Partners?

Dibbs-12Dibbs: I have to say the people. Everyone here is incredibly smart, and I know they have my back. I’ve been here for seven years, and I’m always impressed and inspired by the work ethic of my fellow Sonomans. I also like the variety of the work I do. Every six to eight months or so, I get a new project, a new project team, and a new set of challenges. The work is constantly evolving. And the people are too! We’re a lively bunch, and it makes every day exciting.

Dibbs-13What is your favorite Sonoma perk?

Dibbs: The ability to work when I want, where I want, is huge. Through Sonoma Partners “SWEET” program, I can choose when and where I work best to get something done. It allows me to really get in the zone and work more effectively.

What advice do you have for future Sonoma developers?

Dibbs: Be ready to learn a lot. You have to go in understanding that everyone here is an expert in something, and as much as you might know about such-and-such language or technology, expect to be humbled. I would also encourage new developers at Sonoma to try and be as open in your communication as possible. The sooner you ask a question or communicate an issue, the sooner we’re able to help. I always tell new hires to be more vocal than you feel you should be – we don’t bite! We don’t micromanage here, so raise your hand if you need something. We’re always happy to help.

What do you think it takes to be a successful developer at Sonoma Partners?

Dibbs-9Dibbs: I think showing initiative is an important quality for developers, but you need to be smart about it. When we are asked to fix this bug, or research this item, sometimes it seems easiest to just dive in head first. I find the most successful developers understand the importance of taking a step back, really thinking about what you’re being asked to do, and sometimes questioning whether the designed approach is the right approach. I think it’s great to be someone who understands the difference between just working hard and working smart.

Lastly, be fun! Do more than just getting your work done. Be engaged and involved. We have so many awesome ways to be a part of our culture here – whether that’s volunteering at the Food Depository or attending one of our monthly happy hours. We’re a fun bunch, and I think you enjoy your work more when you take the time to build relationships with your teammates.

Thanks, Dibbs!

Are you interested in joining our tech team? Check out our open positions here.

Topics: Careers at Sonoma