Craft your Dreamforce learning strategy
There is so much to do at Dreamforce, it can be overwhelming. There are some big names speaking (Michelle Obama, anyone?), singing (Lenny Kravitz and Alicia Keys) and crazy parties (list of the hottest here).
While all of the marquee events are a lot of fun, don’t neglect putting some real thought into what your learning goals are for Dreamforce, and be sure to craft an agenda strategy to accomplish them (one of the strategies for Dreamforce covered in a recent blog on this site). If you don’t have some clarity and direction, it’s easy to get sidetracked, overwhelmed, and find yourself after the event feeling like you didn’t get what you wanted to out of it. And your feet will hurt anyway.
Consider structuring your agenda around your end-to-end contract process – here’s why
One approach you can use to inform your planning is to center your approach around your contract lifecycle. Optimizing, automating, and integrating sales processes end-to-end, from gathering data to the creation of the quote to revenue collection and beyond, is increasingly critical for businesses.
To understand why quote-to-cash is an idea whose time has come, there are a couple of points to consider. The first is that contracts are the keystone of any business. They come in many forms, but they are at the heart of every business relationship and define the terms. It therefore, makes sense to build sales processes out from the contract, both up- and down- stream. And the contract originates with the salesperson, which means that sales should be empowered to move that process forward, within established limits that control for risk.
The second thing to keep in mind is that traditionally, contracting has been considered as a distinct process, focused on the creation of the agreement document, often on a separate platform, rather than as part of the broader sales cycle. Bringing contracting into the sales cycle empowers sales teams and integrates related processes across the organization.
It is no longer feasible to handle contracts through multiple, disparate systems of record that require manual, duplicate processes. Agile, cloud-based software that is easy to deploy and configure, thereby creating a flexible, accessible system of record across the organization, is now the preference. Keeping customer data in Salesforce allows other stakeholders to contribute necessary information prior to contract creation, and to access necessary information after deals close. For example, marketing might contribute contact information for the lead, support might supply warranty information, and sales will also contribute to information gathering. After a contract is signed, customer data remains accessible for invoicing, payment processing, fulfillment, service, and support.
Tools to create a seamless end-to-end process
In order to create a seamless process across the customer lifecycle, it is essential to integrate sales solutions. This begins with a powerful data automation tool like Conga ActionGrid, which gives sales access to a comprehensive view of prospect and customer data from a single screen, and facilitates data management and updates. Creating good data processes minimizes errors that can slow sales cycles and leads to visibility into the sales pipeline. That data can then be integrating into Salesforce CPQ for accurate configuring, and precise pricing and quoting.
When it comes time to generate a contract, sales is empowered to draw from that data to quickly create an accurate agreement. Negotiation cycles can be carried out and recorded via tools like Conga Contracts, that integrate into the quote-to-cash tech stack and write all important data and final agreements back into Salesforce. The contract itself can be generated via a document automation solution like Conga Composer, that draws all necessary information from Salesforce to create the templated, perfectly formatted contract.
With these solutions, Sales is empowered to shepherd a deal end-to-end, with minimal friction from the initial stage to the final agreement. This streamlines and accelerates deal cycles, eliminates errors, and gives time back to sales teams to do what they do best: sell.
At the same time that sales is enabled to produce accurate quotes, negotiate terms, and close deals without direct, case-by-case oversight, control is still maintained. Legal can place limits on clauses, terms and conditions that can be used, so that risk is mitigated.
Benefits of quote-to-cash optimization
When sales is empowered to create quotes, negotiate contracts, and close deals, sales productivity soars. Customer information is visible across the contract and customer lifecycle, creating visibility for multiple departments across the organization. Without slow, manual, disconnected processes to trip up the sales cycle, without time-consuming review cycles or frequent errors to slow revenue production, the sales cycle accelerates, and the entire company benefits.
Removing stumbling blocks that slow down sales teams can have multiple advantages, which include:
– Accelerating the sales cycle and quicker time to revenue
– Improving customer experience
– Increasing sales productivity
– Ensuring regulatory compliance
– Improving financial processes and overall transparency
– Creating better insight into business through analytics
Back to Dreamforce planning
So, back to planning your Dreamforce learning strategy. There are some dynamite sessions this year to catapult your learning about how to create quote-to-cash efficiency. In particular, “Next Gen CPQ Meets Next Gen CLM” with Salesforce’s Will Spendlove and Conga’s Kimber Spradlin will look at just how to get this done using Salesforce CPQ and Conga Contracts. Here is a full list of our recommended sessions.
Beyond that, Conga and Salesforce will be talking intelligent quote-to-cash automation at Platinum Booth #1412 in the Customer Success Expo, and at Quote-to-Cash Central at ThirstyBear Brewing Company.