This is the first in an eight-part series looking at the typical failure points in the last mile of the sales cycle, often referred to as the Quote-to-Cash (QTC) process.

Your sales team has focused on winning that big deal for weeks. They’ve pulled in marketing, called in favors with customers, had your product or services experts answer questions, and worked hard to schedule meetings with the right people, combat competitors, and meet the demands of this soon-to-be customer.

The hard work is paying off as the deal comes together in this “last mile” of the sales process. Now, all your team needs to do is create a great offer for your customer, build an attractive price into their quote, and develop a proposal and contract that both you and the customer can agree upon.

But that’s usually easier said than done, right?

Don’t lose everything you’ve worked so hard for by falling down in the last mile of your sales process. After weeks or months of hard work, the most important part of the sales journey is getting across the finish line and winning the deal.

In this eight-part series, we’re going to look at all of the potential areas of failure in the typical Quote-to-Cash (QTC) process and show how effective solutions can mitigate them all. It’s where all of your hard work hinges on a tangled web of sales, marketing, product, services, legal, financial, and other requirements. It’s the difference between you having a new, happy customer, or having a deal stretch even longer as your opportunity becomes frustrated with your delays and requirements, wondering if they made the right choice to engage with you in the first place.

The last, and only, manual mile in your sales process

Think about all of the automation you’ve put into your sales process. You’ve used marketing automation to build awareness, generate leads, and nurture opportunities until they were ready. You’ve used CRM to track your leads as they grew into opportunities, manage each and every touch along the way, and help management better forecast and support deals.

Now that the customer is ready to see an offer, you’re left struggling through a mess of manual processes, using Excel spreadsheets and Word documents to store critical pricing, product, and contractual information that you’re never sure is current or out-of-date.

It’s surprising when you stop to think about it: why would you rely on such manual and error-prone methods to manage the most critical, risky, and detail-oriented portion of the sell?

Breaking down the quote-to-cash process

We see the QTC process as covering everything from the configuration of your initial offer to your customer, through the actual order, billing, revenue recognition and renewals, plus the analytics along the entire path.

What a QTC solution does is more than just automation, however. It turns your risky tangle of Word and Excel docs into a streamlined, controllable, manageable process that actually helps sales reps close more deals, and do so more quickly.

QTC guides your sales reps through the process, eliminating mistakes by giving them only the choices that matter to their current deal. As they make selections, like choosing a particular product, subsequent choices change based on that selection. Reps can then easily create a quote, and even adjust pricing based on their approval levels without getting a manager involved. More so, as products and part numbers are added and changed, these updates are automatically put into the QTC system making training and enablement of your reps much easier.

Behind the scenes, finance and legal can control their part of the process without getting in the way. QTC gives them the confidence to let reps build quotes, adjust prices, and compose contracts without requiring a minute of their own time. Product and services leads can further ensure the required pieces are included with every deal so there are no surprises later. And when a non-standard deal comes along, approval workflows ensure that the deal remains compliant and the right decision-makers get involved.

After the deal is won, it’s not over. QTC helps finance with billing and collection, and helps reps when it’s time to renew a contract or add items from a successful up-sell or cross-sell campaign.

Along the entire process, QTC also helps executives see what’s happening with insights and analytics. Risk levels and pipelines are clear, as are breakdowns of deal sizes, margins, payment terms, and other attributes.

Sound better than your current process? It sounded better for Nimble Storage, and you can check out our customer stories to learn how they both streamlined and accelerated their QTC process.

Next installment

Next, we’ll dive into the initial phase of the QTC process: select & configure. We’ll look at specific examples of where problems usually occur and what automation can do to not only prevent issues, but to speed up the entire process as well.

We’ll also follow a real sales deal as it navigates its way through the QTC process, although we’ll be changing the names to keep everyone comfortable...and employed.