Most of your customers approach you with a general, open question about a product. But some of them have already devised a solution and ask you to submit a quote by means of a request for proposal based on a list of non-negotiable requirements. Those situations are always tricky. You always end up in a price war if the requirements listed are very common – and you don’t often come out on top. If the requirements are particularly specific to the customer, you are forced into time-consuming procedures with a lot of back and forth between Sales and Engineering and quotes that your sales staff take a long time to produce. After all, you will need to offer the customer a good explanation. Moreover, only a small number of the quotes actually become orders. It’s really a waste of time but saying no isn’t an option – some of the requests seem very promising. On the other hand, you are not always happy with an order either. You have already encountered several situations in which you didn’t deliver the right products, even though the order was based on pre-formulated requirements. It turned out that the product features did not match the customer’s wishes. There were misunderstandings despite the amount and detail of the communications. And it really cost a lot of money.
Sofon puts you in a position to help customers that make requests based on requirements they have formulated, quickly, easily, and problem-free, and to send them quotes with 100% reliable solutions that are both feasible and permissible. Preparing a quote will take hours instead of days or weeks. Even if customers want to add or change the requirements, you can still process those changes immediately. And Sales and the underlying divisions won’t need to spend a lot of time talking about the quote to arrange everything. The customer’s requirements are automatically applied to the specifications of the parts the plant uses to make the product.
Your source is the knowledge model that you have drawn up in Sofon (configuration management). In that model, you describe a coherent visualization of all your product options, together with their specifications, the applicable legislation and regulations, prices, and relevant stipulations. That knowledge can be accessed at a central point, which means it is available to your sales people – including your partners’ and resellers’ sales staff – who can use that knowledge to prepare quotes and contracts using the smart questions you have also recorded in Sofon. Those questions are formulated to include all possible applications of your product because you know your market.
The text in the quotes is always composed in the customer’s language so that the customer can understand the text and judge whether the solution meets their needs.
You can improve all the aspects of solution definition as well as your requirements management by introducing smart processes: needs analysis, calculations, solution design, special request definition, and visualization.