What is lead to cash?
Many businesses today are looking for an “all-in-one” solution for their business apps. These organizations understand the complexities and pain that goes with non-integrated systems and the data silos that are created when different departments each have their own preferred technology.
Data and application silos create process inefficiencies all the way from lead generation to revenue management which leads to impacting the customer experience. Lead-to-cash implements an integrated, technology solution that automates aspects of the sales cycle and makes internal processes more efficient. From lead-to-order software and configure price quote (CPQ) tools to invoicing/collection systems and a fully-functional customer relationship management implementation, sales teams can quickly advance opportunities in their pipeline.
PK partnered with Salesforce because of the software provider’s vision to build a fully integrated, comprehensive, and cloud-based business solution. In the PK world, and in Salesforce speak, we call this “lead-to-cash.” The Salesforce platform enables users across the business to get a 360-degree-view of their customers, including opportunities, orders, cases, product renewals, invoices, payments, and much more.
Salesforce remains one of the best platforms on the market today offering a fully integrated suite of applications to run your entire business whether it’s all Salesforce technology or through integration.
Salesforce has the capability to create workflows between teams; each data point is standardized, each process is mapped end-to-end and each user enjoys a central login.
Lead-to-cash and the new customer journey
New customer expectations require businesses to transform their people, processes, and technology to connect every customer touchpoint to a central database. Often, companies use a variety of systems and apps to run core functions throughout the business, such as sales, marketing, operations, accounting, and more. These apps create data silos and significant process efficiencies, as well as potential missed revenue opportunities. An end-to-end business software solution helps increase selling opportunities while improving customer experience.
This type of transformation doesn’t come without pain. If you’re looking to align your business to the lead-to-cash approach, your technology roadmap and business processes will change frequently to build a more streamlined and integrated operation.
When working in Salesforce, organizations can gain visibility into every touchpoint of their target prospects and customers.
The time is now to start building your lead-to-cash roadmap
Building a roadmap, or strategy, for lead-to-cash business transformation takes careful consideration, the right partner and a commitment from your people to keep innovation moving.
Long gone are the days when it took years to roll out even one new system. But, it still takes time, not only to build the right requirements for your lead-to-cash strategy but to also deploy a fully optimized end-to-end solution.
7 Key business areas to consider
Seven key business areas exist in a lead-to-cash solution. These sections are central to improving your revenue growth and profitability. Keep in mind, we have tried to simplify this, and there are many more areas to consider.
1. Lead generation
Leads come from many sources, including your website, trade shows, or old-fashioned networking. Building a website that converts visitors into leads through landing pages is a crucial starting point in a customer’s journey. Even leads you gather offline, such as trade show attendees or referrals, will likely research your brand through your website so it must be optimized and aligned to their needs.
Your website content management system (CMS), as well as other add-on tools such as Opt-In Monster, must be considered as part of your technology roadmap.
Social media also has become a significant presence in customers’ journeys. Many loyal customers will show their appreciation via social media and this can lead to referrals. If your company chooses to do paid advertisements on social media platforms, you could also see leads trickle in through those outlets.
Make sure the tools you use connect seamlessly to your marketing automation system outlined in step two.
2. Marketing automation
Congratulations, you have leads! Now what? Not all leads are ready to buy from you right away. In fact, a significant amount of time could pass from when a lead first engages with your organization to the time they are ready to purchase your product or service. This process requires lead nurturing through a marketing automation system.
When optimized, marketing automation systems should enable your sales team to focus on the best opportunities at the right time with features such as actionable insights and lead scoring. Additionally, they should create a delightful path for a prospect who receives the right content at the right time to help solve their challenges.
3. Sales management
Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities, and Campaigns must be managed in accordance with your unique processes and with standard processes set forth by the technology.
Your sales CRM is your central database that connects all teams and puts the customer first in your business processes. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that your CRM is optimized and able to speak to other systems through standardized data and end-to-end process workflows.
4. Configure Price Quote
Many modern businesses are still managing price books in Excel but this is difficult to maintain and not easily accessible. This method bogs down the process and creates an opportunity for your competitors to swoop in and provide faster turnaround on quotes. Besides, delivering quotes and invoices in a timely manner is a critical step in the quote-to-cash process.
You need a cloud-based CPQ system, and preferably one native to your CRM such as Salesforce CPQ, to streamline this process and make sure you stay ahead of the competition. CPQ software also ensures consistent, accurate pricing so that your customers can enjoy a more seamless process.
5. Order fulfillment
Managing your orders accurately and on time is an essential part of customer success.
Many advantages emerge when building your operational processes into Salesforce, including automated workflows. Depending on your requirements, there are many order management and fulfillment apps in the AppExchange that integrate with Salesforce. You can also integrate your existing order system or ERP using the Salesforce API.
6. Customer service
Making it easy to do business with you involves a responsive customer service team who can also identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Customer service also must work closely with account managers on cases that may include an upcoming renewal or order cancellation.
Your service team must have access to the same standard data as your sales team, and this is possible through Salesforce Service Cloud. For less complex service environments, you can also use the cases tool standard to the Sales Cloud. Plus, you can consider implementing a partner or customer portal to provide self-service capabilities.
7. Revenue management
You could be doing all of the items above flawlessly but if you have a process that makes it hard to collect payment from your customers, you’ve created a big problem. Integrating Sales Cloud with an ERP or billing system provides the accounting team with better insight into products sold and services delivered. Workflows can trigger notifications when an invoice is ready to be sent. Accounting can easily prepare an invoice while referencing the original quote or opportunity.
To summarize it all up, the benefits of a lead-to-cash approach include:
- Streamlining the transfer of customer information to different departments.
- Supplying sales reps with the necessary tools and knowledge to recommend product bundles and provide upsell and cross-sell suggestions.
- Controlling pricing, including discounts, and minimizing lost revenue.
- Providing customers with more accurate pricing and product availability information.
- Increasing rep productivity by closing more deals with less effort.
- A new sales model—the 360-degree-view of the customer
Businesses usually display several signs when their sales process needs streamlining, including:
- Recognized revenue does not accurately match the number of opportunities.
- The product catalog is complicated and hard to manage.
- Team members are selling product combinations that need reconfigurations after the sale.
- Discounts are overutilized as a negotiation tactic, and there’s no pricing parity across reps.
- The customer’s needs aren’t consistently met by the products they’re offered.
- If it takes too long for customers to receive accurate quotes, leading to dissatisfaction or lost sales.
Using a lead-to-cash approach turns this around. Information about the customer, the product catalog, and pricing are in sync, providing an enhanced experience for both sellers and customers.
Again, having a lead-to-cash approach gives your customers more and helps your company seize valuable opportunities. Additionally, it’s important to remember there are many great options in the Salesforce AppExchange for handling your accounting and invoicing processes. Alternatively, you can use a leading ERP if these don’t fit your requirements, or you can develop a custom ERP to provide the needed functionality.
Stephanie Gaughen is a senior Pardot consultant at PK. She holds a master’s degree in media and communications. She has a passion for entrepreneurship, technology innovation, and next-generation marketing.Tags: CRM, ERP, lead-to-cash, Salesforce