Approvals: Why They’re Worth the Wait

You’re almost there – about to close a deal. With just a few adjustments to the estimate, the customer is ready to sign off. But those changes require approval from your superior and she’s impossible to track down. How frustrating!

By Tracy Larson

You’re almost there – about to close a deal. With just a few adjustments to the estimate, the customer is ready to sign off. But those changes require approval from your superior and she’s impossible to track down. How frustrating!

Sales approval workflows are an important safety-guard for any organization, but they’re also a common source of bottlenecks. For the employee in need of a sign-off, there’s nothing more maddening than awaiting the attention of a superior who doesn’t appreciate the situation’s urgency.

Nevertheless, a firm approvals policy, along with processes to support it, is something that every system integrator business must have. If salespeople have full autonomy to make changes to standard pricing, scheduling, warranties, T&Cs and the many other elements that comprise a proposal, there are just too many opportunities for things to awry. Changes that a sales person feels are necessary to close a deal may deliver a short-term win, but may actually be a poor business decision when viewed in a larger context. Approvals provide those checks and balances.

To be most effective, approval policies need to strike the right balance, keeping tabs where necessary but not creating unnecessary bottlenecks. For example, it makes sense to require new sales people to obtain a supervisor’s sign-off on all quotes but to give established sales people more autonomy, requiring approval for sales above certain thresholds or outside a window of margin. Many organizations establish an approvals hierarchy, where quotes must receive secondary approval from executive management under certain conditions.

Approvals may also be necessary post-sale, as projects move from sales to accounting and operations. Examples including making sure credit checks are completed, executive oversight is taken care of, and various processes, procedures and documentation, are all addressed prior to final acceptance of the sale.

Approval policies vary by organization, but the legwork required to obtain sign offs is a consistent hassle for all companies. That’s where sales management tools can make a huge difference. With the right software, it’s possible to automate the approvals process, making sure estimates are reviewed and approved before they head out the door while eliminating the need for employees to physically track down their supervisors as part of the process. Instead, automated alert notifications let the proper people know when their attention is required, and can even provide a link to estimates in questions. This allows reviewers to provide approvals, comments or changes on the spot. It also keeps working – and approved—versions correct and current throughout your organization.

The checks and balances afforded by carefully designed approval workflows keep your organization running smoothly, eliminating the potential of costly errors. Whether you handle them manually or with the help of software, make sure they receive the attention they deserve. The outcomes they deliver make them well worth the wait.

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