Are Supply Chain Issues Stressing You Out? Stay Calm, Take a Deep Breath, and Get Yourself Some Quoting Software

A wise woman once said, “%$#@ happens!” There are so many things in life that we just can’t control. These days, supply chain issues are currently responsible for a whole bunch of ‘em! Here’s some advice from security integrators shared about growing their organizations in today’s volatile business climate.

By Tracy Larson

Manufacturers are raising prices at a record clip. Parts are out-of-stock, with no indication of when they’ll be available. It’s hard to find qualified workers to hire, and they’re commanding higher wages when we do. Learning not to stress about things you can’t control is part of having a healthy mental outlook. So is determining what you can control and focusing on that.

As security integrators, we can control how we communicate with customers regarding supply chain issues during the sales process, develop work-around strategies, and quote pricing that won’t come back to haunt us. Using sales management and quoting software can help. At WeSuite’s annual Summer Workshop, which we just wrapped up, many of our clients shared how they’re combining WeSuite’s flexible quoting tool features with well-honed communication skills to navigate these unprecedented times. Here’s what they told us:

Have Conversations Up Front

Nobody wants to be hit with surprise costs. However, customers understand that supply chains are a mess and will appreciate any efforts you make up front to discuss and plan for the challenges their project may realistically encounter. Together, you should agree on a plan of action. Are they willing to substitute certain parts with others if availability becomes an issue? If the alternatives cost more, would they increase their budget or rather wait? For how long? Would they prefer partial delivery of the project, even if labor will cost more if installation is done in two phases? Understanding the customer’s priorities can help you approach quoting within the proper framework. Plus, if problems do arise, the client will perceive you as a problem solver who is on their team – not as an adversary.

Have Access to Current Data

In today’s crazy market, last week’s prices may as well be last year’s! Before you issue a quote, you must be certain that the price lists you’re using are the most recent available. When sales estimating software is integrated with your company’s accounting platform, any updates appear immediately within the estimating tool. As long as the accounting department is on top of their game, you’ll be too.

There are other safeguards that sales management software can offer too. For example, WeSuite clients benefit from real-time integrations between WeSuite and the PSA catalog, ADI dealer member pricing, and others. WeSuite also allows sales representatives to upload manufacturer-supplied product pricing spreadsheets directly to estimates with just a click, providing the most accurate pricing, without affecting the underlying companywide database.

Add Padding Where Possible

Customers understand that you need to make a profit. They don’t need to be exposed to the nitty-gritty of where your profits lie. A customer may respond differently to two quotes for the same total price, depending on whether they perceive pricing for materials, labor, and miscellaneous items to be fair. Using quoting software to add burden to materials, or auto-calculate and add increased shipping costs, are easy ways to effectively include costs without making specific price increases glaringly obvious.

Put It in Writing

Sales Management Software makes it easy to turn estimates into comprehensive proposals that include clearly written scopes of work, Terms & Conditions, and other supporting documentation. WeSuite clients are reviewing the language in their proposal documents and adding caveats to cover their bases and to memorialize conversations regarding supply chain options and solutions. For example, they’re shortening the expiration date of their proposals, stating that if not signed within 30 days, they have the right to requote, or they are indicating that additional charges may apply due to supply chain challenges, or, that the customer has approved certain substitutions for items with known delays.

Present Clear Options

Earlier, we mentioned the importance of having conversations up front in which you clarify how your customer would like to handle various problem scenarios, should they occur. The follow-up to that advice is to put those options in writing.

Quoting software allows integrators to provide a list of options and pricing within a proposal. You can say to customers, “Here’s what cameras from manufacturer A will cost, and here’s the price if we substitute them with models from manufacturer B. Completing your installation in one onsite visit will incur this much labor; a second trip will add this much more.” Customers can indicate which options they want, and the software takes care of creating a final contract with correct calculations.

If a customer prefers to put options on the back burner, everything can be preserved for later and stored safely within the system. The integrator duplicates the project, then deletes the “options” from the quote to be signed now. On the copy, just the options are saved. When the customer is ready to proceed with phase 2, the salesperson is ready to go. They just need to check that pricing remains valid.

Delivering Customer Satisfaction

Here’s the bottom line. If not handled correctly, supply chain issues can sour the relationship between integrators and their customers, impacting the project at hand, plus the potential for future business.

Quoting software is not a magic wand that can make missing parts fall from the sky, but that’s okay. Most customers don’t expect us to work miracles. They do expect us to be fair, forthright, and flexible. For that, quoting software and sale management solutions are the perfect toolkit.

How have you been navigating supply chain issues with the help of WeSuite? Please share! We all win when the security industry gets high marks in customer satisfaction.

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