When you have enough volume to justify it, a good quoting tool can be a great investment. It integrates your sales prospects and customer information from your CRM and PSA. Then it integrates information from your favorite distributor or reseller, such as Ingram Micro, SYNNEX, or D&H.
That last bit is the real selling point for a quoting tool. You can enter a part number and see real-time pricing and warehouse availability across all of your distributors. You can also download pictures and product descriptions, so your proposals look professional.
The result is that you can compare prices across distributors and buy the parts for the lowest price. Then, once you're ready to order, you can order from within your quoting tool and even track your order through their system.
Recently, the feature lists for these products have expanded considerably. You can have clients e-sign their proposals to create orders, then have the tool generate an invoice, and the client can pay you online straight from the quote.
I saw one demo in which the quoting tool integrated with the RMM system to automatically generate proposals based on events trigger in the RMM. For example, if a machine continually exceeds memory thresholds, the RMM sends a note to the quoting tool, the quoting tool looks up the memory needed and generates a proposal. Then the quoting tool creates a ticket in the sales module of the PSA and assigns it to the sales rep for that client.
As we mentioned in the last chapter, the power of integration is driving a lot of software development in the I.T. industry. These products integrate with every piece of your sales process, including Microsoft Office and online services such as Salesforce.com.