The Quote to Cash Tour


  • Jay Allen
  • Viewpoint
  • April 25, 2016

I was recently anointed Senior Marketing Consultant at Advanced Technology Group (ATG), and one of my primary duties is to travel the country, educating the unwashed on Quote to Cash and Monetization.

A four-day bus ride landed me in Topeka, Kansas. Below is the dialogue from the keynote given in front of about 200 people.

“My name is Jay Allen, I’m from Advanced Technology Group – we call it ATG – and we’re headquartered just up the road a piece in Overland Park. Yes, thank you. Great place. I, however, work out of our offices in Missoula, Montana.

“Uh, Montana is a state, ma’am. Think of it as south Canada, or West Dakota.

“Anyway, I’m here today to talk to you about Quote to Cash. Q2C, to those of us in the trenches. As I look around the room I see a lot of blank stares and slack jaws, so I’m going to assume many of you are confused as to what Quote to Cash is all about. Well, I’m here to clear it all up for you. First let me draw you a very simple diagram.”

See? Simple. Seven chevrons. I’ve left a few out just to simplify things for you. Lead, Opportunity, Quote, Contract, Order, Provision, and Bill. These simple steps are a company’s view of the customer’s journey through the buying process.

“Now, generally you hear a lot about Quote to Cash with big service-provider, business-to-business companies in negotiated-selling environments. But let’s break the concept down to the lowest common denominator – McDonald’s. That’s right, McDonald’s.

“If we start at the beginning with Lead, who represents McDonald’s Leads? Well, I’d tell you that their Leads are everyone driving, biking, or walking past one of their restaurants. Day or night. See, McDonald’s isn’t generally a destination, it’s a convenience. I’m hungry. It’s there. Let’s eat.

So if all this traffic is considered Leads for McDonald’s, who are the Opportunities? The Opportunities are everyone that pulls into their parking lot or drive-thru.

“In general, an Opportunity is anyone who visits your store or restaurant, navigates to your web site, clicks on your ad, searches your business on Google, or emails or calls your company. They are all Opportunities, whether they know it or not.”

“The next step in our diagram is Quote. At most large B2B companies, this is the crucial step and where the real selling begins. Does the value offered meet or exceed the price and terms that have been set? No? Do it over. Negotiate. Value-add. Discount. Always be closing. That’s how ‘The Suits’ do business.

“In our McDonald’s example, the entire Product Catalog is neatly laid in front of potential customers in the form of a menu board. Here’s what we offer, here’s what it costs. Looking for a deal – well, we’ve bundled some of your favorites together in these Value Meals over here.

“Now… wait for it… would you like to super-size that? Ah, the up-sell. Maybe it didn’t originate at McDonald’s, but it was certainly made famous there.

“I’ve gotten a bit off the rails – sorry, back to our diagram.

“While the customer is looking over the Product Catalog (menu board), and placing their order, the Quote is being captured by the cash register and displayed for you on the little screen. As the employee finishes your quote, there is an unwritten Contract about to be triggered. That contract says, I’ll give you food if you give me money. Pretty simple and, although it’s unwritten, it’s binding. In large negotiated deals between companies, contracts are king. They spell out in very specific language who gets what from whom and for how much paid over what period of time. Lawyers involved and everything.

“Back to the counter at McDonald’s. Fifteen minutes after you say, ‘So, tell me about your burgers,’ you’ve decided on what you’ll have and place your order – the #4 Value Meal and step five in our Q2C diagram – Order. You pass on the super-size up-sell, but can’t resist their apple pies, so you buy six to keep in your desk drawer at work for later.

“That’ll be $12.86, please,” says the young man behind the counter.

“What? you say. “The Quote to Cash diagram says I should be provisioned before I’m billed!”

“It’s true. It does. In most businesses you pay after delivery. But McDonald’s doesn’t have a customer accounts receivable, and, really, you’re never more than 15 feet from your food anyway. You’re just going to have to trust that they hold up their end of that unwritten contract. So, you pay and, a few minutes later, your food is ready and you pick it up at the counter or drive-thru window. Provisioning and Billing are nearly synchronic.

“There. You’ve just been Quote-to-Cashed. Pretty simple, right?

“What you didn’t experience in your short visit to their restaurant, was all of the behind-the-scenes people, processes, and technology it took to make sure your visit went precisely as both you and they had planned. Now imagine a company that offers products and services via multiple channels (stores, kiosks, trade shows, online, and partner and affiliate networks), sells their services on a subscription basis to other companies with multiple divisions and users with each needing a separate monthly invoice. And, perhaps, that company also tracks Usage of the service they provide, and bills its users when they exceed their allotment. And don’t get me started on Revenue Recognition and Financials.

“The Quote to Cash diagram doesn’t necessarily change much – we probably add back in the few chevrons we left out for our McDonald’s example, but the customer journey is very similar. Lead, Opportunity, Quote, Contract, Order, Provision, Bill.

“What does change are those behind the scenes people, processes, and technologies I just referred to. They’re rarely apparent to the customer or client, but they are there. Hang on… I’m going to give you a little peak behind the curtain of Quote to Cash. One moment please.”

I reach into by back pocket and retrieve a folded piece of paper. Carefully and with my back to the audience, I unfold the paper. I lay it face-down on a nearby table and gently iron it with the palm of my hand. I turn to face the crowd. The tension in the room is palpable.

“In my hands I have the keys to the kingdom, the secret to the inner workings of Oz, the Holy Grail of Consulting. I give you the MONETIZATION ECOSYSTEM!”

Gasps and shrieks filled the room. Some shielded their eyes, while one guy in the front slumped in his chair, unconscious.

“What’s it do, mister?”

“Well, for some of us, it’s the answer to all of life’s questions. For others, it provides a comprehensive view of the technology components that are relevant to managing customers and revenue in rapidly evolving service provider industries.”

More gasps. A pair of men’s pants land on the stage.

“This is but the simplified version – I have five others – each more detailed and full of wonderment than the first. They decode each of these domains into smaller subdomains, and then break them down to the People, Processes,Technologies, and, yes – even Vendors – within each.”

“It’s breathtaking! Please tell us more!” pleaded several men in matching suits. One appeared to be crying.

“I’d love to, but it’ll have to wait for another day. I’ve got to be at another wedding across town in 20 minutes. Thank you, everyone. Oh, and a toast – to the Bride and Groom!”

And with that final toast, I sauntered off, bus ticket in hand, to my next large gathering of unwitting souls to preach the Quote to Cash gospel, and regale them with heavenly tales of a place we at ATG know as the Monetization Ecosystem.

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Jay Allen is the Senior Marketing Consultant at ATG and has been with the company since 2013. His role often takes him on the road to talk about ATG and the work they do. He recently surpassed 500,000 miles on his Greyhound Mileage Plus account and looks forward to visiting Mississippi one day. He is also the self-published author of a free online book – Red Bull & Donuts: A Memoir – Part One.

Jay Allen Advanced Technology Group The Quote to Cash Tour Missoula Solutions Center