Quoting Process

Quoting process

What is the Quoting Process?

The quoting process is the series of steps a company takes to deliver price estimates to its potential clients or customers. It’s a critical part of the sales process where businesses and their customers reach an agreement on the cost of goods or services before finally making a transaction.

A sales quote is a document that gives your potential customer a detailed breakdown of what the final transaction will look like. It isn’t legally binding (that’s where contracts come in). Instead, it’s a formal notice of the estimated costs, payment terms, and delivery or service information.

Especially if your business sells custom products or services where pricing is neither standardized nor listed, a transparent and efficient quoting process is the gateway to closing deals and keeping customers satisfied. Without an organized and effective way to deliver price breakdowns and estimates, you’ll have trouble gaining their trust and moving them through the funnel.


  • Quotation process
  • Quote management process
  • Pricing process
  • Sales quote creation

Importance of the Quoting Process in Sales

By the time you reach the quoting stage of the sales cycle, you’re in a promising position.

You’ve made it through discovery, qualification, and presentation. You’ve given the buyer enough information to know that your product or service is a good fit, and they’ve formally expressed interest in your offering.

When done correctly, the quoting process can have a significant impact on sales by:

  • Helping customers make informed decisions
  • Building trust and credibility with them
  • Setting realistic expectations for the business relationship
  • Establishing a professional image for your company
  • Improving efficiency and eliminating errors in pricing
  • Streamlining the sales process and reducing manual work for sales teams

If you can deliver accurate quotes in a timely manner, you’re much more likely to win new business. As one of the first formal interactions between your business and a potential customer, it also sets the stage for a positive and successful relationship.

Key Elements of a Sales Quote

Your quote should include all the necessary information to help the customer make an informed decision. In addition to pricing, you’ll also include brief descriptions of products or services, delivery and payment terms, as well as any other relevant details.

Here are the key elements that belong in every sales quote:

  • Each product, service, or bundle the customer requested
  • A brief description
  • Per-unit pricing
  • Quantity of each line item
  • Discounts
  • Taxes
  • Subtotal and total price
  • Payment terms
  • Delivery schedules
  • Additional terms and conditions

Depending on the type of quote, you might have a few different elements as well. For a multi-year ramp deal, you might have separate sections for each month. You might include images for physical products. If you’re a contract manufacturer, you’d probably add detailed product rendering for the buying group to review.

Steps in the Quoting Process

1. Preparation

The process usually starts with understanding the customer’s needs. This could involve discussions, requirement analysis sessions, or reviewing documents the customer provides to fully grasp what they’re looking for.

Once the requirements are clear, you’ll evaluate the resources, time, and costs involved in fulfilling the request. You might consult with suppliers and other departments to accurately estimate the effort and costs.

Guided selling will help you determine whether the products or services being requested match what you can offer. As you build your configuration or bundle, your software will validate whether the options align with what you can deliver and only present valid choices to the customer.

During this setup phase, you’ll also determine pricing and discount strategies. For large bulk orders, this might be a volume discount. For a SaaS ramp deal, you’ll have to consider the customer’s growth projections, usage patterns, and market conditions when determining prices.

2. Draft and Approval

After you’ve finished the prep work, you’ll move on to the actual quote assembly. If you use quoting software, parts of this process will happen in tandem with the prep work (since you’ve already configured products and pricing with the sales rules).

Depending on the nature of your quote, you’ll either send the quote right after, or it will trigger approval workflows. For quotes where items fall within your basic pricing and product rules, there’s no need for approval. Complex deals or those with one-off pricing changes, however, will require management oversight before going out to the customer.

3. Delivery

Once you’ve finalized the quote, you can send it out to the buyer(s). You can do this right within your quote software through email, a messaging service, or an online portal. The customer receives it as either a PDF or an interactive online version.

Although your quoting solution will tell you when they open the quote, follow up with the recipient to confirm they’ve received it and answer any questions they have.

4. Negotiation

Your buyer might not be ready to accept the quote as-is. After they read it and share it with other members of the buying group, they may decide to:

  • Request changes
  • Ask for add-ons
  • Remove items
  • Attempt to negotiate a different price

You’ll go back and forth, making changes to the quote until you meet an agreement. Once they approve the quote, you can finalize it.

5. Final Agreement

When everyone’s on the same page about the price breakdown, terms of the sale, and other details, you can lock in the final agreement. Your customer will give you formal approval to move forward (e.g., by signing off on the quote or officially accepting it).

6. Conversion

You will either convert your quote to a sales order or contract, depending on your process.

For companies that need to have legally binding terms in place before starting work, like agencies, enterprise SaaS vendors, and project-based businesses, the contracting process begins here.

If the sale doesn’t include that many variables, you’ll send it straight to fulfillment or billing. In a B2C sale, for example, you might convert the quote to an order with your ecommerce solution and have it shipped or emailed directly. For SaaS products where there are only a few choices available (e.g., number of users, length of contract), you might have an instant sales order.

Best Practices for Efficient Quoting

You’ll need more than just software to run an efficient quote-to-cash process. You need to consider team alignment, internal workflows, and how your sales reps handle customer communication.

Here are a few best practices to live by when it comes to quote generation and overall sales efficiency:

  • Automate what you can. This means using guided selling and configuration tools, automating approvals, and streamlining communication within a digital sales room.
  • Implement product rules. Using a rules engine for your products will help flag errors, ensure compliance with internal policies, and prevent reps from offering unprofitable or impossible-to-fulfill options.
  • Train your sales reps to be product and pricing experts. They should understand how discounting works, when it’s appropriate to offer a discounted price (e.g., high-value customers or bulk orders), how to explain your pricing model, and how much they can negotiate.
  • Create templates. Using templates for your quotes will save time and ensure brand consistency. Templates can also include common product bundles or specific terms and conditions for different types of sales.
  • Eliminate unnecessary friction and steps. If there’s no need for upper management to approve a quote, don’t add that step. The same goes for unnecessary paperwork or back-and-forth communication with the customer.
  • Integrate your sales and finance systems. That way, you can personally follow up on deals that haven’t moved forward, save time on finance/accounting data entry, and make it easier to track performance.

Quoting Process Challenges and Solutions

Sales teams often face tons of challenges throughout the sales quoting process, mostly revolving around time, accuracy, and customer satisfaction.

Let’s dive into some common challenges and how you can address them:

Time-consuming manual processes

With spreadsheet- and document-based quoting, you’ll run into tons of problems:

  • Outdated information management
  • Pricing and data entry errors
  • Lengthy review and approval cycles
  • Inefficient utilization of sales resources
  • Lack of integrated data

All this, plus the fact you’ll wind up sending your buyer something that isn’t user-friendly at all. This makes things impossible to track and manage.

Solution: Implement CPQ. Configure, price, quote (CPQ) automates and streamlines product configuration, pricing calculation/optimization, and document generation. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of errors and improves quote turnaround times​​.

Pricing complexities and competitive pressures

B2B products and services often require significant customization, making it difficult to standardize pricing. Each quote must consider numerous variables, such as scope, scale, client specifications, and additional services, complicating the pricing process.

Today’s B2B buyers are also more educated and willing to scrutinize costs. Pressure from competition is high, and reps need to justify the product’s value quickly. That isn’t so easy, though — complex deals are hard to explain even when your buyer’s looking at a full breakdown.

Inaccurate pricing or failure to adapt to market changes can squeeze profit margins. Overpricing can lead to lost bids and damaged relationships, while underpricing may raise questions about quality or lead to unsustainable engagements.

Solution: Enhance interdepartmental collaboration. Ensuring that sales teams are closely aligned with operations, finance, and product development can provide a more holistic view of the cost implications and value drivers of your offerings.

Managing multiple quotes and revisions

Keeping track of various versions and statuses of quotes for different clients requires meticulous organization. Without a systematic approach, your sales team might confuse quotes or neglect to address revisions promptly.

Delays or errors in revising quotes can damage the client’s perception of the company’s reliability and responsiveness. Inaccurate and inefficient quote management leads to lost opportunities, as clients may turn to more agile competitors.

Solution: Standardize your internal workflows. Develop standardized procedures for initiating, tracking, and approving revisions. Create templates for quote documents, predefined workflows for submitting and reviewing changes, defined roles, and clear guidelines for version control.

Ensuring consistency and compliance with company policies

The need to customize quotes for diverse client needs while adhering to standard pricing frameworks and discount policies complicates things. And keeping up with changes in internal policies and external regulations (especially in multinational or cross-sector contexts) requires continuous monitoring and adaptation.

Solution: Implement monitoring and audit mechanisms. Enforce regular audits and monitoring mechanisms to check for adherence to policies. This could involve random checks of quote documents, processes, and adherence to approval workflows.

How CPQ Software Optimizes the Quoting Process

CPQ software addresses all the abovementioned problems by providing a single platform for product configuration, pricing calculations, and quote generation. There’s no need to switch between multiple systems, and sales reps can seamlessly move from configuration and pricing right into the quoting process.

Here are a few features CPQ offers that can optimize your quoting process:

  • Guided selling
  • Product and pricing rules
  • Automated approval workflows
  • Integration with CRM and ERP systems for real-time data updates
  • Multi-currency and multi-language support
  • Customizable templates and branding options
  • Real-time quote tracking and analytics


What is the opportunity-to-quote process?

The opportunity-to-quote process is the series of steps a company takes from identifying a potential sales opportunity to generating a quote for that opportunity. It begins when a member of your sales team clicks ‘New Quote’ for a sales opportunity and ends with a finalized quote being sent to the customer.

How do you quote faster?

The easiest way to start quoting faster is to invest in configure, price, quote (CPQ) software. CPQ eliminates most of the manual effort associated with data entry and quote building. Those processes are replaced with templates, automation, and drag-and-drop functionality, which reduces the turnaround time significantly.

How do you supply a quote to a customer?

To deliver a quote to a customer, all you have to do is finalize it in your quoting software and send it with a click of a button via email, message, or your customer portal. The customer will receive it as either a PDF or an online quote, which they can review and accept or reject.

CPQ Integrations