Creating quotes, proposals, statements of work, and other documents manually can be laborious and time-consuming. Having to transcribe data for each individual quote can be inefficient, and liable to human error. This is where you can let your CRM take on some of the heavy lifting. In this article, we explain how quote merge functionality in Zoho CRM can expedite and enhance the quoting process, and walk through setting up quote automation step-by-step. You can check out our other articles on Zoho here.

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Building Out Simple Quotes and Estimates in Zoho Books

Building out simple quotes and estimates requiring only a couple of lines of information within Zoho CRM is straightforward. After integrating Zoho Books with Zoho CRM, you will want to head to the Zoho Finance section. Zoho Finance is not an application in itself, but connects Zoho CRM, Zoho Inventory, and Zoho Books.

Here you can make use of better quote and invoicing templates than are available in the standalone CRM, by pulling them into the CRM from Zoho Books. Even if you don’t use Zoho Books for accounting tasks, it is still useful for creating quotes and invoices, and can be easily integrated with your accounting software. The benefit in this situation is creating a more seamless process for your sales reps, allowing them to complete the sales cycle from a single location – saving time, as well as centralizing your record keeping.

Firstly, head to the deal record and select ‘new estimate’. Here, you can easily populate quotes with a couple of item details, e.g., ‘Security Audit’, at a rate of $5000. This can then be saved and sent to the customer.

Once the estimate has been sent, it can be found in the deal record under the proposal/price quote section in the deal record. You can then enable the customer portal function through Zoho Books, allowing your clients to directly review and accept quotes online, and sending you a notification once the estimate has been accepted. This works to automate the quote sending and acceptance stages, while allowing you to manage this process. This function can also be used to send reminders to customers, and presents significant time-savings during the quoting stage.

Using Quote Automation to Build Out Complex Quotes and Estimates in Zoho CRM

Depending on the types of quotes and estimates your business sends, you may need the ability to include more detail – such as in the case of statements of work, proposals, contracts and other documents that require more fine print. Creating complex estimates manually can be very time-consuming, as well as being prone to transcription errors. Automating this process can be a significant time-saver while helping to maintain accuracy.

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To create a more complex estimate, we need to use the data that has been pulled through from the lead’s journey into the deal’s record. With a couple of clicks, we can leverage this data, and have it injected automatically into the agreements that you are sending to your clients.

To orient complex quotes for project-based proposals, we can create a custom section on the deal record to provide project start and end dates. We can then define a ‘proposal deliverables’ section using a sub-form. These forms can be used to create tables with data that can be injected directly into the deal record.

For example, we can set the first deliverable as ‘security audit of company Azure platform’. We can set the description to ‘the team will conduct an in-depth analysis of the client’s current security posture.’ Using the sub-form, you are able to create multiple deliverable entries.

We can then set out the proposal pricing, defining service areas with descriptions. For example, describing the service area as ‘security audit’, with a comment of ‘review of security posture’ at a rate of $5000, and then a ‘platform subscription’ with ‘5 x platform licenses’ at a rate of $50. This builds out a pricing table and calculates the aggregate cost total.

Using the Quote Merge and Automation Function to Build Standard Quotes in Zoho CRM

Now that your quotes and estimates have been created, you have the option to use the quote merge function to slot these automated quotes into your standard quoting or proposal templates.

To do this, head over to the ‘mail merge’ feature from Zoho Writer (included in Zoho One licensing). You then select your quote or proposal template, and ‘merge’ the data that we have just entered on the deal record.

We then have the ability to auto-inject fields from the deal record in the CRM into our proposal. We can add ‘For <<Deals. Account name>> at the top of the template, and then click ‘preview merge’ to populate these fields with data from the CRM. This saves your sales reps from having to fill out these templates manually each time.

We can also add in a ‘Created by’ section with a field such as ‘Deals. Deal Owner’ and populate this in the same way with the sales rep’s first and last names.

Next, we can add in the project deliverables into the template merge fields. We can select the project deliverables and start/end dates from the main fields section to populate this data on the template. If needed, you can also create a ‘project duration’ field in the CRM to calculate the number of minutes between the project start and end dates.

We can also use the ‘sub fields’ section to directly inject the proposal pricing or proposal deliverables data from the CRM into the quote template as a table. It will be pasted with standard formatting but can be customized. Once again, we can populate these tables with data using the merge preview action. These features are useful in creating any type of complex quote, such as terms and conditions or descriptions of deliverables.

Sending Your Quotes to Clients

When the quote or proposal is ready to be sent to the client, we simply select ‘run merge.’ You then have the options to merge and save as a document, merge and send via email, or merge and send for sign collection.

If the quote needs a signature, we select the last option. Using an integration with Zoho Sign, we simply add in the signer’s details and send the quote to the client. There is also functionality to send automatic reminders to clients, as well as tracking capabilities.

After following these simple steps, you should be up and running with Zoho CRM’s quote merge and automation function, removing the need to manually create each quote, and improving the accuracy of quote data.

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