When you are in the business of selling products or services, in this case IT services but the same applies to any other type, sooner of later you will quite likely need to create a quote of some kind to send to a potential customer (or even an existing customer for additional services) if you actually want to make any money that is! On the face of it, this may seem like a simple task – customer asks for price quote on a service you sell, you scribble something down and send it by fax or email, customer accepts it and sends back signed copy (hopefully), job done.
In reality it can be a lot more complicated than that, including multiple products and services with varying prices, discounts, markups, taxes and who knows what else. On top of that it may need to be worked on by multiple people and sent to one or more potential customers in a range of formats. All the details need to be logged and tracked so when the customer responds you know what exactly he or she is responding to and why you quoted what you did in the first place (to avoid that “what was I thinking?!” reaction) and of course when it was quoted and a host of other important points. On top of all that it will need to be integrated with your other business applications such as a CRM or PSA tool so you can pass the relevant data back and forth between as needed.
All this initially unforeseen complexity has given rise to a whole range of products catering specifically to this process and to press home that point they nearly all have “quote” in the name – Socket being the odd one out (what were they thinking?!) from those mentioned in this article. The applications follow the typical pattern these days of being either installable software, such as QuoteWerks, or web/cloud based such as Quote Roller.
Starting with the installables, there is QuoteWerks which is a very comprehensive quoting system that offers pretty much every possible quote related feature you could think of and then some. On the integration side it seems to have it all – many accounting systems such as QuickBooks and Sage 50, CRM/PSA systems such as CommitCRM (which itself has a quoting module) and Salesforce, a long list of distributors and various others. There is also an API to allow for custom integrations.
Moving swiftly on to the trendy web based quoting apps, there are quite a few to choose from here and as you’d expect from a web app they do tend to look very modern and flashy. But how do they measure up on the features front?
Starting with Quote Roller which looks very nice, with bright colors, fancy charts and all the usual features you’d expect from a quoting app. It also has pretty decent list of integration options with many billing systems, CRM’s, project management and others so it should be very useable for many people.
NM Quote is another web based quoting system but appears to have less options with regard to integration and is instead focused more on the core quoting function.
iQuote Xpress is more of a CRM, rather than just a quoting tool even if the focus is on quoting and sales. It is web based,covers the bases you’d expect and has various integration options. You can have your account setup there in “as little as a few days” they say but I’m not sure why it should take days rather than minutes to get started with a SaaS app!
Quotegine thinks quotes should be fun and tries to make them so while still being useful, you will have to try it to find whether or not you agree!
Whichever quoting system you choose you should ensure it can be easily integrated with your existing business applications and processes and can be learned and used by your staff without too much effort.