Our Very Important Process (VIP) series has been exploring how essential organizational procedures—such as the sales discount approval process—can be made more effective and efficient. VIPs are all those essential processes which your business needs to run as efficiently as possible.
The sales discount approval process is among the most important VIPs out there.
However, when this Very Important Process is followed haphazardly, it can have a serious impact on the profitability of the business. According to one sales pricing expert, most companies can increase profit by as much as 4% by doing nothing more than getting a grip on discounts.
So, if you can ensure the approval process is more streamlined and efficient, the impact on your bottom line could be significant.
Sales discounts are a great way of building a relationship with customers and potentially gaining repeat business:
- The customer feels they’re getting a good deal and is more likely to return
- The customer may agree to pay their invoice faster in return for a reduction
- It may result in larger orders, which means you shift more stock
As important as the discount is as a weapon in the salesperson’s arsenal, you need to gain control over the discount approval process.
In most businesses, discount approvals are generally done unsystematically:
- A customer asks your junior sales person if they can offer a 5% discount
- The salesperson looks around the office and asks the closest manager who doesn’t look busy—or the individual they know is the most ‘easy going’ on approving discounts
- If a more senior member of staff needs to get involved, the junior salesperson might send them an email, ping them via your company’s instant messenger or walk around the office trying to find them—then wait for a response
- The salesperson might also need to pass the discount by your finance officer—if that person is in a meeting all day and the customer wants the discount now, the junior employee might just ‘cut corners’ and give the discount without approval
Automating the sales discount approval process means that these kinds of problems are eliminated. Automating the process means your sales people get an answer faster, and they neither ‘go overboard’ on discounts nor do they restrict them unnecessarily.
Let’s look at how this would work.
An Automated Sales Discount Approval Process
Automating the discount approval process involves the use of technology to ‘mirror’ the steps in your official approval process, thereby ensuring that the process follows the official routes.
This means shortcuts are not taken, and gives you much greater control and visibility regarding how your sales discounts are approved. So, instead of the process being mediated by face-to-face discussions and ‘gut feeling’, an automated process makes the giving of discounts significantly more efficient.
An automated discount approval process would look something like this:
- The salesperson receives the discount request from a client. They then enter that request into a form – either in Salesforce, their SharePoint Intranet, or another internal business portal. The automated workflow is triggered from the form
- The workflow sends an email to the junior salesperson’s line manager who can review the request and any additional notes the employee has made
- The workflow can also be programmed to search through existing company databases to look for related information that might influence the decision: how many discounts has the customer had this year? How much have they spent with you? Have you offered similar discounts before and at what rate?
- The workflow can also check other relevant information in your CRM: what is your annual sales target? Would this discount make it harder for you to achieve that goal?
- This information can all be drawn into an email and be sent to a manager. They then simply click ‘approve’ or ‘deny’ in the email and this is sent to the original requester. Alternatively, the manager might decide to send the request on to one of their bosses or the finance officer to make the final decision
- If the manager or more senior staff are unable to respond within a given timeframe, your automated workflow could also be designed to send ‘reminder’ messages to them, or contact an alternative member of staff
The above is just one simplified example of how an automated process would follow all the essential steps to ensure that a discount is appropriate and at the correct value.
VIPs with Nintex Workflows
Nintex is the recognized global leader in workflow and content automation technology.
Our easy-to-use capabilities are the workflow designer of choice for thousands of organizations worldwide. By providing a flexible, canvas-style approach to designing business processes, your staff can design processes which are as sophisticated or as simple as you need.
Nintex connects seamlessly with Salesforce and other popular CRMs and portals to ensure salespeople can mirror the sales discount approval process in their organizations and ensure the process is more rigorous, efficient and gives you greater control and visibility.
Ultimately, this will mean happier customers and a greater profit margin.