Achieving a more consistent approach to delivering 3D printing quotes
31 July 2017
Much of the time, a quotation will be the first official communication you send to a new customer. This means that it’s not just a question of offering a pre-made pricing grid; it’s your opportunity to make a great first impression and make it clear at the very outset of your relationship that you are a professional, dependable additive manufacturing bureau. This means it’s important to develop a consistent approach to generating and delivering 3D printing quotes, whether it’s a new prospect, or a loyal repeat customer.
So how do you put this into practice? Let’s look at the key elements you need to get in place…
Develop a strong pricing policy
A robust pricing policy is the foundation for consistent, accurate quotations, but that’s just the first step. It’s important that your pricing policy is applied consistently, across all areas of your business. Make sure that it is properly documented and accessible to teams across all of your locations.
Be willing to accommodate multiple channels of communication
Different organisations will inevitably have their own preferred ways of communicating. For example, some might prefer email, while others may prefer to pick up the phone. Some might appreciate the convenience of online ordering, while others may want to talk to a professional to discuss the specifics of their order. This means you need to be flexible. Be willing to accommodate any channels through which customers wish to send you requests, but once the project data has been received, make sure the system for managing it is completely consistent. The point of contact may be different for each request, but everything that happens afterwards to create and deliver the quote must remain the same.
Have a template ready to go
It’s an old cliche, but presentation really does matter. All customers will appreciate a clear, well-formatted quotation, with all the information they’ve requested clearly laid out. Fortunately, this needn’t be excessively time-consuming. Simply have a good-looking template prepared, then populate it with the relevant data for each quotation. Remember, first impressions!
Make sure every geographical area in your operation is using the same system
For companies operating on the global stage, inconsistency between teams’ approaches in different countries is an all-too-common problem. We would strongly advise you to work with a consistent pricing policy across all regions, and ensure all teams are making use of a fully centralised system, with the facility to work with multiple languages and currencies (including the relevant tax information, where applicable).
Be clear on the different countries you can deliver your services in
When a customer requests a quote, they should be able to see straight away which countries you can and cannot deliver your services in and — equally importantly — see any additional costs involved up front. It will prove embarrassing for you and frustrating for your customer if an order is placed, only for them to find there are additional costs involved, or that it will not be possible to fulfil due to geographical limitations.
Keep future quotes consistent
If you’ve delivered first-class work, it’s likely that customers will want to do business with you again, especially if they need certain parts delivered quickly, on a regular basis. When a customer makes a routine order, they’ll expect it to be consistent on each occasion, so they can just send in their request and not think any further about it until the part is delivered. That’s why it’s essential that all quotes delivered to your customers are captured in your system and stored with the relevant customer information. This will help build confidence in your business and drive repeat orders.
Automate wherever possible
It’s unlikely that simple, repeat requests will require the direct attention of your team. In fact, their talents would almost certainly be better deployed elsewhere. We’d therefore suggest automating the process for delivering simple, routine quotes wherever possible, so they can be generated automatically once the project data has been received. If you have developed a strong pricing policy and are working with a fully centralised system for managing your orders, this should present little problem.
Make it easy to place an order!
Finally, if a customer is pleased with the quote you’ve delivered and wants to place their order, don’t stand in their way! The process of placing an order based on a quote should be as simple and straightforward as possible. Ideally, they should be able to place the order with a single click of a button.
If you bear these points in mind, you will be able to implement a system for delivering quotations that is not only consistent and efficient, but helps drive new business and turns new customers into loyal, repeat ones.