Subscription News delivered straight to your inbox.


Designing the Quote-to-Cash Process

Impact on B2B Subscription Business Growth

Amy Konary

Building long-term relationships with customers is the route to value in the Subscription Economy®. Yet the Quote-to-Cash (QTC) process at most B2B companies—even those with subscription businesses—is optimized for linear transactions, not relationships. This results in complexity and cost to the provider and a poor experience for the subscriber.

Companies that set out to improve their processes are faced with multiple design choices. And making the right choices can take a long time and involves coordination with multiple teams in your company, which can be especially challenging for companies doing a hybrid of traditional and subscription sales.

The Subscribed Institute took its most recent deep dive to identify the key design elements of successful enterprise B2B companies in the end-to-end order-to-cash process: quoting, ordering, contracting, invoicing, collections, renewals. Collaborating with McKinsey & Company, we studied nearly 500 companies over a four-year period (2016-2019), looking at 50 different data attributes and fields, some quantitative, some qualitative. The companies we chose had an ARR of $75 million and above, as well as an ARPA of $5000 and above to make sure we were focusing on companies that had substantial operations with B2B customers.

What we’ve found is that companies that see success in a Subscription Economy® have to continuously iterate and evolve their QTC approach. Here’s why: when you first launch a subscription business (or a subscription component to your business), you often start with the simplest viable process: straightforward offer, skinnied-down catalog, no-brainer pricing and packaging. This lets you get out of the gate quickly and start racking up successes. But success breeds complexity, and many businesses struggle to keep up with the QTC demands of their maturing business.

Our research identified the characteristics shared by both high-growth and low-growth enterprise B2Bs to provide actionable recommendations that can help you grow your own business more effectively. But the bottom line is we finally have proof that getting your QTC process dialed can impact your top line; there’s an undisputable correlation to growth.

Our analysis compared indicators such as revenue growth, expansion, and net retention against 30 metrics corresponding to “3 Ps” of the QTC design process:

  • Product Catalog
  • Payment terms
  • Pricing & Packaging

New Benchmarks

We’ve created Benchmark reports available on our site that go into more detail, but here are some top-level insights to get you started:

 – All of the 3Ps can introduce finance complications, which can slow down the momentum of a previously “full steam ahead” subscription business.

 – Managing complexity in the QTC process requires coordination across multiple functions including sales, pricing, finance, legal, operations, and customer success.

 – The challenges of QTC coordination are even more acute for companies with a hybrid model of traditional and subscription sales because they have to juggle multiple disparate quoting processes, data models designed for SKUs instead of subscriptions, and frustrating invoicing practices.

 – Optimizing QTC for growth requires a series of thoughtful decisions (and trade-offs) to strike the right balance between standardization and customization:

Standardize: High-performing B2B subscription companies standardize the majority of the process to build a robust core of simpler, automated actions that create less friction and complexity as orders are handled. Standardization is the preferred answer for design decisions that:

  • Do not make a significant difference to customer experience.
  • Place a disproportionate burden on the back office to support variations.
  • Have fairly well-accepted norms in the industry.
  • Can be largely addressed with common technology solutions and features.
  • High-performing B2B subscription businesses empower their sales teams by offering flexibility where it truly matters to customers, as long as doing so doesn’t require too much manual work or open the process to errors.

    Flexibility becomes a preferred option when:

  • It provides significantly more value to customers, or a sub-segment within the customer base.
  • The capability is a source of differentiation for the company.
  • It is a critical part of the brand promise. There are significant differences in local markets, especially for serving small and mid-sized businesses.

Want to explore more? Check out:

Subscription Economy Benchmark: Product Catalog Optimization 

Subscription Economy Benchmark: Payment Terms

Subscription Economy Benchmark: Value-Based Pricing 

Next Next Next Next Next Next Next Next Next Next

Fresh subscription stories delivered to your inbox, weekly.

Subscribe to Subscribed
By using the website, you agree to the use of cookies. Head to our cookie policy to learn more about cookies and manage cookies on this website.