10EQS Blog

Solved: Aligning Your Industrial Sales Process to Create a Fast, Measurable, & Cost Effective Inquiry-to-Order Process

Posted by Stewart Swayze on Oct 30, 2017 11:31:39 AM

This article was first published on LinkedIn by 10EQS Collaboration Manager Stewart Swayze. To learn more about how to work with 10EQS on your next project, Email: Stewart.Swayze@10eqs.net

"This is huge, this is good, this is exactly what we were looking for.” – Client’s - Commercial & Operations Leader

At 10EQS, we've recently completed a project for a global industrial client. Our client wanted to identify technology and best practices to disrupt and optimize their Spare Parts Inquiry-to-Order process (ITO). In breif, this wing to wing processes included customer inquiries, parts identification, pricing, quotation, ordering management, purchase order creation, system management, and associated customer service operations. As you probably know, this is not a small task.

The Challenge

During the scoping process our client explained that their ITO processes are unacceptably time consuming and costly. Of course, this is the case. In fact, it’s a challenge for many organizations, large or small, global or domestic. Let’s think about some of the complications and factors that impact your Sales Process and ITO:

  1. Organizational Structure – Are the functions and/or business units involved in the ITO process Centralized or Decentralized? Are they located in a low or high cost area? Near strategic customer clusters? There are many different reasons and answers to these questions. However, it’s time to look at your organizational structure. The right organizational structure, based on sound business strategy, can increase speed, reduce costs, and improve to overall ITO process.  
  2. Organizational Process – For price, product changes, terms & conditions, etc. do you empower your employees through a delegation of authority (DOA) process? Can they make decisions within certain thresholds without coming back to higher levels of the organization or headquarters? Improving the DOA and empowering your people is a relatively quick and cost effective way to improve your ITO process.
  3. ITO Functional Design –Does the ITO process require too many functions: Sales, Commercial (Sales) Operations, Marketing, Engineering, Fulfillment, Legal, Finance, Supply Chain, and Manufacturing? If you are thinking, “Of course, my products are complicated…” I can tell you, there is a better way.
  4. Disparate IT systems – Do you have multiple Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, different instances of Customer Relationship Management tools, multiple communication / automated workflow systems? Are they all integrated, sharing data through APIs, data lakes, etc.? Do you know how to mine the data to find areas of improvement? More than likely, IT systems are one of the biggest challenges and complications in the ITO process. You know what’s amazing … this is a solvable challenge. An effective IT system strategy provides transparency and integration across the organization. This gives you the ability to develop insightful analytics and efficient processes, while supporting the optimization of their Inquiry to Order processes.
  5. KPIs & Metrics – Are you tracking the right KPIs and Metrics? “What gets measured, gets done!” Right? But are you REALLY tracking the RIGHT metrics? Are you looking at the metrics in process step silos or holistically? The last statement is key to understanding how to measure and drive the behaviors required to beat your competition … and most importantly, exceed the needs of your customers.

Your organization may not have all these challenges. However, I’m sure that most of you can relate to the complexities within your overall Sales Operations Process. As you know, there’s a direct correlation between complexity and complication. Complexity and complication … slows you down, impacts your market competitiveness, and increases costs.

So, now did we solve our client’s challenge?

The 10EQS Process  

10EQS conducted primary and secondary research. 10EQS reached into the Global Professional Crowd to engage with 12 global cross-functional experts from leading industrial organizations. The experts spanned the globe, from North America to Europe and even the Middle East. The roles of the experts included: A General Manager (P&L leader), Vice President of Commercial, Digital Process Transformation Leader, and Director of Supply Chain… just to name a few. The 12 experts provided their creativity and expertise to generate innovative business recommendations to solve this customer’s challenge. (Click here to read more about the 10EQS process.)

Think about this a little … The output and analysis included seasoned operational expert recommendations. Not the same old recycled theory or framework. Contained in the output were expert recommendations providing industry best practices around technology, processes improvement measures, and organizational strategy (e.g. separation of duties). From the overall research, 10EQS provided multiple customized solutions for optimizing our client’s proposal / quotation development, pricing strategy, sales forecasting, order management, inventory management, and product delivery process. The final results were provided in 3 weeks.

Summary Results

“Fantastic insights, summary is to the point. I am blown away guys.” – Client’s - Commercial & Operations Leader

Below, I will provide 3 high-level insights for this project. We provided many more detailed insights to our client. However, through these sample insights, you will see the power behind using and capturing recommendations from the Global Professional Crowd.

Click here to download the detailed case study

Once you develop a detailed understanding of the install base (IB), process improvement, cost reductions, and efficiencies flow throughout the ITO process.

  • Do you really need to service all your spare parts or segments?

Or, should you conduct in in-depth analysis of your parts, then determine the cost and value of servicing all of them in-house? Understand, there’s a difference between the theoretical ability and cost to manufacture a part versus having the correct pricing, tooling, and equipment on-hand.

  • What if you can predict demand? Would that create efficiencies and cost reductions in your ITO process?

What’s more efficient and effective? Reacting to customer inquiries and orders or forecasting the demand, then proactively selling, stocking inventory in the right places via Efficient Order Quantity (EOQ), and/or having the right materials on hand for manufacturing?

Wrapping it up

Really happy with the quality and speed of the results." - Commercial & Operations Leader


The Inquiry-to-Order process is complicated for any organization. Due to 10EQS tapping into the insights of the Global Professional Crowd, our client is in the process of developing a deeper understanding of their install base. In conjunction, they are evaluating the cost and value of the segments and parts that they want to service in house and/or outsource to a 3rd party. Also, they are creating more robust demand forecasting tools to increase efficiencies and shift to proactive selling. As noted above, these are just 3 sample recommendations provided to our client. They have many more recommendations to pursue, but are will on their way to creating a more efficient and cost effective ITO process.

Contact 10EQS and let us know what challenge is your organization currently facing? How can our services and the Global Professional Crowd help you? We’d be happy to further discuss our company, services, and approach with you. Feel free to contact us.   


Click here to download the detailed case study


Stewart Swayze

10EQS Collaboration Manager | Business Development Partner 

Email: stewart.swayze@10eqs.com


About the Author: Stewart is a Collaboration Manager & Industrial Expert at 10EQS. He has an MBA with extensive cross-functional experience including: Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Sales, and Business Operations. He’s worked with startups, farmers in Panama, entrepreneurs in Guatemala, and multi-billion dollar organizations. He's lived in 4 different countries and conducted business in the US, LATAM, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, China, and Australia.

Topics: Organizational Process, Functional Design, KPIs, P&L, Industrial, Sales Process, IT systems, Cross-Functional Experts