4 Reasons you should invest in CPQ software
WHEN businesses start out, their sales goals are pretty simple. Sometimes things are even simpler in that the new concern is only selling a single product or service.
But like life in general, business processes never stay simple.
If your business ticks any of the following boxes (and we suspect it might), an investment in a CPQ system (configure – price – quote) has the ability to change internal processes for the better, improve customer satisfaction and increase your bottom line.
- You sell multiple, configurable products
- You have multiple sales channels
- Quote creation takes a long time and is often inaccurate
- You know opportunities for cross- and up-selling are being lost
- Too much time is spent training sales staff in even the products’ basics
- You’re unsure as to the efficacy of your sales operations
Any organization worth its salt offers its customers what they want when they want it – no one size fits all. But the range of your offering needs to be clearly presented, and ensuring that sales are able to dig down through the possibilities to find a customer’s exact requirements is the first step.
While the headline take-homes of CPQ systems are broad, the actual benefits can be listed quite simply:
- Win more, larger sales
- Empower sales reps
- Specify and fulfill accurately
When the first three are achieved, a company can grow, because it can introduce new products easily, train its staff in new products simply, offer more choice, and sell down more channels.
The practicalities of CPQ are based on several facets of technology which will be of interest, clearly, to those charged with its physical implementation (CTO/CIOs, we’re looking at you!). But those practicalities have consequences that will affect every level of the enterprise: sales operations, sales managers and directors, and of course, frontline staff.
CPQ solutions are typically installed either as a remote solution, in the cloud, or as an internal service across the extended LAN. Organizations with practical difficulties that prevent a fully integrated disparate network may wish to look to the cloud, but policy may dictate that solutions are kept strictly within the enterprise topology. Most solutions offer choice in this matter.
Communication with existing or legacy systems will need to be mandatory, of course – no application in today’s world acts well as a data island. Existing CRM or ERP solutions, for example, will need to interface well via open standards or be addressable by an API.
The underlying algorithms that, for instance, amalgamate customers’ options to produce a series of purchasable options, will need to be powerful – either using an internal engine, or the software should be able to use existing computer power, such as SQL clusters.
While the accuracy of quotes and documents is absolutely key, these need to be consistent and (although this may sound trite) attractive. Standardizing the output of proposals and quotes from sales teams across different bases and channels aids sales and supply operations, of course, but actually closing sales is key.
Opportunities to upsell or cross-sell need to be exploitable and this is only possible if staff interactions with prospects and existing customers are informed in such a way that such possibilities are presented in a practical manner. If these opportunities can be presented by an automated system, then inaccuracy is minimized and sales figures improve.
Further up the line, after data has been passed coherently into the fulfillment process, there will be the scope for an increased range of business intelligence (BI) gathering. Without encumbering staff back down the line with extra burden, an effective CPQ system will allow a greater degree of performance tracking, on the basis of individual sales, entire sales channels, and single channel partners.
One final consideration to be given to the choice of provider should be available levels of customization or ease of customization. While some systems are best deployed out-of-the-box, many enterprises will require a highly malleable system in order to fit very particular requirements or integrate with specialist hard- and software already in place.
Here are three suppliers of CPQ solutions we at Tech Wire Asia think you should consider:
Cincom’s CPQ solution integrates happily with existing systems such as Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce and other CRMs and ERPs but this efficiency in out-of-the-box compatibility is not an indicator of a fixed solution.
Cincom’s CPQ is very malleable, offering each implementation a range of customizations, so that unique interfaces, sales roadmaps and branding can be implemented.
The company’s solution is powered by a robust, rules-driven software engine, which is available on-premise or via cloud deployment and provides simple point for integration into CRM or ERP systems.
Cincom’s pedigree is as long as the history of computing, with the company starting life back in 1968 when its founder Thomas M. Nies left his role in IBM. The company therefore has seen its customers evolve and has experienced the changing nature of the business world. Its CPQ solution reflects this as deployment is customizable enough for it to be relevant in industries which experience complex products or sales cycles including; industrial manufacturing, medical and scientific devices, utilities, specialty vehicles and financial services.
The solution’s recent installation for Sharp (Australia and New Zealand), is a case in point. Sharp utilizes Cincom’s CPQ in its divisions focused on sale and distribution of multifunction printers & copiers, to price and quote the highly-configurable office devices efficiently.
Cincom’s CPQ therefore is not off-the-peg and it suits concerns whose offering is likewise non-standardized and disparate. Read their full profile…
Oracle has moved on since its database beginnings, now straddling the world in a number of tech arenas. It acquired BigMachines in October 2013 and has integrated the smaller company (which numbered around 270 clients of its own at the time of purchase) into its extensive product portfolio.
The product’s title is CPQ Cloud, which informs potential buyers of its installation type. As part of the Oracle family, the product integrates well with other Oracle solutions, including Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, Sales Cloud, and OnDemand.
Other integrations include SAP, Infor LN (formerly Baan), Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.
As you might expect from the behemoth that is Oracle, its CPQ is best suited to medium to large enterprise.
The solution can be tailored to any company’s “logic and tribal knowledge”, and price books can be determined in a fluid manner, based on customer, region, season, available discount or package variations.
The approval process for any sales order can also be baked into the system, so if further confirmation is required ‘up the line’, this can be requested on an automated basis, via mobile, email, SMS and so forth.
Outputs from the system come in a range of formats (Word, PDF, RTF etc.), and can be budgetary quotes, proposals, contracts, full engineering documents and/or SOWs (statements of work).
Apttus has featured in a Forrester Report that states, “Apttus is best suited for Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics customers looking to address all aspects of the Quote-to-Cash [QtC] process as well as B2B companies looking to embark on an E-Commerce strategy.” The company’s CPQ solution is part of its QtC system which it describes as the process of driving revenue for your organization, starting with a buyer’s intention to buy, and ends with cash in the bank.
The company allows legal and financial policies to be baked into the solution (as well as pricing policies) which will help to ensure compliance regulations (such as in the financial services sector, in particular). This should help reduce legal costs and will make the legal department’s involvement in the enterprise more strategic and hopefully less having to be reactive after the fact.
By connecting the paper trail from quote through to invoice, Apttus QtC maintains a single source of data that negates the need for re-input and removes the possibility of variations and alterations that can damage customer relationships.
Apttus offers its solutions to a range of business types, including high-tech, manufacturing, financial services, and communications. These are serviced via the company’s ‘Intelligent Cloud’ which is powered by cloud platforms which include Salesforce and Microsoft Azure. The QtC solution can be accessed within popular CRM solutions like Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Apttus hit the tech press headlines recently with the announcement that it would be employing machine learning (ML) algorithms into its solution. The software can point out missing clauses, for instance, or find clauses in a proposed contract that might create risk.
*Some of the companies featured in this article are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia