Align with the customer, deploy tech from the best: CPQ by Cincom
In a previous article on this site, we discussed the fact that B2B purchasing and selling is now becoming more like B2C: the familiar technology-based processes that everyone with a smartphone now understands need to be applied in the B2B environment.
That’s clearly not as easy as it sounds, and when what’s for sale is a highly complex, configurable large ticket item with a long lifespan, it’s not just a case of providing would-be customers with an attractively-designed webpage or smartphone app.
In the same way that sales personnel would do well to understand their customers’ pain points and the customer’s purchase process, as opposed to their own internal sales process, sales teams do have to understand why the consumerisation of technology has become so popular. For instance, a consumer making a simple purchase today values the following:
– Speed of transaction.
– Ease of progressing through their own purchase processes (research, finding and comparing prices, deciding, paying and getting shipping updates).
– Receiving personalised offers & recommendations.
But when the products for sale are inherently complicated, and there are multiple sales channels in B2B contexts, those values can only be considered as ideals: the sales process should be modelled so that those are the outcomes, but those values can’t ever be 100 per cent achieved in the same way.
For sales professionals and resellers (a dealer network, for example), creating accurate quotes quickly can be aided by a guided selling process that’s pre-set in technology. With internal logic carefully placed into a CPQ platform, the customer’s purchase process becomes interactive. As options are added or fine-tuned, prices and terms update automatically and transparently.
That’s invaluable for the customer, as the purchase process is always dependent on research — testing the water, changing a configuration here, an option there. And for the seller, of course, the same logical systems prevent an unprofitable sale, or an impossible or impractical requirement being offered.
Quotes can be as detailed or general as required, too, and with the right CPQ, customer details can be pulled through in the background from the business’s back-end CRM, or ERP, for example.
The obvious gains come immediately from efficiency and accuracy. The sales process is underpinned by operational dictates (what’s possible, when it’s possible) but is guided by the customer’s pain points and requirements. That means a better customer experience that’s more in line with expectations during the purchase process, and a better customer experience all round as the order reaches fulfilment.
For the B2B vendor, the CPQ platform can and should integrate with other systems across the company, too. Data can flow into finance systems for invoicing, into stock control and procurement systems to locate and source necessary components, and even “talk to” the sales department’s CRM system, pulling required customer data, but also pushing back sales history into individual records.
It’s also worth considering the further possibilities which, thanks to CPQ system integration with the rest of the business, might include data pushed to individual manufacturing machines and plant — set up, attenuation, configuration. Perhaps not a first step, but certainly not a flight of fancy!
But for now, it’s worth considering for a moment, the potential of next-generation CPQ against its costs. In most cases, the return on investment comes within months, not years, thanks in part to those efficiency gains across the board. But there are the “wins”, too, of order accuracy, and the fact that reseller networks and internal sales teams are singing from the same hymn sheet (should that be “singing from the same database”?).
The figures are very much worth reading. A study commissioned by Cincom from Forrester Consulting showed how one customer of Cincom’s achieved payback from its investment in the Cincom CPQ platform in less than six months. In fact, the study shows that the ROI to date stands at 359 percent.
Those figures were created by better order accuracy, (US$6.2 million), 20 percent savings on engineering time spent fulfilling orders, a shortening of sales cycles (by 30 percent), and savings made by ditching the costs of the company’s previous CPQ (US$600k per annum).
You can read for yourself the full Forrester Total Economic Impact study here. If you’re impressed (we think you will be), why not reach out to a local representative from the CPQ supplier behind the figures?
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