How can sales operations boost revenue with a CPQ (configure-price-quote) solution?
In the past, companies haven’t spent much time worrying about enabling sales or making the selling task easier for the person out in the field. The historical mindset was, we do the product; you sell it. As long as you make your numbers, we’re happy; how you get it done is your affair.
Arthur Miller points this out during the second act requiem for Willy Loman in his brilliant work, Death of a Salesman.
“He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine . . . a salesman is got to dream, boy . . .”
Today, companies know they cannot rely on such romantic notions. And sales reps? They know they need more than a smile, a joke and a shoeshine to get the job done.
How does CPQ help sales operations deliver more revenue?
Let’s look at several immediate benefits.
CPQ Minimises Training Time for Sales Reps
Products are complex, and their application as a solution to a problem can be quite complicated. Couple that fact with the rapid development and improvement cycle of products today, and you have a significant knowledge deficit working against the person tasked with selling the product.
CPQ removes the obligation to memorise all of the variable pricing, specification data, and configuration and application information from the sales rep. All of that complexity can be built into the interviewing logic that drives the configuration process.
The sales rep and the customer walk through a guided-selling-based interview. The customer’s answers drive the options presented on the selection menus, and ultimately the product is configured based on the customer’s input.
Sales needs to understand and articulate the high-level benefits and messaging related to the solution, but CPQ handles the details. This means new sales reps can become productive more quickly, and modified products go straight into the sales cycle without extensive retraining of the sales force.
Built-in Interview Scripts Answer Buyers’ Questions
The sales rep’s role is largely that of a problem resolver and information source. When prospects come up with that one question, that exception no one has thought of, the sales rep steps up and gets the answer for them. This means finding the right expert in Finance, Product Management, Engineering or elsewhere to noodle the question and provide a credible answer.
That quest for information means long delays in the decision-making process while the prospect waits for their answer. It also means the sales rep will lose productive time making a lot of phone calls and burning through lots of shoe leather running down the right expert and obtaining the right answer.
CPQ again steps up to help Sales and keep the selling cycle on schedule. All of the esoteric expert knowledge is built into the interviewing question-and-answer facility within CPQ. Finance, Engineering, Product Management and the rest all provide input into the interactive interview script. The obscure and exceptional questions all have answers “built in” and included in the interview when needed.
Sales does not have to “come back next week” with an answer; the answer is there when needed.
Deliver Accurate Quotes Anytime During the Sales Cycle
Talking money and asking for the order are two inevitable elements of almost any sales cycle. Early on, prospects that see benefit in your product will start asking for pricing information. They may not want a final price, but they want to have “some idea about cost,” or perhaps they will ask for a “ballpark” quote. Prospects ask for this because they don’t want to waste time talking about a solution that is beyond their pricing limits. It’s understandable, but it also creates problems.
Sales reps know there is danger in quoting any price too early in the sales cycle. First, any price, no matter how large or small, sets an expectation and negotiating limit that is tough to overcome later in the cycle. Secondly, quoting a price before all of the requirements are understood is simply foolish.
CPQ provides the ability for the rep to deliver a quotation at any time during the selling cycle―a quotation that is time and date stamped and accompanied by an itemised listing of the specifics being quoted. This means later on in the selling cycle, when those additional requirements do surface, the higher price is much easier to justify and account for.
The sales rep is not stuck with having to “honor” an invalid price that was quoted weeks or months before, margin is preserved and additional functionality is sold as required.
CPQ Automates Sales Proposals
Getting the order is both a blessing and a curse for the sales professional. Sure, getting the order is the whole point of the exercise, but it also means time in the office putting together a professional proposal to seal the deal. This is time spent keyboarding proposal documents, gathering up collateral and user stories and putting it all together in a format that’s reflective of your corporate standards. All of that time would be better spent nurturing other opportunities.
CPQ takes that burden off of the sales rep’s shoulders and automates the proposal-generation process.
Proposals are generated based on marketing standards and visual branding rules. User stories and references are included that are current, valid and applicable to the buyer’s own situation.
Best of all, the sales rep can continue selling instead of running around the office putting the proposal together.
Sales operations will derive great benefit from CPQ. Errors are eliminated; the endless memorization of trivial, yet critical, detail is no longer required; the panic quest for information from experts is minimized and quotations and proposals are available with the click of a mouse.
Willy Loman would be thrilled!