Managing Multi-Channel Selling With a CPQ Solution
Multi-channel selling is easier with a CPQ (configure-price-quote) solution. There is a perception that managing multiple sales channels makes the use of a CPQ solution too difficult to bother with; that’s an unfortunate misconception.
Managing a sales channel is about making sure the sales operation within the channel has everything to move a product efficiently and correctly to satisfy the needs of your customer. With multiple sales channels, CPQ provides a system for addressing customers’ individualized needs. Those needs are tied to three critical elements, which are found in almost any product sale. They are:
- Product capability and customer need
- Pricing reflective of the value delivered
- The specifics of the transaction in terms of the expectations of the two parties
Let’s look at these in a bit more detail and see how a single CPQ solution will help fulfill these requirements.
Product Capability and Customer Need
You likely selected your channel representative based on their expertise or track record within the market they address. For our discussion, we will assume your market is segmented by industry vertical.
If you are selling lighting products across multiple markets, you will no doubt have products designed for each specific segment. Lighting for classrooms and libraries will be significantly different from lighting products designed for the medical field. Your selling channel for your medical product line knows the specialized language, the general requirements and application issues common to that market. For the most part, these have little to do with the same information for the academic and library lighting market.
The CPQ solution you select should be able to be individually tuned to support those two diverse markets as well as other segments you address. The interview scripts will have questions designed around medical environments and tasks, and the product configurations, part and assembly selection options will only offer choices that are relevant in that specific segment.
For instance, the opening question within the medical market interview might be: Is the application a hospital, clinic, lab or medical office?
For the academic and library market, the opening question might be: Is the application a classroom, library or research facility?
The customer and the sales rep are not confronted with a bunch of irrelevant questions that have nothing to do with their specific needs or expertise. The interview quickly guides them toward your solution, which is specific to their pain or needs.
Pricing Based on Value Delivered
Pricing conventions and pricing plans frequently vary from industry to industry, so your CPQ tool should provide pricing that is familiar, value-reflective and structured in accordance with the market you are addressing. Product pricing aimed at hospital markets is frequently scaled in accordance with the number of beds in the hospital.
Sales reps and customers are used to and comfortable with these sorts of unique pricing conventions, and forcing some other pricing model on them is likely to confuse them or even make them suspect you of deception. If nothing else, it places a great burden on your sales rep to expect them to introduce pricing models that are unfamiliar to your customer.
From a geographical standpoint, your market pricing may vary by country or by customer type. GSA-qualified customers expect specific discounts in accordance with your agreement with GSA. These should be readily available to the sales rep and your customer as prices quoted—not list prices that require manual discounting.
A good CPQ solution will provide for multiple price lists associated with specific markets or customer types.
The Business Transaction Contract or Proposal
At least once during the sale, your rep will almost certainly need to provide a written proposal that outlines specifically what is being sold, the price charged, the performance expected and other factors related to satisfying the needs of the customer.
CPQ solutions can produce more than a line-item price quote; it can produce a full-blown proposal. This is especially important in sales involving complex products or applications.
Again, the content of proposals is likely to be market-specific. Some are quite simple while others are more elaborate in terms of the decision-making process, the solution recommended and the pricing associated with the solution under various conditions.
Nothing looks more foolish than delivering a proposal that’s appropriate to one market, to another market in which it is not understood.
Your CPQ solution can tailor proposal content to specific markets in much the same way that its pricing is specific to market and customer attributes.
A high-quality CPQ solution accomplishes these three things with ease. It allows you to build your market-specific CPQ facility to address many diverse markets and yet maintain your own individual, unified and integrated view of your product and sales.