With COVID-19 forcing many companies to review their business continuity plans and operate segments of their businesses virtually, technology has never been more important. Almost every organisation has been impacted by the COVID-induced pivot to digital transformation. For those businesses that were yet to start their digital-transformation journeys, they had a lot of catching up to do in 2020.
One of the lessons learned from the worldwide pandemic is the compelling need for organisations to have a “plan B” in place to ensure business continuity during times of disruption. The current crisis has taught us that the better plan is to build your processes and operations in a manner that anticipates calamity and disruption. To accomplish this, companies require agility and flexibility.
These attributes allow the company to freely move from one mode of operation to another. Specific individuals, departments or the enterprise as a whole require the ability to mobilise and physically decentralise and maintain operations without interruption or pause. Those companies that were able to send large percentages of their workforce home to continue their daily duties via remote access were the companies that have been able to survive, if not thrive, during this crisis.
No matter what your industry, sales drive success – but sales processes are often informal and lack integration with other enterprise applications.
Digital transformation is about finding areas and processes where you can make the biggest impact with the least effort, and a great place to start is with your selling process. This is where money comes into the organisation. If you can make a positive impact within the selling process, insulate it from disruption and better integrate it with your design and manufacturing processes, you will be well on the way toward transforming your entire enterprise.
Transforming the selling process offers immediate results that are highly visible – providing financial stability and eliminating waste from your supply chain through better planning and improved inventory management.
Here are six signs your selling process could benefit from digital transformation.
1. You’re not seeing improvements.
First, if improvement is not possible with existing tools and processes, it’s likely that you need to explore digital transformation. It’s common for improvement recommendations to almost always be greeted with scepticism, reluctance or outright defiance; this is human nature. Change is often received as a threat.
Effective managers understand this and know how to work around or over obstacles and motivate reluctant employees to embrace new processes.
However, sometimes the old system is not repairable, even after all effective optimising efforts have already been employed. Sales reps have been trained and retrained. Things are simply not going to get better without some significant change.
Stagnation is indicative of process problems.
2. You’re always behind your competitor.
The second sign is centred on market share and success. If you are always coming in behind your competitor, seem to be relegated to the role of bid fodder and watching your competition close deals that you didn’t even know were there, you know you have process problems.
Today, buyers are educated, and they know more about what they want to buy than ever before. If your competitors get a quote in before you, the buyer may well decide that the issue is closed and not even consider a second offer.
If you are coming in second and missing opportunity after opportunity, you have process problems.
Customer experience is the number-one area where organisations look to differentiate their offerings. If you have a good starting process with your quotation that is fast, efficient, reliable and backed up quickly, you can get a head start from the get-go.
3. You experience wasted inventory, high costs, excessive rework or long lead times.
When you quote or propose a solution for your customer, you know how important it is for your solution to be demonstrably effective and to deliver on time. If you are projecting long lead times or need to carry high inventory, it may be an indication that the customer specifications defined in sales are poorly integrated with your planning processes.
High inventory, excessive waste, significant rework due to specification errors and uncompetitive lead times are common signs that digital transformation is needed to reduce production costs, manufacture more efficiently and support sustainability initiatives.
4. Extended pricing and price-justification discussions
Are you having difficulty in justifying why your product is priced the way it is?
Almost any buyer will ask if you can “do better” on the price, but when the entire sales conversation is dominated by price and your explanations are not resolving your prospect’s concerns, something is wrong.
It doesn’t matter if you are pricing by value received, cost plus or discounting off list, if the price is not understood and accepted, it probably means you are way out of line with other solutions under consideration. This has less to do with being the lowest price than it does with offering an explainable price.
This is vitally important when it comes to pricing rental equipment that is more complex, because you must consider things such as lease repayments, residual values, repair and maintenance allowances and so forth into your price.
If your buyer doesn’t believe your price is justifiable, you have a process problem.
5. Complex or opaque quotation documents
Closely related to price-justification issues are issues related to the inscrutability of your quotation documents. Complex products frequently do not lend themselves to bottom-line quotations. However, buyers will likely compare solutions using drive-away prices – what’s the total price over three years or something similar. If you have trouble summarising the cost and pricing that drive the bottom line in your quotation, you are going to have a prospect with little confidence in the numbers you quote.
Is your price quote one or two pages in length, or is it several inches thick? Can the quotation be segmented into bite-size chunks, or is it page after page of items, parts assemblies and services, all mixed together into a voluminous package?
If you can’t equip your buyer to explain your price, you have process problems.
6. Tribal knowledge is not built into configuration and pricing processes.
If your product configuration and pricing require all manner of esoteric knowledge to effectively propose and quote a useful solution, you will likely swing and miss at many opportunities. This is especially true if you are working with new sales reps or trying to serve contactless quotes to your customers.
Over the years as products evolve and change, exceptions, special considerations and other minutiae associated with how your product is configured and priced will creep into your sales knowledge base. This information should be documented but instead is passed along outside of the price list or options catalogue.
This will likely lead to process problems, increased costs and excessive waste due to errors.
Give your existing sales processes a close look. Talk to your reps; talk to your customers; talk to your production planners and customer-service agents. Almost anyone involved in the selling, production and support of your products will have valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses associated with your selling process.
There are many products available to bring the selling operation into a more digitally oriented stance, and at Cincom, we have had great success with transforming these processes for global companies in a variety of industries such as specialty vehicles, power systems, electronics, material handling and control systems amongst others.
As a global leader in configure-price-quote (CPQ), Cincom’s solutions are geared towards enhancing organisation’s capabilities, optimising processes and delivering a better experience for customers. With a mission to ensure that its customers are able to win and retain more business, Cincom has a suite of software solutions that is designed to help businesses operate more efficiently and effectively.
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