Sales is a changing game. Driven by CPQ technology, especially the sales configurator, and business customization, the selling process is rapidly changing. It is rapidly evolving from the old product-pushing, outbound model to a world of customer-oriented guided selling that sees the role of the sales rep as something entirely different from what it was 20 years ago.
In some areas, the selling role is virtually disappearing. In others, Sales is brought into the discussion much later in the selling cycle. Buyers are much happier and more comfortable doing much of their initial and mid-cycle product research by themselves without the assistance of someone with an agenda.
Sales is seen more in the role of problem-solver, information-dispenser, expeditor and helper. Essentially, Sales’ job is to respond to the needs of the prospect and not worry so much about moving the prospect to some desired action—personality has been upstaged by knowledge.
Supporting this role revolution is a variety of CPQ technology and selling tools. Sales automation is driven by selling tools like customer portals, e-commerce websites, sales configurators and guided selling software.
CPQ is the vital link between the sales rep and the experts at corporate. Product management, engineering, legal, sales management, production planning, inventory and all of the other “expert” back-office stakeholders are represented within the CPQ tool.
Sales Configurator for Sales Automation
In the old days, Sales had a product they wished to sell. They talked to prospect after prospect looking for someone who had a need based on some line of questioning designed to expose that need. Once they uncovered the right person with the right pain, they started throwing incentives at them that were designed to motivate the prospect into making a buy decision today instead of next week, next month or next year.
Today, Marketing is hard at work creating and disseminating content designed to provide the curious prospecting, tire-kicking buyer with useful information about issues that confront them. These may be generalized pieces that display specific knowledge that hopefully builds the credibility of the vendor in the buyer’s eyes.
Additionally, other more specific material is created and made available that offers some assistance with issues, some high-level pain mitigation or perhaps wise advice relating to a specific pain. Interest in this material is a strong indication of interest in a solution.
Contact is made (either initiated by the buyer or seller), and a dialogue is engaged. This is how content marketing and guided selling work in tandem to bring buyer and seller together.
The CPQ solution is the selling tool that guides the conversation through scripted discussions. The scripts are not designed to force a decision; they are designed to uncover issues and answer questions. They are also not biased toward a certain solution or any solution. The sales configurator simply offers specifics in terms of appropriate parts, configurations and models that best address the customer’s needs. Each series of questions moves the process further along until a full solution is configured.
Sales Automation for Sales
For Sales, this is great news. Selling tools that offer sales configuration functionality takes the onus off the rep to memorize specs and prices for thousands of possible configurations. They don’t have to remember limitations or special pricing models; the software does it for them.
Guided selling provides sales with qualified prospects who have a real need, otherwise they would not be calling. Even if the need is merely information, the sales rep is able to quickly deliver what the customer desires.
This means no more blind-dialing thousands of telephone numbers trying to get around gatekeepers and sadistic admins and more time for exploring up- and cross-selling possibilities.
Additionally, price quotes are right the first time and every time. Configurations are correct, and proposals are perfect and generated automatically. Everybody achieves their goals faster with less hassle.
Happy customer!Happy sales rep! Happy selling!