Configure price quote (CPQ) software makes approving complex sales orders easy and fast. It ensures pricing accuracy, valid configuration and ultimately makes for happier customers.
It is amazing what some companies do to make sure they want to accept a deal brought in by their hardworking sales force. In many instances, it is easier for the sales rep to cash in a million-dollar lotto ticket than it is to get approval for their latest deal.
I remember working with one sales organization that formalized the order approval process to such a degree that it meant adding a week to almost any sales cycle. Each order went through the following checks:
- The sales manager confirmed pricing and evaluated commission processing.
- Product Management reviewed the product, the application and the resulting configuration.
- Operations reviewed the deal for availability of parts and supplies as well as production capacity and scheduling.
- Finance reviewed the pricing, discounts and any terms such as payment plans or leases.
- Legal reviewed the proposal and contract documents, and anything other than standard language resulting in delays.
- The Customer Installation Team reviewed the deal to see if they’ve been thrown under the bus by promises made beyond their capability to fulfill.
- Logistics had to greenlight the deal from the standpoint of any delivery commitments made.
All of this reviewing was done by faxing copies of the order documents around the company for approvals, modifications or denials, which were faxed, phoned or mailed back to the sales office.
The whole process was euphemistically referred to as the Order Prevention Program. Online order management systems have helped to automate some of this, but many companies still manually review deals to protect themselves from fraud, mistakes or lousy deals.
What’s a Company to Do? Trust Your Configure Price Quote Software
Companies should protect themselves from bad deals. It’s just common sense that some level of review should be built into the ordering process. But, when the review becomes a week-long delay and an obsession with minutiae that has little impact on the profitability or suitability of the deal, the review has become an order prevention process.
Sales Performance Goals: Where Do You Start?
Start at the beginning. How are deals built? Are your reps pushing solutions based on incentives and perceived priorities based on inventory or sales performance goals? Or, are you embracing a more customer-centered approach designed to help your prospect make the right buying decision?
It Starts with Guided Selling, Backed by CPQ
Guided selling starts with Marketing providing all manner of high-value content designed to educate your customer. By embracing an inbound, guided-selling approach, Marketing turns your company into more than just a supplier of products; you become a trusted partner in the area relevant to your product line.
For example, you’re not just selling shoes, you are helping people find the shoe that best works for them. Runners will be educated on running shoes, and business folks will be looking for comfort over the course of a long day and also something that looks good in a business context. Laborers will need shoes that protect their feet and also provide the proper support to prevent injury on the job.
Guided selling works by interacting with prospects via content and online behavior to determine what they plan to do with the shoes they are shopping for. As those details are learned, the communication moves toward a more specialized solution ultimately providing a recommended choice for the prospect that matches their needs. This type of marketing and selling process helps to ensure that the product selected is the right product for a given sale. The CPQ software utilizes a question-and-answer script that allows the customer to provide all of the necessary information required to make the best choice.
CPQ software also assures the customer and sales management that the pricing for the deal is correct, applicable discounts and quantities and totals driving the final price are accurate.
CPQ solutions start working as soon as meaningful inquiries are made by the customer. This is important because any sale will require supplies and part acquisition as well as scheduling and production by the plant. For some companies that use the order itself as a tripwire for inventory and supply-chain requests, CPQ can move that tripwire back to an earlier time giving more time for shipping, planning and scheduling.
In other words, you’re not going to delay the order by figuring out if you can fill the order.
CPQ software interfaces with CRM, supply chain management systems, inventory management systems, order processing systems, product scheduling systems and logistics to ensure that the order produced is correct, accurate and in short, that it is good business.
You don’t need order prevention when you have a process that is built around providing the customer with exactly what they need.