Sales organizations can realize almost immediate benefit from a CPQ software adoption project. But, you can’t just drop the product onto their laptops and expect things to take care of themselves.
Sales reps are somewhat skeptical by nature; they are not inclined to believe something just because the person saying it wants them to. They see the world in terms of the goals they want to accomplish. Salespeople will see things in terms of either helping them achieve a goal or making it more difficult for them to achieve that goal.
Sales has to love the idea of getting the quote right the first time, closing the deal faster and delivering proposals to the customer that speak directly to the issues that are most important to the customer.
To that end, when someone hands sales reps a tool like CPQ software and tells them to start using it because it will be good for them, they may react with less enthusiasm than expected.
The Case for CPQ Software
CPQ software delivers great value to Sales and to the organization, in general. Pricing accuracy is assured, and product configuration, aligned with the specific needs of each customer, is achieved. Quotations are turned around more quickly, and proposals are generated on time, without the last-minute rush that ruins weekends and evenings for all concerned.
What’s not to like? Sales has to love the idea of getting the quote right the first time, closing the deal faster and delivering proposals to the customer that speak directly to the issues that are most important to the customer.
Selling on the road has always involved schlepping tons of reference materials around and filling the trunk of your car with demo kits, samples, collateral, price lists and product bulletins. CPQ eliminates a lot of that stuff.
So what is it specifically that gets in the way of Sales jumping on CPQ like a big wet dog?
Five CPQ Software Sins that Spoil It for Sales
- Mobility – CPQ is only as good as it is convenient. Your sales force is mobile, so your CPQ solution must be mobile as well. But, it also must be mobile in a way that works for your rep. Are they limited to laptops on the road? You want your solution to be usable from whatever platform your sales force is using—tablet, smartphone or whatever is coming down the line in terms of devices. Sales Managers should equip their sales force with a mobile hardware platform that works for them.
- Incomplete data – Engineering and product management love to get new stuff off the shelf and into the sales conversation. Nothing is more frustrating to Sales than a great new product that isn’t for sale yet—especially when they know the product is ready. Get the back-office stuff done on time when new products or major upgrades are announced. This preparation includes getting the relevant data into the CPQ system. If your AC-only version of product X is now available for DC, make sure the appropriate questions are built into the interview questions onboard CPQ. Your CIO can map this data out for you and assure the systems are talking.
- Old data – Are you running a special promotional program featuring discounted pricing? Have you added a customer company to your National Account plan? Be sure your pricing is set up to reflect these changes. Nothing is more frustrating to Sales than an unnecessary pricing error. It also makes your company look amateurish when you promote your customer to National Account status and they try to run list prices by them.
- Inadequate training – Yes, of course the solution is intuitive and doesn’t require extensive training. However, showing your sales force a few “neat tricks” will do wonders for building their enthusiasm for the system. As a product trainer once told me, “Knowing how to use something and knowing how to make it sing are two different things.” Be sure your reps know how to make CPQ sing. Getting it in the door will almost guarantee they use it. Once they start using it, they will spread the word amongst themselves.
- Cowboy sales rep – It seems like all sales forces have cowboy sales reps. They sell product, but they sell it their way. They don’t follow plans, and they don’t use tools or systems; they just go their own ways and bring in the bucks. This independence may include ignoring systems like CPQ, CRM or any other systems that require their overt use. Ultimately, these guys will screw up and hurt you. They will push something outside the usage envelope, or they will drop the ball price-wise. Other reps will see this and figure why not me, why should I follow the rules? You better be sure your cowboy is isolated or dismissed.
CPQ software is the best thing to happen to Sales in many years. But, if it’s poorly executed, it will just be one more failed effort. Pay heed to the simple things; make sure you avoid the sins listed above, and your sales force will take off for success and soar past previous performance records.