Is Your Company in Need of Digital Transformation?
One of the lessons learned from COVID-19 has to be the compelling need for organizations to have a “plan B” in place to ensure business continuity during times of disruption.
We used to call this disaster preparedness. We kept a disaster preparedness plan on a shelf and only thought about executing its protocols when the sirens started, the storms gathered or the earth itself began to shake.
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, flexibility and redundancy.
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 mobilize and to physically decentralize 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.
The great enabler of this capability has been digital transformation.
Digital Transformation – When and Where?
Before we go further, forget the hype and the Jetsons-inspired images of digital transformation. Instead of thinking in terms of a magic wand, consider thinking in terms of finding those areas and processes where you can make the biggest impact with the least effort.
A great place to start is with your selling process. This is where money comes into the organization. If you can make a positive impact within the selling process, if you can insulate it from disruption, you will be well on the way toward transforming your entire enterprise.
Positively impacting the selling process offers immediate results that are highly visible. Stabilizing or improving sales revenue translates into stability for the enterprise and justification for extending your transformation efforts into other areas.
Indicators Your Selling Process May Need Digital Transformation
During the “The New Trust: How Do You Future-Proof Revenue In a Disruptive World” webinar, Cincom’s David Allison and Novus CPQ founder Frank Sohn, identified several specific indicators that suggest your selling process may be a candidate for a digital transformation effort.
Let’s take a look at these signs or indicators and see how they might show up in your organization.
Improvement is Not Possible with Existing Tools and Processes
Improvement recommendations are almost always greeted with skepticism, 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.
But, sometimes the old system is not repairable. All effective optimizing efforts have already been employed. Sales reps have been trained and retrained. Things are simply not going to get better without some significant change.
This stagnation is indicative of process problems.
The Competition is Beating You to the Punch
If you are always coming in behind your competitor, if you seem to be relegated to the role of bid fodder, if you are watching your competition close deals that you didn’t even know were there, then 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 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.
Configuration Errors are Common
When you quote or propose a solution for your customer, you know how important it is for your solution to be demonstrably effective. Are you finding out late in the sale or even after the product is installed that your solution is not addressing the needs of the customer?
Late cycle re-configurations mean re-quoting and modifying proposals. This can destroy the confidence your buyer has in you and your product. It opens the decision-making process up again and provides an opportunity to regain control of a sale for your competition.
Chronic configuration errors indicate process problems.
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.
If your buyer doesn’t believe your price is justifiable, you have a process problem.
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 driveaway prices; what’s the total price over three years or something similar.
If you have trouble summarizing the cost and pricing that drives 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.
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 catalog.
This will likely lead to process problems.
Give your existing sales processes a close look. Talk to your reps; talk to your customers. Almost anyone involved in the selling 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. We will look at this in more detail in future posts.