A recent Gartner survey of 800 global HR executives found that 88% of companies have employees working from home, and nearly all (97%) of organizations have canceled work-related travel. The need for technological innovation under these extreme conditions is undeniable.
We’re starting to catch glimpses of a “new normal.” Companies considering the next phase of their operations are realizing that reverting to previous ways of working is no longer an option. To survive (and thrive) under these uncertain conditions will be a challenge, but one that a CPQ tool is well equipped to overcome.
1. Significantly more employees will be working from home, and work-related travel will decline. A CPQ tool provides a fully immersive shopping experience for your buyers, wherever they’re situated.
Customers will have to remotely configure products they want to buy, from the comfort of their own desks. You need a way to transmit information effectively (both ways), and as 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, you’re going to need to communicate visually—Cue CPQ tool.
The product configurator is one of the core components of any useful CPQ tool. It automates the configuration of build-to-order products with multiple options. With businesses adjusting to rapidly changing market conditions, demand for the flexibility of customized products is likely to increase, and a product configurator makes this manageable.
KBMax offers a 3D visual product configurator, which lets sales reps and buyers customize products visually within a 3D scene. As the customer makes changes to their product (resizing elements, altering colors, adding or removing parts, upgrading features, etc.), the 3D image changes in real-time. There’s little scope for miscommunication or mistakes.
Once configured, the buyer can “interact” with their configured product – spinning it around 360 to inspect it in detail. They can open a door, use a piece of machinery or “fly” into a moving vehicle – anything’s possible. It’s a fully immersive shopping experience (even more so with VR and AR) that’s just as compelling as any showroom visit. Buyers connect with your products and brand on a deeper, more emotional level. Conversion rates go up (by 40% on average) as do deal sizes.
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2. The physical world is giving way to online. And relationship selling is being replaced by B2B eCommerce. Buyers are working flexible hours and want to research products and place orders independently in their own time.
Let’s face it, high-touch sales methods have been on the decline for some time, COVID-19 is just catalyzing a pre-existing trend towards B2B eCommerce, but it could be the last nail in the coffin of face-to-face selling.
Today’s buyer (a rapidly growing proportion of which are millennials) uses services like Amazon and Netflix in their personal lives and wants the same consumer-like online experience when they do their business buying too. They want 24/7 access, instant gratification, and a sales rep on hand if (and only if) they request help.
The answer to this shift in buyer preferences is a B2B eCommerce site with an embedded visual product configurator that buyers can use themselves without any input from sales and engineering teams. Buyers can play around with your products, learning about them independently, at their own pace. They can buy from you, self-serve, from anywhere in the world, and crucially (with more people switching from laptops to smartphones for work) through any device.
3. In light of rapidly changing market conditions, you need to accelerate your “transition to agility.” This means having your best and brightest sales reps focus on (actually) selling, and engineers focus on innovation.
McKinsey defines “agility” as the “ability to reconfigure strategy, structure, processes, people, and technology quickly toward value-creating and value-protecting opportunities.” (I can’t improve on that definition, so let’s just leave that there.) When it comes to sales and engineering teams, we see too many highly skilled individuals bogged down in repetitive, menial tasks when they should be focused on strategic endeavors. Companies need to find new and inventive ways to adapt to this new normal, boosting agility, or risk falling by the wayside like so many others.
How can a CPQ tool help free up your employees’ time and keep your business flexible and agile? First, let’s look at sales. 3D product configuration allows sales reps to configure the most complex engineer-to-order products faster than ever before: No more part numbers buried in old sales catalogs and Excel sheets – reps can assemble complicated products quickly and intuitively
Next, once the sales rep has finalized a configuration, the CPQ tool instantly calculates the right price for the customer in line with your company’s pricing strategy before automatically generating a quote, in the form of a PDF, which can be sent out to the customer from within the admin. With no more formatting and number-crunching to do, reps can devote their time to courting new business, nurturing existing relationships, and devising more effective strategies to reach potential customers.
KBMax’s CPQ tool doesn’t stop at quote generation, though; it can generate everything from product renderings to detailed technical drawings, CAD files, CNC cut sheets and more. Automating these time-consuming tasks clears bottlenecks in the sales pipeline and relieves a significant burden on your engineering team. Engineers have more time to focus on innovation and R&D, maximizing agility in the face of a rapidly evolving global economic landscape.
4. There’s no scope for delays and expensive mistakes. Customer retention is paramount in these uncertain times. A CPQ tool eliminates configuration errors and streamlines downstream processes.
Customer satisfaction has never been more crucial. Companies are teetering on a knife-edge, significant delays caused by mistakes or bottlenecks in the engineering or manufacturing phase risks a) pushing valued customers into the arms of competitors, or b) putting them out of business altogether. The stakes have never been higher.
CPQ tools are built on top of sophisticated rules engines that eliminate configuration mistakes and slash sales cycles. You can use a rules engine to create product rules -little bits of logic that ensure every configuration is technically and financially viable and free from errors. Product tules can be used to govern the assembly of even the most complicated engineer-to-order products.
By enforcing proper configuration and design, you gain greater consistency and reliability in the engineering and manufacturing processes. Fewer mistakes and delays mean fewer returns, penalties, chargebacks, and rework and increased customer retention and satisfaction.
5. Many workers will have the option to work from home permanently once the dust settles on the pandemic. The distributed office is the new normal. New technology will be required to keep remote work productive. An integrated CPQ tool promotes collaboration, transparency, and accountability.
The tech giants are in no rush to drag workers back to the office post-COVID. And, unsurprisingly, many other businesses feel the same way. People are sick of the daily commute, the expensive lunches, and lack of time with their kids. “Working from home” is no longer code for “having a day off.” Leaving the office early is no longer seen as “lazy.” Could this pandemic spell the end for the office altogether? For a lot of people, I think the answer will be “yes.”
A CPQ tool serves as a centralized hub that unites all your employees, wherever they might be. Sales, engineering, finance, legal, manufacturing, and development departments, which are so often siloed within organizations, become connected – they can all have a say in configure, price, and quote processes. You can establish individual workflows for all of your sales channels like dealers, distributors, and reps. And set up custom approval loops to automate discounting, email notification, and transfer to other business systems like your ERP.