The Definitive Guide to CPQ Sales: Part Two
February 9, 2021
Welcome to Part Two of our two-part “Definitive Guide to CPQ Sales,” in which we show you how to make CPQ your ticket to shorter sales cycles and a simpler, faster, more productive sales process.
If you haven’t read Part One, you might want to take a look. We go back to basics, breaking down precisely what CPQ means, how CPQ product rules work, and why the best CPQ sales solutions have to be visual.
Now’s the ideal time to embrace CPQ sales (as you’ll find out) so buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Having a shorter sales cycle is a huge competitive advantage in a world of instant gratification.
Sales teams can get more deals moving through the sales pipeline, increasing revenue over any given period. Meanwhile, buyers working under immense time pressure can get deals done quickly and tackle other pressing matters.
This quick-reading download walks you through the top 10 reasons that customers choose us for their CPQ. From our 2D/3D visualization and robust rules engine technology, to our great people, learn about the qualities that make KBMax used and loved by over 10,000 customers globally.
If you can’t respond to requests for quotes and proposals lightning-fast and do deals without delays and inconsistencies, buyers will take their business elsewhere. A short sales cycle is integral to providing a superior customer experience that increases win rate and retention.
Sales reps are supposed to be selling. But they’re not.
The average rep spends just 34% of their time on revenue-generating activities. The rest is spent producing quotes, creating proposals, waiting on engineering input, gaining approvals, and other mundane and repetitive busywork that kills efficiency and morale.
Such reliance on manual sales processes means that the only way to respond to increased demand is to hire new reps, which is costly and un-scalable. Investing in technology is a better option…
Your buyers want customization, but providing more product options means more parts, complexity, and more mistakes. It’s unrealistic to expect sales reps to learn a vast product catalog along with all your complicated rules and dependencies.
Technically nonviable configurations are a huge pain point for manufacturers, stopping the sales cycle dead in its tracks. It’s all very well encouraging reps to crank out more proposals, but not if mistakes are causing engineering bottlenecks downstream.
Human error is inherent in any manual sales process, especially where legacy systems are involved. If you’re trying to use an Excel spreadsheet as quoting software–forget about it; delays, returns, and chargebacks are inevitable.
Rather than train reps to memorize hundreds or thousands of SKUs, why not train them in the CPQ sales process to future-proof their performance. You can turn your most inexperienced reps into top performers and trusted advisors.
Average profit margin is one of the core measures of a company’s financial viability and near the top of any list of sales KPIs. But pricing inconsistencies, weak discount controls, rogue selling, and inexperienced reps cause margins to erode over time.
Replacing old sales processes with CPQ may seem daunting. But implementation doesn’t have to be expensive. Follow these five steps to avoid spiraling costs and slow TTV (time to value).
A robust implementation team is multi-faceted–made up of both operational and technical members with a broad range of skills, perspectives, and objectives. It should include:
Assembling a capable CPQ implementation team is an art unto itself. PIKES, devised by Marco Mancesti, is a useful model that can help in this endeavor. Here’s a summary of how it works…
List all the critical business drivers fueling CPQ implementation. Is the aim to shorten sales cycles? Increase margins? Improve customer retention? Or something else? (TIP: design for outcomes, not features. The fewer features required to achieve your goals, the faster and cheaper the implementation.)
Your key drivers then inform your Project Brief–a document that provides a structured view of what CPQ implementation is designed to achieve and what steps will need to be taken along the way.
The Project Brief typically includes:
You need to get buy-in from regular employees and senior management. Work collaboratively to identify pain points and value-enhancing opportunities. Have a frank discussion about how job roles will be affected and how long implementation will take.
Senior management will want to hear a strong business case that demonstrates why CPQ sales are better than the current ‘Do Nothing’ approach. It should show why CPQ is affordable and consistent with high-level strategy. It should have clearly defined outcomes and funding requirements.
You’ve been given the go-ahead. Now it’s time to execute and put your plans into action!
We break the execution phase down into three crucial stages, which your CPQ provider will be on-hand to help deliver:
Stage 1: Gather all relevant documentation: audit it for accuracy, clean it where necessary, and format it to be readable by the CPQ software. (TIP: this stage can be like pulling teeth, but I assure you there is a satisfaction to be gained from getting your house in order.)
Stage 2: Set up your environment: Connect your CPQ to your other business systems and provide access to your implementation team’s technical members who can get to work.
Stage 3: Design your outputs: Design all of your quotes, proposals, drawings, and CAD templates according to your brand guidelines.
The most prominent barrier to CPQ implementation success isn’t technical–it’s human. Seventy percent of complicated, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals because employees are resistant to change.
In her fantastic 2012 article, Rosabeth Moss Kanter identifies ten reasons for such resistance:
iii) We hate surprises.
vii) It feels like more work!
viii) Pushback from people further down the line–the ripple effect.
Get early buy-in! Consult with employees, give everyone a say, take views on board, and be transparent. Provide accurate timelines and milestones to maintain momentum and create positive vibes.
Over-invest in training, education, mentoring, and support so that everyone sees value in CPQ sales and feels supported, valued, and, above all, capable of overcoming the inevitable challenges.
While it might feel overly-risky to invest in CPQ against a backdrop of unprecedented uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 crisis, now is precisely the right time to advance digital transformation.
We’re now starting to catch a glimpse of the “new normal,” and it’s a world that CPQ is well equipped to navigate. Here are five prevailing post-covid trends that CPQ tackles head-on:
The rise of the distributed office. An integrated CPQ tool promotes collaboration, transparency, and accountability.
Lauren has over 11 years of marketing experience and has learned from industry experts at companies like HP and Salesforce.