I often read marketing copy for Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solutions that summarises the many benefits that they can bring to an organisation. I'll generally read something like "Sell Faster", "Eliminate Errors", "Close Deals Quickly" or "Improve Margins". We're guilty of it too - the headline of this website reads "Sell more, Sell Faster with a Configure Price & Quote system". I wrote that copy and agonised for days over how best to encapsulate the value of CPQ in a short, snappy phrase. It was a really difficult task because CPQ can benefit each organisation in such a wide variety of very different ways. But it got me thinking – I want to give those many benefits of CPQ more thought than my (admittedly catchy) headline, so over the coming months, I'll explore one positive attribute of CPQ at a time in a little more depth.
First, let's take a look at one of the most frequently heard benefits that customers gain from implementing CPQ.
For anyone in charge of the revenue generating activities of a company, the idea that you can speed up your selling cycles is exactly what you want to hear. Surely, if you can deliver the same revenue in less time, it frees up your salespeople to focus on the next big deal. So how exactly can CPQ enable this?
In my experience there are two main ways that CPQ can provide measurable improvements in the speed of the selling cycle.
1) Reduce Wasted Time
When your salespeople do any deal with a customer, there's a mixture of value adding time (generally time spent exploring the customer's issues or proposing and demonstrating solutions), and the necessary evil of the administration of a deal. CPQ solutions can never fully replace the interaction and understanding between a professional salesperson and their client, however they can drastically reduce the time spent on administration between meetings and calls. They are able to do this by:
- Giving salespeople a straightforward process to set up the products or services that your company wants to propose (knowing that they can't make a mistake)
- Enabling salespeople to see the impact of pricing changes, with the possibility of a manager being notified immediately if they need to approve
- Offering salespeople the option to generate client facing quotes and contracts at the press of a button
If the CPQ system is utilised to its full potential your salespeople can minimise the time they waste on internal processes and shorten the elements in direct control of the critical path of the deal.
2) Build Momentum
Of course, your customer has their own buying process and may have several steps to go through. It's also likely that your deal is not the only thing on their to-do list. One of the biggest reasons for a deal slowing down is a lack of momentum. If it takes you too long to respond when a prospect requests a quote or asks for information then their attention can easily go elsewhere. Other tasks may seem more achievable and can take precedence, and by the time they are ready to focus on your proposal once more, the benefits that seemed so real to them in your meeting may have lost their impact and the way that your product or service solves their pain may seem less clear.
In the worst cases, the prospect’s situation changes - think about the number of paradigm-shifting world events that have happened in the last year alone – these events have an impact on businesses and their planning and what your customers can and can’t spend on. Finally, introducing delays can leave the door open to your more nimble competitors to turn your prospect's head.
So whether it's simply a reduction in the 'dead time' of your own tasks to prepare a deal, or whether it's about keeping the energy of your deal flowing in your clients’ eyes, a well-implemented CPQ solution can absolutely help you "Sell Faster".
There'll be more of focused explanations CPQ benefits over the coming months. If there's any benefit you'd like us to focus on please let us know in the comments and we'll give it priority.
The series ‘What CPQ Can REALLY Do For You’ is written by Walpole Partnership’s MD, Andy Pieroux.