It’s great that Configure Price Quote (CPQ) and Quote-To-Cash (QTC) systems can help an organization drive more revenue top and bottom line. If CPQ is good for the corporation, is it good for the sales team? Or is it just another process that no one likes to follow, with no real benefit? Can a CPQ system help a great sales team?
So, what do good salespeople care about?
A ‘good’ salesperson cares about making their quota, hitting sales targets, and ultimately making their customers happy and establishing long-term relationships. Furthermore, they want to leverage those people and systems around them to maximize their face time with prospects and customers. With this in mind, they look for ways to engage customers and prospects early, with relevant content. Enabling them to screen and qualify potential customers as fast as possible.
A good Quote-To-Cash / CPQ system allows reps to exceed quota:
- CPQ should = faster proposals and faster revisions = More time to work on more deals as they are not building proposals manually and chasing architects for configurations.
- Allows for more time focused on closing deals: makes the configuration and generation of relevant quotes and documents fast. So they can use the time saved to close existing deals and find new ones.
- Time spent working around botched spreadsheets is removed: They don’t have to worry about errors and whether they are working on the relevant version as all this has been validated, centralized, and is continuously updated to stay current.
- More deals + faster turnaround = higher probability of won deals and therefore quota attainment.
A salesperson’s enablement to be more focused on a potential client allows for better customer relationships and creates sticky business. With better sales enablement, you can get your lunch back, relax, and focus on the bigger picture. This ability to spend more time with current customers and prospects allows for better customer relationships; a salesperson can offer more support and guidance due to the structured framework a CPQ provides. Thus, in turn, customers will see the real value of the service/product provided; this not only gives a salesperson more leverage but benefits the organization as it is a value discussion, not a price negotiation with the customer.
So how can a CPQ solution help?
In recent times, sales have been further confounded as it is harder than ever to get real face time with your supporting cast due to the social distancing measures implemented across the globe. This means it is essential when a salesperson can have that one on one video call or where safe face to face discussion the time is utilized to its full potential.
It is also vital that a salesperson maximizes their non-customer facing activity time, researching and formulating sales strategies to provide more accurate information to potential customers.
Here are the characteristics of a highly valued sales process that get the most out of limited interaction time:
- Clear and concise information aligned to the customer’s need: Reflected in the quote that understands the customer’s requirements and needs.
- Business benefits clearly defined to the customer: Understanding the customer’s payback and feeding this back to a customer.
- The devils in the details: Quote has summary level information and detailed specifics that give customers confidence that everything has been covered and addressed.
- The customer rarely accepts the first quote: Significant value is added to the organization when systems allow for easy and fast governed changes can be sent back to the customer and aligned to their needs to win the opportunities.
- It makes it easier for a customer to buy if their return-on-investment is clear: Real-time ROI updates to constantly reaffirm the solution benefit for a customer and help win the deal quickly.
- Buying Flexibility: Dynamically offering different purchasing options to make it easier for the customer to buy: one time vs reoccurring payments, Capex vs Opex. This flexibility helps a customer get the deal done internally based on their financial needs for flexibility.
- Accelerated technical evaluation of solution: The CPQ can address a lot of the configuration modeling without the solution architects or sales engineer’s involvement. Their involvement is only required if there has been a material change to the solution.
- A Sales Approval Map: In most sales scenarios, multiple streams are unfolding concurrently. It is of high value to have an easy-to-use process and approval map for the sales teams to understand where the quote is and what needs to be done to close the deal.
- Embed and codify the organization’s technical knowledge: The system can accelerate the deal process. Using configurators and technical business logic and rules, CPQ solutions can automate many of the repeatable technical processes that are boring and monotonous for engineers.
As a result:
- Sales can build quotes without pre-sales involvement.
- Sales can leverage pre-sales to review and advise on the best practice: if changes have been made to pre-approved architectures.
- Pre-sales can focus on higher-margin/strategic deals: creating new solution types to meet changing market demands.
Salespeople are really good at leveraging their expertise, technical resources, specifically sales engineers and sale architects. A good CPQ system will also make it easy for those people to use the system and build solutions that are technically pre-vetted which reduce the reliance upon the technical staff.
Salespeople can quickly configure solutions without technical input. In practice, this means a salesperson can produce a quote that is already pre-validated both technically and financially to give a prospect immediately. If there are changes or requests for pricing/configuration changes, the system automatically notifies the relevant technical or finance party. Salespeople need this assistance to get the deal completed. The customer gets access to a professional and customized quote that reinforces the professionalism of an organization. Without a CPQ solution in place, most organization’s quotes are cut and pasted into word. They appear unprofessional and often contain errors; this does not help closing sales and creates more salesperson challenges.
Allowing an Organization to overachieve:
When the business’s sales side can run smoothly and efficiently, the entire organization wins as more good revenue is created, implementations are streamlined, improving customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Good revenue refers to revenue generated that will be profitable/accretive for an organization and complies with the internal controls system and revenue recognition policies.
3 tips on how CPQ can help salespeople hit quotas:
- Present accurate and impactful business case: To customers as fast as possible that addresses their pain and challenges.
- Be able to quickly revise and modify a quote: Get a revised quote in the hands of a customer ASAP. The solution is quickly modifiable based on further input from customers to get to a final price.
- Give your customer multiple options to get started: Ability to offer multiple payment methods and terms to help the customer buy a solution that best fits their needs.
A good CPQ aligns well with these three factors to what good salespeople care about and like every good salesperson who leverages all the best assets, people, and knowledge.
When do things go wrong?
However, a bad CPQ system that is hard to customize and change can lead the organization into a death spiral. There are situations where CPQ has doubled the quote times and made things more difficult. This is the bad path… With employees avoiding using the system in place and reverting to broken spreadsheets.
As an organization grows, the CPQ system must inevitably be flexible enough to adjust to rigorous changes in the sales environment. If the CPQ solution is not flexible enough, the support to feed it can be overwhelming and leads to organizations being unable to maintain the system. At this stage, a system can fall into non-use. Therefore, a CPQ system must be easy to use, easy to change, easy to launch new products, and ultimately drive salespeople to get more face time with prospects and current customers.
So, in summary, is CPQ good for the salesperson?
The little secret is that a good salesperson is innovative, creative, and goal-driven. If the CPQ system begins to slow them down, they will find other ways to hit their targets without using the CPQ or quote-to-cash system. Its imperative systems are easy to use and maintain while remaining well integrated. The customer and prospect data is crucial for the organization. The Systems need to be integrated with CRMs such as Salesforce.com, Microsoft 365, and Netsuite. Getting your teams to update the CRM systems properly is a topic for another blog, another day.
A good CPQ is good for the salesperson and, therefore, for the organization.
The bottom line is that the easier the CPQ to use and maintain, the higher the chance of sales teams being more focused and maximized. A good salesperson views a CPQ system as its best friend on the journey to over exceeding quotas and generating an organization more revenue than ever before.