As we enter the New Year, we all think about making the most significant impact in the year ahead. We make new year’s resolutions, and we are proud when we execute them.
Businesses are no different, except resolutions take the form of business plans and goals for the year ahead. Shiny object syndrome becomes a challenge for many organizations. Unfortunately, most forget to focus on the critical systems and processes that have been imperative in their success. It is important to remember these systems and infrastructure are what helped you get to where you are. They should not be overlooked and ‘put on a shelf’ so that organizations can enjoy their shiny new toys.
Like other core business systems, we know from years of experience that Configure Price Quote (CPQ) systems need constant alignment and engagement to ensure your system supports the needs of your business. Furthermore, we know organizations are now facing unprecedented rates of change from new product solutions, new pricing requirements, and constantly evolving customer needs.
We have asked our customers for some tips for the New Year. Here are four CPQ resolutions we believe all organizations who use a CPQ system should stick to; not just for January, but for their organizational DNA as well. We have mapped the metaphorical resolutions 1, 2, 3, 4.
1. Health & Hygiene – New Years Clean up of product catalogs and quarterly reviews on new features and updates:
We must continuously update product features, descriptions, pricing, and availability. If done regularly, this is not a time-consuming task – it will help avoid confusion in current customers and not let potential buyers down. Creating new product paradigms makes it easier for sales teams to navigate the systems without generating noise, making for a more streamlined, less confusing process with minimal distractions. This where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is not always fun having to track and explain product and pricing errors to customers.
View the data you put into your organization as the food and drink, it needs to be healthy and consistently balanced for you to see the long term effects of a healthy diet can bring. Don’t let your CPQ become inflexible and bloated for those who use it every day. Balance your CPQ diet by reviewing current systems and updating your teams on the new features offered by your solution, and get input from the stakeholders and understand if they will help or hinder.
New features and updates are a regular occurrence during your CPQ journey; make sure your organizations get the absolute most out of them. Vendors or integration teams should provide training sessions that inform colleagues on new capabilities and clarify what’s changed. These new features can lead to current/potential customers receiving quotes earlier, earning new business for organizations, and keeping current customers satisfied. Furthermore, get input from product teams as to where the market is going with your product. Are product prices changing? Work with your vendors to leverage new features, vendors allow you to leverage the platform further by sharing this information. Ask for features that are missing.
2. Reading & Travelling Learning and Growth: Road Map and CPQ Plan:
Many of us set out the task of reading more and traveling to gain more knowledge and experience from these activities. Implement this common resolution into your CPQ by getting input from the front line stakeholders: current/prospect customers, Sales engineers, sales teams to find out where your system needs improving and also what they really love. Furthermore, gain knowledge internally by metaphorically traveling with your CPQ through possible future issues and road mapping how you will deal with these issues when they possibly occur. For a CPQ system to have a life long cycle, be proactive in setting out a road map for your CPQ; set clear goals on what you want to get out of it and how you can achieve this. By planning what you want to get out of it during this time, an organization puts itself in a strengthened position against competitors who may not be doing the same. Not only could mapping ahead with your CPQ benefit customers, but it also benefits the internal teams that work with it every day. Having checkpoints along your CPQ life cycle makes for better anticipation and potential interception of issues that could occur along the way. Most systems fail due to a lack of care and engagement.
3. Exercising and remaining active = Constant business training to avoid reliance on IT people
A common theme in resolutions is becoming more active and exercising regularly, your CPQ is not different offering constant training to your CPQ users to get the most out of your system. Asking your vendor for more intuitive solutions that make the complex simple. The more you exercise consistently the easier it becomes to get healthier, and reap the rewards. It also builds corporate muscle memory, reducing quote to cash timelines and driving good revenue faster. Keeping everyone in the organization remaining active and constantly exercising different training methods makes for a more motivated and better-educated workforce. Everyone in the organization who works with your CPQ system must have appropriate training to ensure they can work competently with the system and make for a smoother implementation. Your vendor should take the time, particularly during the implementation stage, to explain and explore the system with your employees.
4. Build better relationships & spend more time with family and friends = Spend time with Stakeholders current/prospect customers
Millions of people set a resolution of creating more memories with friends and family, and through this build better long-lasting relationships filled with positive memories. In your organization, this could translate to spending more time with your current/prospective customers and stakeholder and finding out any issues/questions they may have relating to your product. By engaging with these people you are actively working on creating long-term customers who are loyal and will choose to purchase from you rather than your competitors.
These four resolutions allow for more time to be spent with your customer and prospective customers so they can close more deals and create better customer relationships. As you begin to eliminate some roadblocks, continue to focus on new ones and making your system as streamlined as possible.
We would love to hear what your suggestions for CPQ resolutions are for the year and whether you agree with the ones we have suggested in this blog.