If you could take a time machine five years into the past and bring a salesperson back with you to the present, he or she would be completely confused by today’s sales enablement technology. How many salespeople used smartphones at work five years ago, let alone knew what a smartphone was? I mean a real smartphone – not a BlackBerry. And forget iPads and Tablets… they didn’t even exist.
Today sales reps not only have smartphones and tablets, chances are they’re using them to answer emails and fire off proposals at all times of the day, or night, from wherever they may be.
Today we also talk about mobility, which allows sales reps to do anything they would do in the office from anywhere, at any time, via any device. Five years ago sales reps were on the move with their laptops but had nowhere near the freedom and instant access to business solutions they do today.
With all the changes in sales enablement tools and the way sales reps go about their business, you need to ensure any new business solutions you add today are ready for the future. When it comes to choosing a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution, you need to make sure you select one that is designed for the needs of 2015 and beyond, not one that’s stuck five years in the past.
There are three areas that traditional CPQ vendors seem to have gotten stuck in the past. Make sure to be aware of them when investigating what CPQ solution is right for you.
Long CPQ Implementation Projects
We’re in the age of apps. (Oh… that’s another thing our sales rep from five years ago wouldn’t understand.) An app works like this: You find it in an app market; you download it; you pay for it (if needed), and start using it. Enterprises today expect cloud-solutions to work in a similar manner. So why is it that traditional CPQ solutions still take three, six, nine or more months to implement? And why are these implementations still “projects”?
Ok, I know… business applications are not apps you download on your mobile phone and start using. But if we take another hop back in time about ten years ago, a little-known company called Salesforce.com (doesn’t it sounds strange to say little known and Salesforce in the same sentence) showed us an entirely new way of implementing enterprise solutions. They introduced us to cloud-based business applications that could be up and running fast, without long, costly projects. Of course, there are those organizations that require several months to integrate Salesforce or other cloud CRMs into their specific environments, but there are thousands of companies that are able to get up and running in just hours or days and then customize as needed.
So why do CPQ solutions take so long to implement? Are customer pricing models really that different? Once a CPQ vendor has implemented a few dozen models, why does it seem like their solution needs to be coded from scratch for every new customer? You should be able to just configure a CPQ with your parts and prices and start using it right away.
For the vast number of small, mid-sized and even many large enterprises, there’s no reason why a CPQ solution should take months to implement. If the CPQ vendor you’re speaking with is talking about an implementation that will take months at the minimum, you need to assess if this is the right CPQ solution for you.
High-Cost CPQ Solutions
If we’re talking about a “project” to implement a CPQ solution, then we’re talking high costs. With CPQ installation projects running tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s no surprise the vast majority of organizations simply can’t afford CPQ solutions. And that’s even before calculating the internal costs and disruption caused by a six month or longer project.
The “cloud” is supposed to make it easier and more efficient for organizations to implement sales enablement tools. Instead, the high cost of CPQ solutions has made it an adoption barrier for the vast majority of organizations that really need it.
The CPQ “Lunch Special” Guided Selling
Almost all CPQ vendors provide some sort of “Guided Selling”. But it’s time they got their Guided Selling into the future.
Most of the Guided Selling out there work like the $9.99 lunch special at your local family restaurant. You know the ones where you can pick one appetizer, one main course, two side-dishes, a dessert (the scoop of ice cream with the apple pie is a $1 upsell), and a hot or cold drink from a selection of beverages. But without the menu to look at, you have no idea what items are available for you to choose from.
So how exactly does a lunch menu relate to CPQ Guided Selling? Most Guided Selling processes tell you which product groups or categories to pick items from to create a quote, but you need to know what the items are and how they relate to other items in the quote. Some Guided Selling solutions include a built-in search or filtering functionality to help find items, but you need to know what you’re searching for, which means you may need to be familiar with hundreds of items. It’s like you need a guide (or menu) to help you along with your Guided Selling.
So if a CPQ solution requires you to know the various items you need to quote, where exactly is the “Guided” in Guided Selling? If a new sales reps can’t immediately start using the solution to create effective and optimized price proposals, without in-depth product training, that’s not Guided Selling.
When searching out your CPQ solution, make sure you understand what the CPQ vendor means by Guided Selling, and that it meets your requirements for simplifying the sales proposal creation process.
Choosing a CPQ Solution for the Future
So when you’re out there looking for a CPQ solution, make sure you’re looking at the future of CPQ and not the past. Long, costly CPQ implementation projects are a thing of the past. And if the solutions is really going to reduce sales rep workload and improve sales enablement, make sure its Guided Selling is not the dinner menu Guided Selling of the past, but one that will help your sales team to be more efficient and effective in generating proposals.
Check out the Future of CPQ
Interested in implementing a CPQ solution that doesn’t require a setup project and has no implementation costs? Want to see how Guided Selling can enable new hires and channel partners to create sales proposals like pros?
The future of CPQ is here. Request a demo of Valooto’s collaborative sales quoting and configuration solution and see for yourself!