Catering to customers’ specific needs and providing at least a base level of personalization has become paramount in today’s customization-centric world. Fueling that shift is CPQ solutions, which streamlines the way in which companies generate accurate quotes for complex goods and/or services.
In fact, Forbes reports “CPQ is one of the hottest technologies sales are relying on in 2015 and continues to accelerate as it gains greater business value.” But to truly get a sense of how far CPQ has come and just how integral its role now is in sales, it’s important to reflect back on its history.
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Just where did CPQ begin?
CPQ Solutions In Their Infancy
The 1980s represented the dawn of configuring price quote technology. In the early ’80s a configuration system – or “configurator” – was utilized to manage the part of sales where customers choose their specifications, ensuring that it didn’t conflict with enterprise resource planning.
By the late ’80s, configurators were a bit more advanced and had become more integrated with CRMs. However, they were still primarily regarded as a “back office” tool.
CPQ Solutions In Their Adolescence
Come the early ’90s, sales force automation (SFA) was really starting to catch on. More and more companies were beginning to automate many of the arduous tasks that were once dependent on humans. At this point, configurators were being brought to the front office.
By the late ’90s, technology, in general, was advancing by leaps and bounds and eCommerce began gaining momentum. Configurators had grown to be a part of interactive selling.
When the early 2000s rolled around, many small to mid-sized sales organizations found themselves needing a solution for the quote-to-cash problem. At the time it was still fairly laborious and they needed a way to streamline and automate the process even more.
CPQ Solutions Come Into Their Own
The CPQ concept officially caught on and gained traction in 2010 when Gartner Research created a report where they stated that “CPQ systems typically include pricing engines, proposal generators, quoting systems and rules or constraint engines, and are complemented by approval and authorization workflows.”
Since then, CPQ continues to gain more and more attention – and there are no signs of it slowing down. Sales organizations understand the need to scale their sales processes and are using CPQ solutions to deliver a personalized sales experience while still controlling time and cost.
At the same time, similar sales solutions like guided selling have become more mainstream, and consumers are becoming increasingly involved with the sales process.
When you consider the fact CPQ systems help expedite and automate the sales process and improve CRM, all the while ensuring that customers get the precise products/services they want, it’s obvious why they’re being adopted by so many of today’s companies.
In just a mere 30 years, sales software has evolved into an entirely new and more dominant species.
Where configuration systems were once extremely limited and primarily relegated to back office duties, CPQs now provide businesses with the means of simplifying complex configurations and offering accurate quotes, while at the same time providing clients with a personalized and streamlined purchasing experience.
Where do you see the best CPQ solutions heading in the next 10 years? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll share mine in next week’s blog!
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