In a webinar on April 14 done in conjunction with the Sales Management Association, Bob Kelly and I talked a lot about the things sales managers are tasked with. The conversation ranged from coaching to reducing administrative work, but it kept coming back to a central idea: everything a sales manager is tasked with is now a priority, and sales managers have more to do now and less time to do it.
One task that surprised Bob because it had actually decreased in perceived importance was help with pricing. Survey participants rated it as the lowest of a dozen tasks in importance – a 4.73 out of 7. That’s not to say it’s unimportant – it’s just less important than 11 other tasks sales managers are required to do.
Why might that be? The answer might identify yet another unintended benefit of Configure Price Quote (CPQ) software. As more businesses develop complex mixes of products and services, sales managers can’t manage all the pricing and product data in a manual way any more. That means that their role as the approver or advisor to sales reps about discounts and margin protection is harder and more time-consuming. As these same factors make it harder to be responsive to customers and make it clearer that sales reps need help building quotes, sales managers need help in the approval process.
CPQ, in many cases, is the answer to these questions. It can take most discount approval scenarios right off his plate and build it into the software. That makes his time less valuable for pricing issues and much more valuable for coaching, training, and otherwise managing his sales team.
In that scenario, CPQ is great because it frees sales managers up to do what they’re really good at: working with the sales team instead of working with numbers.
We’ve discovered that CPQ brings unintended benefits to its users in nearly every scenario. Our report “CPQ Lessons from 3 Smart Companies” highlights that. In every case, the CPQ decision was driven by one problem, and while CPQ did indeed solve that problem it also enabled users to eliminate others – often, more daunting problems than the ones that initially drove the purchase. In other cases, CPQ allows businesses to do entirely new things during the quote and proposal process, making the experience faster and more satisfactory for the customer and easier and more lucrative for the seller.
Sales managers need not fear for their jobs – they’re still critical for understanding data, translating into decisions, and making sure their reps understand and act on those decisions. They just don’t need to make all the decisions if CPQ is in place; they can work on the truly important decisions and let automation lighten the workload.
Take a peek at our report and hear from CPQ users how widespread and at time unexpected CPQ’s benefits can be.