If you’re in sales or sales management, when you see the acronym “CPQ,” you automatically know it stands for “Configure Price Quote.” Those are three words with some resonance for salespeople: they mean that CPQ will help put quotes together that are quick, accurate, and allow deals to be priced within margin protection boundaries.

Those are all great things – for your business. They’re all business-centric things, at heart: they increase sales velocity, eliminate the need to correct or discard incorrectly manufactured or supplied product, and deliver a branded quote that contains a purchase price that works for the seller. They facilitate up-selling and cross-selling and help maximize revenue per deal. If you’re the seller, all of this is great.What CPQ Stands for, From the Customer’s Point of View

But CPQ should also be considered as an acronym that implies good things for the customer, too. No customer wants a purchase to stall because a salesperson is forced to engage in a manual quote-building process, naturally. When customers are ready to buy, they want to be able to buy. With that in mind, let’s look at the acronym CPQ from the customers’ points of view and see what the three letters mean to them.

C is for Completeness

Customers making complex purchases are in the same boat as your salespeople: they’re probably unaware of all the options and possibilities in their purchases, and often if they are presented with those options they’ll buy them. A good example: for one CallidusCloud CPQ customer, their large boiler products could be sold with add-ons that improve fuel efficiency. Many customers want options like these – and CPQ ensures that they can buy them in the initial purchase rather than having to circle back later and make supplementary purchases. Getting the deal done in its entirety is a better customer experience than completing a deal, then months later realizing there was another product you could have bought from the vendor at the time of the initial purchase that would have made the purchase a better investment.

P is for Precision

Any complex purchase carries with it the risk of a mistake. We’ve all experienced it in – the online purchase that turned out to be the wrong size, the lightbulb that didn’t fit the fixture, the printer cartridge with a product number one digit off that wouldn’t fit in the printer. Those are headaches; for B2B buyers, such mistakes can be orders of magnitude bigger and represent lost time, income and opportunity, things no business can afford. And unlike those retail examples, a mistaken B2B purchase probably involved a salesperson, who was entrusted to shepherd the deal through to a satisfactory conclusion. According to Aberdeen, CPQ can reduce errors by 40 percent – which greatly improves businesses’ chances of getting deals completed correctly the first time, and thus makes sure the customer experience is preserved.

Q is for Quickness

One of the most important factors in creating a good B2B buying experience is the speed at which a transaction can proceed once approvals have been given internally. This pressure is increasing; a few years ago, IDC reported that the buying cycle had lengthened by 20 percent in three years. While buyers said they were mostly responsible themselves (60.8 percent said the delay came from the buyers’ side), 35.6 percent was attributed to poor sales and marketing practices by sellers. Once the research is done and the decisions are made, customers want the sale to be completed quickly so they can get back to work. Their jobs shouldn’t include riding herd on quotes that have disappeared in the inner workings of their vendors – and vendors shouldn’t appear to be less than eager to take their customers’ money when it’s offered. CPQ keeps the quote process from becoming the time bottleneck and enables the process to move at a pace that’s great for both the buyer and seller.

“Completeness Precision Quickness” will never displace the current acronym’s meaning, nor should it. But the next time you hear “CPQ,” think about the positive results that CPQ solutions confer on the customer experience.

To learn about the benefits – and pleasant surprises – that CPQ can bring, read our report “3 CPQ Lessons from Smart Companies.”

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