We have a lot of great sessions scheduled for C3 2016. I’m lucky enough to be moderating a couple of panels at the event, including one about CPQ and what we call “success creep,” or the phenomena of users discovering benefits from the technology they didn’t anticipate. We documented three such cases in our report “CPQ Lessons from 3 Smart Companies,” and our C3 Panel “The Unexpected Benefits of CPQ,” scheduled for Wednesday, May 11 at 9:05 a.m., will showcase three more examples of companies realizing more value from CPQ than they expected. My preparatory calls with the panelists for this event – Rick Austinson, senior director of IT at Xirrus, Wendy Smith, director of operations at Optum 369, and Joyous Chiu-Rothell, director of sales operations at EFI – have been very interesting, because every CPQ story seems to start the same but then goes in a different direction. I don’t want to spill all the beans about the panel – instead I’ll tease you with a few things we’ve heard as great extra benefits of CPQ, some of which are real surprises. Here are five CPQ benefits that have surprised real-life users:
Sales Data Became a Discipline
In the case of one panelist, the process of going to CPQ identified issues with their product data. Older, manual processes of managing product and pricing information weren’t just slow – they had no structure for including all the data that was really needed, and didn’t require product and sales managers to make sure the data was in optimal shape. That made the migration to CPQ harder – but it also resulted in a new culture around product and pricing data, a culture that gave data the respect it deserved as a key tool in the selling process.
Changes Get Out in Near Real Time
With a manual process, there’s no way to eliminate a lag between changes or additions to products and pricing, and the arrival of that information in the field. For companies still using product and pricing books, that might mean the printing and dissemination of new pages or even new books, meaning that time elapses between the decision to make a change and the sales force’s ability to understand those changes. There might even be issues where part of the sales team is using the new information, and another part is still using the old information, causing confusion and potentially costing you money. CPQ means that changes are propagated as fast as changes can be made to the CPQ system – everyone gets the same information at the same time, and there’s no need to exhaust valuable resources on version management.
Provides for the Care and Feeding Channel Partners
As important as change management is for your direct sales team, it may be even more vital for your channel partners – especially if you have a lot of them. Getting changes out to your partners automatically – without the need to communicate directly with each of them – allows you to be nimble and for your partners to be current at all times. Come companies have tens of thousands of channel partners; communicating with them individually is almost impossible, and hoping they discover news during a visit to your portal is wishful thinking. Instead, by building change into CPQ, partners will experience changes as they happen, automatically, in the course of their work.
Adds all valuable up-selling opportunities, including service
A complex product mix isn’t all about physical things – it’s also about services, training and other offers. All too frequently, these can be forgotten in the course of completing a deal, and while follow-up offers might entice some customers the real time to offer them is during the initial deal. CPQ guides salespeople to offer these service products along with the goods they’re selling so no upselling opportunity goes overlooked. Aberdeen’s statistics bear out the value of this – CPQ users had an average deal size 105 percent larger than non-CPQ customers, and while part of that is because organizations with CPQ are likely to be more sophisticated across the board, much of it is due to CPQ helping with upselling and cross-selling.
Allows Multiple Versions of Quotes Easily
CPQ allows you to produce quotes more quickly. That means it also allows you to generate multiple quotes quickly, allowing you to put several options before the customer. In some quote generation approaches, that’s not easy to do; one panelist said that sales would take a quote, export it into Microsoft Word, and make variations on the original quote, losing the ability to maintain a standard look and branded feel and inviting mistakes. Those are just a few additional benefits CPQ brings to its users. Want to hear more? Attend the panel on May 11, and bring your questions!