June 29, 2020

No matter what field you work in, these days, technology is everywhere. However, despite the ubiquity and advancement of technology in virtually every field, sales reps still spend most of their time manually doing tedious and repetitive tasks instead of selling.

In fact, they are spending 65% of their time on everything else other than making sales. That means only 35% of their time is dedicated to closing deals, and the rest of the time is spent on data entry and administrative tasks. These tasks are indeed important, but they are making sales teams less effective and leaving customers unsatisfied.

Instead of sales staff navigating unwieldy spreadsheets, manually preparing and reviewing quotes, correcting errors, and other time-consuming tasks, they can streamline the sales process by using CPQ (configure, price, quote) software. This software automates the process of producing accurate quotes, making selling easier and quicker while minimizing human error.

It also helps the sales team readily access combination and pricing information and apply it to various customized orders for error-free quoting. This is extremely handy when the sales team usually prepares multiple quotes for complex product and service configurations.

7 CPQ Software Features You Can’t Ignore

With the need for CPQ software becoming apparent, it also becomes apparent that there is no shortage of CPQ software out there. It comes down to choosing the right software since not all of them are made equal. You need a way to separate the wheat from the chaff and select the one that provides the features you need.
When it comes to selecting CPQ software, there are certain key features that you simply cannot do without. Here are seven of them that you can’t ignore:

1. Visual Product Configurations

It is essential for the best CPQ software to allow for visual product configuration since the software also allows customers to customize products. As they make changes, they need to be able to see what they are getting in the end and confirm that it is what suits their exact needs. If they just give you product configurations and you produce something that doesn’t meet their expectations, it greatly diminishes the customer experience.

CPQ software usually has two types of configurators.

  • 2D configurator: This configurator is akin to looking at a flat image. Customers are able to verify the visual appearance of the product, as well as verify its length and width. While this might be enough for some customers, others find it to be limiting and not representative of the real-world final product.
  • 3D configurator: A premium CPQ software will also offer a 3D configurator, as this type of configurator provides a more accurate representation of what the product will look like in the real world. A 3D configurator adds depth, which allows your customers to view the product from multiple angles. Many can agree that this is far much better than looking at a flat image.

With VR becoming more mainstream these days, some CPQ software provide VR configurators. Virtual reality provides a more immersive and interactive experience, on top of everything else. But as long as the above-mentioned two options are available, customers should be satisfied with the configurators your CPQ solution provides.

2. Advanced Rules Engine

To come up with a valid product, the right choices need to be made. As soon as a choice is made, it needs to be checked against a specific set of rules to determine if the end result is a valid product. Since these rules are usually complex (usually involving advanced mathematical functions, product data, manufacturing data and customer data), it is best left in the hands of a rules engine to factor everything and determine the product’s validity.
Without a rules engine, there is a real chance that you can run into price quote and combination errors, especially if you’re dealing with complex custom products. These errors can be time-consuming and costly to fix, which can drastically reduce customer satisfaction and profits. This is easily avoidable by using a smart CPQ solution with an advanced rules engine.

3. Cloud-Based, Mobile-Friendly CPQ Solution

A cloud-based, mobile-friendly CPQ solution allows your sales team to configure a price quote anytime and anywhere. Sometimes, your sales reps don’t have access to a computer, especially when they are in the field. So with all the relevant customer and order data pushed to the cloud and coupled with a mobile-responsive price quote software, they can produce quotes on the fly and ensure customer satisfaction.

4. Automated Quoting and Pricing Management

CPQ software should allow salespeople to automate the quoting process. To get payments on time and meet financial goals and quotas, quotes need to be produced quicker. When it is time to produce a quote, the sales rep should turn to the CPQ software to calculate everything and produce a quote that can be forwarded to the customer for quick payment.

Also, CPQ software should handle price management, allowing customers to configure their products and see real-time pricing affect their quote. This gives the salesperson more time to attend to other customer needs and increase the likelihood of making a sale. Making sales is what keeps businesses competitive and ensures their survival and growth, especially when it comes to small businesses.

5. Guided Selling

Guided selling is such a big deal when it comes to choosing CPQ software. Basically, it is a sales tool that helps customers find products they are more likely to buy, and the salesperson just steps in to guide them towards making a purchase. This makes it easier for the sales rep because the options being provided to the customer will be ones that are more likely to meet their needs.

At the start of the ordering process, the customer is provided with a set of questions that try to determine their needs. The CPQ platform then configures a number of options based on the answers provided and presents them to the customer. Meanwhile, the salesperson has access to the same options, and they can make a recommendation to increase the chances of closing the deal.

6. Integration into ERP/CRM Systems

The average sales team usually uses a combination of different sales tools, such as ERP and CRM systems, in order to do their work effectively. But it becomes counterproductive and prolongs the sales cycle if they must constantly jump from one system to another to access different features and data needed to move the sales process along. To make them more productive, CPQ software should enable full integration with these ERP and CRM systems.

With ERP and CRM integrations, all data is centralized and accessible from a single location. This ensures the efficiency and accuracy of the sales process as a whole. For example, the CPQ system can query the CRM system for pricing data, ensuring that the pricing data reflected on the quote is the same for both the CPQ and CRM systems. And any changes in pricing data in one system will automatically be updated in the other.

7. Reporting

Reporting is an important feature of smart CPQ software, as it allows you to extract valuable insights from your most important metrics and KPIs. For example, a report can tell you where in your sales process customers are becoming disinterested. Knowing this can help you make informed decisions that improve that area and increase sales while also making the sales process more efficient.

Why You Need CPQ Software

By now, you have probably ascertained some important reasons why you need to be using CPQ software. Basically, CPQ tools are vital to automating the sales process, making it faster and more efficient. This means that your sales personnel will have more time to sell and customers will get a better sales experience – all of this will positively affect your bottom line.

Besides that, here are a few more reasons why you need CPQ software:

Increase Deal Sizes

As mentioned earlier CPQ software can provide valuable insights for your salespeople through its reporting feature. For example, you can easily generate a report that tells you which combinations are the most popular among your customers. These insights are generated using artificial intelligence and machine learning, and your sales staff can leverage them to increase the size of deals.

If the sales team knows which combinations are popular, they can cross-sell or upsell to customers during the guided selling process. That way, a customer who was initially only ordering one combination can order more than or even order a more costly one. This will surely make the company more profitable in the long run.

Easily Create Quotes and RFPs

Without CPQ software, handling a large quote can be frustrating and time-consuming, making your sales personnel less responsive. Not only that, but it can also be an extremely error-prone process. But with CPQ software, that quote can easily be created and your sales force can quickly move on to something else.

CPQ software also allows your sales reps to easily prepare proposals in response to a client's request for proposal (RFP). This allows them to strike while the iron is hot on opportunities without slowing their roll. The proposal can be sent together with the quote for the client to start processing the necessary payments.

Generate Sales Agreements

Whether it’s negotiating a price, renewing a contract or making a new sale, a sales agreement is extremely important, as it is the best way to protect all parties involved. And not only that, it needs to be generated as quickly as possible and contain all the relevant information. If this doesn’t happen, you run the risk of the customer changing their mind and losing the sale, especially when the order is a substantial one.

As soon as you are done discussing the terms of the sale, CPQ software can allow you to generate a sales agreement. The customer will be able to see that it contains all the vital items you agreed upon, including any prices you may have negotiated. This will increase the likelihood that they will proceed with the agreement.

Real-time Collaboration

At the end of the day, your sales team is not an isolated component of the business. While their primary focus is on closing deals, they sometimes need information from other departments to help them convert a customer. At that critical juncture, it becomes important for the sales team to collaborate with others for the benefit of the entire company.

CPQ allows such collaborations to happen in real-time. Multiple people from different departments, such as marketing and accounting, can be working on a quote or RFP at one given time. So, for example, if the client has a question that only the marketing team can answer, someone from marketing can immediately answer it and keep the process moving.

Analyze Deal Performance

How deals are performing is something that the sales team needs to be aware of. That way, if something happens that affects the deal’s performance, they can take the necessary action to get the deal back on track. CPQ software gives your sales reps the tools they need to view the performance of a deal at a glance and drill down on the important metrics and KPIs to extract insights on how it is performing.

Easier Price Negotiation

Price negotiation is one of the hardest parts of making deals and is one of the major areas where many deals fall apart. To get a customer on board, you need to give them the right quote at the right time. Luckily, through its artificial intelligence and machine learning, CPQ software takes the guesswork out of price negotiations and simplifies them by recommending a price that will benefit both parties.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, CPQ software helps your sales team sell more by allowing them to easily create accurate and personalized quotes, even for complex configurable products. And through integrations with ERP and CRM systems, data, such as customer, product and pricing data, is accurate on quotes, leading to faster payments and customer satisfaction. On top of that, CPQ software provides cross-selling/upselling opportunities, which positively affects the bottom line. All this and more makes CPQ software a great way to automate and streamline the sales process.

MobileForce’s CPQ+ provides comprehensive product and service configuration, pricing, quoting, contract generation and approval management capabilities that seamlessly integrates with your backoffice systems such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, ServiceNow, SugarCRM, Oracle Sales Cloud, SAP Digital CRM and more.

Request a demo of CPQ+.