Have you ever heard the phrasekickin’ tires before? Maybe not? Basically, it comes from early drivers who would kick tires to ensure they weren’t made of cheap, poor quality rubber. Believe it or not, some would find one kick could deflate a whole tire. Those shoppers aren’t as lucky as we are to be able to visualize products before they’d step on a lot as we do with 3D product visualization.
Potential buyers are still doing this when they’re on car lots across the world. But given the current circumstance, it’s a little hard to step on a lot and kick tires. Finding a viable option to deal with the lack of in-person customer now can also have benefitswhen we return to a more normal routine. 3D product visualization is something many sellers are using to stem the tide between in-person and online shopping. So how can you give the kickin’ tires experience online? Let’s find out.
Change your first impression for the better with 3D product visualization
Consider your last big purchase, did you search online before? Most likely you did, imagine your customer wants to buy a new truck for their construction operation. Would they want to see pictures of any old truck, or are they looking for a customset-up? The answer is yes, everything about your customer’s business is unique from what they haul to where they haul it. Now they’d love to see how it’ll look with a myriad of options. 3D product visualization has you covered to impress your customer.
Start with their 3D product needs
Your group of customers does everything differently, so you need to be able to create a way for each unique one to create a product to their custom needs. With such a wide array of trucks, they can pick which one is the one that fits their needs. Volume restricted goods or a tipper? Your customer can choose quickly in this online product configuration.
Maybe your customer isn’t sure which application they’d like because they are so similar but look how quickly you can change the trailer on the truck with 3D product visualization. The quick visualization gives an accurate expectation to your customer of how certain items will look. This can be done with or without your sales team in the same room as the customer. That may sound like bad news for your team, but it’s actually a great and unique way to keep customers engaged online with your products. Building on their own time will enable them to see the differences in products while creating an emotional attachment to your truck.
Visualization doesn’t have to stop at trailers, your customers can see tires change in real-time. How many do they want? 4×2 or 6×4? The selection of tires can become an essential part of the function of the truck, so picking tires using guided selling can show if a configuration is possible or what would need to change to make it possible.
Kick the tires with photorealistic interactive images
With no showroom to go to quickly be able to show how features change remotely can give your customers a realistic feel for different product features. These tires are changed in an instant to show different product options.
Customers are visual buyers
Your customer wants to see every different feature they’d like. Using 3D visualization is a great option for your sales team to help create a mutual understanding of products online or in person. Creating this type of personalization can go beyond tires and trailers, but extend into other areas of the truck with colors, cabs, and even lights quickly configurable.
Where to next?
We know kickin’ the tires in-person will come back someday, but for now, we’re doing out best to keep in touch with customers and create that in-person feeling. Using 3D visualization can help keep the ball rolling in any industry. The connection you create now with customers will continue in person when you create engaging relationships based on 100% accurate product visuals both you and your customer will enjoy.
Who uses CPQ? This is a question that gets asked a lot more and more these days as Configure, Price, Quote solutions become the norm for many manufacturers
Many manufacturers have started their digital transformation journeys and defining their CPQ users has become an integral part of their success. Many companies begin their engineering and sales team as the initial CPQ users, but did you know that it’s possible to extend the solution to different departments of your business? Let’s take a look at some unexpected beneficiaries of CPQ.
CPQ Users 1: Sales
The rapid shift to online buying and selling has been a bumpy ride for some manufacturers. Without CPQ your sales team has to use manual processes to create the custom, complex products your customer wants. This manual process leads to long response times, inaccurate quotes, and an unhappy customer. This doesn’t even account for the high costs of training new sales reps on an increasingly complex product catalog. Often times customers are looking for a more visual experience, that isn’t offered in many sales pitches by manufacturers.
All of those challenges for the sales organization can be solved with CPQ. It’s possible to connect every process together for a streamlined buying experience ensuring that sales always delivers the right quotes and sells a deliverable product. Even your newest sales rep with the help of guided selling can quickly become an expert on the product because CPQ creates only accurate products and even CAD drawings to show customers. Enhancing the customer experience is possible with visualization that shows the final product in the real-world environment where it will be placed.
Understanding the manufacturing brand and connecting customers to create a profitable pipeline for sales isn’t always an easy task for the marketing team at manufacturing companies. With an online and high-touch buying journey for customers. Meeting these customers with a personalized experience for a great experience is the goal. This turns into high-quality leads for the sales team. But how can manufacturing go from B2B to a B2C experience?
That’s right, CPQ with visualization extends the custom product configuration to customers directly from a manufacturers’ website. Just like Nike does with their custom shoes, manufacturers are beginning to do with their products. Now that customers have the stunning, and accurate visual of their product it’s critical to capitalize on their interest. Self-service is another important aspect of marketing. With self-service customers will be able to start the process of buying a product, that is actually configurable, before even talking with the sales team. This may sound not so great for your sales team, but capturing interest via self-service will help sell to an existing or new customer while allowing more time to deal with bigger accounts.
With so much back and forth between engineering and sales on product specs, technical requirements, and more it’s important to try and streamline this process to enable engineers to work on creating innovative products instead of time-consuming administrative tasks. This doesn’t even account for the management of seemingly infinite product variations that need multiple systems to manage the data.
Streamlining and digitalizing these commercial, engineering, and factory processes with CPQ gives the users one source of data truth. That’s because CAD automation enables engineering and sales to deliver product specifications that can actually be produced. Being able to quickly and effectively solve technical product variance challenges using accurate product data and analytics can be another added bonus of CPQ.
Check out how CAD automation is helping sales and engineering streamline the sales process
CPQ User 4: The project lead
Identifying the challenges of a digital transformation journey with CPQ requires your digital team to understand the current business challenges, define a clear problem, desired outcome and the time to value. This means managing stakeholders such as marketing, sales, and engineering while navigating the project.
This means reinventing and future-proofing the operation from customer experience to the back office operations for deliverable solutions. Being able to gain a complete understanding of the challenges and articulate them across the organization will enable a fully cross-functional team that utilized CPQ in an optimized way
CPQ User 5: The information and technology teams
Understanding the relationship between operational, informational, IoT, cloud, marketing, sales, and analytic technologies and the importance of strong integrations is critical to a successful CPQ project. Setting the proper strategy and ensuring the right tech is used and adopted throughout the business is a challenge that the IT and tech teams face.
With powerful integration capabilities, CPQ is able to work with any CRM, ERP, PIM, PLM, CAD and eCommerce solutions on the market. These integrations streamline the process for every part of the organization ensuring everyone from sales to factory is working with reliable software.
The more CPQ users the better
To sum it up, the more CPQ is used across the organization the more complete and exciting the journey will be for your customer. Tacton CPQ extends past the typical use of CPQ for just sales or engineering. This value to marketing, project management, IT, and tech will help create full buy-in from the team. Ready to learn more about our holistic digital transformation efforts? Book your custom demo with us today!
Creating an eCommerce Experience with Visualization is the next frontier of manufacturing
2020 taught us a lot of lessons, the main one for manufacturers is that it’s a necessity to enable an eCommerce journey for customers. We’ve learned a lot and so have manufacturers who have started creating an exciting sales journey for their customers.regardless of where they are located. Many of our manufacturing customers have found ways to shift to an online journey, and they all share one secret, visual configuration. Let’s look at just how much the market has shifted in the past year and why visualization is important for long-term eCommerce success for manufacturers.
New to visualization for manufacturing? A quick definition:
Visual product configuration (also known as Visual Configuration, or 3D product configuration) is the combined use of digital technologies (Augmented Reality, 2D and 3D visualization software) in order to be able to configure products directly in the three-dimensional visual representation. Visual Configuration software enables your sales team and customers to configure their 3D products quickly and accurately from anywhere.
A rapid shift to an eCommerce experience with visualization
In the last year, alone manufacturers have started looking for different solutions to work with a reduced workforce and an increasingly online customer. Just check out how much go-to-market models have changed since April 2020.
With so many companies changing their go-to-market strategies it’s important to consider how internal initiatives are affecting your own manufacturing business. With so many companies finally shifting to online sales it’s time to go beyond just a normal eCommerce journey, with simple product photos, technical drawings, or even text-based descriptions. Customers want to see their product, interact with every change and see how it will fit in their real-life workspace or environment.
B2C companies like Nike have been doing this for years. Other companies are using visualizations to place furniture, medical equipment and more in the real-life environment of a perspective buyer. Creating custom products intrigues buyers, keeps them online longer, and will ultimately get them to spend more this isn’t just a trend, but something that can transform a manufacturing customer experience.
A custom journey for every customer
Think about those shoes again for a moment. Everyone who goes to the Nike ID store wants something a little different. Their favorite colors, materials and more are picked out with exact detail for the shoes. They are quickly shown the product they want in a fun 3D interactive way and can quickly check out. That’s where manufacturing and the typical B2C journey split.
Manufacturers often sell highly configurable products that can only work with certain product features. A pair of shoes has its limits on what you can change, a Nike Swoosh color won’t make the sole of the shoes do not work. If you create a truck, for example, the bed of the truck may need six tries to support one product feature but need 8 to support a different one.
Without accurate quotes and visuals, it’s more likely to create products that have design errors, costing money and time for your business and upsetting your customers. That’s why it’s important to visually create the custom products your customer wants. Giving them visuals will cut down on errors, lead to upsell opportunities and create that wow factor you’ve been looking for.
Think bigger for your eCommerce process
Once a prospect identifies their needs, it’s time for industrial manufacturers to reinvent their buying experience usingConfigure, Price, Quote (CPQ) with Visualization– all integrated into their website and internal systems. This enables a seamless buying experience across channels that connects customers directly to your brand. Powered by CPQ integrated into your web experience, anyone has thepower to configure highly customized industrial manufacturing products based on their defined needs.
Guided selling asks questions based on customer requirements, building an optimized solution in real-time. When paired with 3D visual configuration, the customer can see every change they make on their screen in real-time.
Additionally, leading visualization capabilities include augmented reality (AR)for an even more immersive B2C-like experience. A powerful CPQ paired with 3D Visualization all but guarantees you are generating high quality leads with low touch- all through your website. After all, when is the last time anyone comfortably made an eCommerce purchase without visuals?
Go beyond standard eCommerce visualization with Tacton
Creating clothing, shoes, furniture, luggage, and more is a classic use case for many visualization companies, but if you’re in the manufacturing industry it’s time to go beyond with a combination of CPQ and visual configuration. Here are just a few reasons Tacton goes beyond the typical visualization for manufacturers:
Visual Asset Creation
Manufacturing products are bigger and more complex than ever. This makes input data much larger, taking time to prepare especially to ensure acceptable performance quality. Fitting together these parts with geometrical constraints and parametric components adds just another layer of complexity. This is all that goes into just one product, not doing that with an entire product portfolio may be challenging. Many 3rd party visualizations simply can’t handle the complexity.
With so many moving parts in manufacturing products it’s important to be able to define what is changing, when, and how. Imagine visually configuring a truck and changing the bed of the truck, the wheels may need to change, typical visualizations would make you restart the process, Tacton visual configuration enables you to see the changes in real-time. This also helps with updating configuration and constraints which are constantly changing. If a product is updated in CPQ those changes will be reflected in the visualization.
Self-Service and visual configuration
Embedding a visual product configurator directly on your website can be part of a self-service customer experience that will make you the envy of the industry. After all, customers are more likely to spend more time, and more money on a product they’ve built themselves. Check out the amount of money customers are willing to spend if they have a self-service experience:
With fewer human interactions buyers are still willing to pay top dollar for their custom products. It all starts with a visually appealing product. Visual configuration remains an essential part of the buying journey for customers. The more excited they are about the product, the more likely they are to buy the product and come back for more. Real-time visualizations can make all the difference in empowering your online customer journey. Reinventing how you sell products sounds intimidating, but the benefits will keep your operation running fast, with leads and sales being more interested than ever in your products.
CPQ Success Story: Husky’s Solution Time Reduced 75% with Tacton CPQ
Husky Injection Molding Systems is a global leader in supplying injection molding equipment and services. With over 4,000 employees worldwide Husky supports customers in over 100 countries.
Industry leader Husky faced a quoting accuracy challenge
Husky was facing a challenging quoting process for their hot runner business when they realized they needed to consider 60-70 variables for each solution. These variables may seem small, but behind each variable was a set of guidelines for what to select into a configuration and there were thousands of guidelines. This meant the sales engineers managing the quote would have to do manual work across multiple systems in Excel and look-up charts.
This led to inconsistent and incorrect quotes for their customers. But most importantly – the process took too long, resulting in missed sales opportunities to the competition. In a business with short sales cycles and high volume, speed is key to stay competitive. Husky also faced challenges with their internal collaboration. Sales and engineering teams would use different tools for different parts of the quoting process, resulting in inefficiencies and disconnected data flows.
The search for the optimal solution
When Husky began looking for a solution to their issues they wanted to work with a vendor that had a track record of manufacturing expertise. Their previous CPQ supplier struggled with Husky’s product complexity, a common occurrence for manufacturers. Husky’s IT had to maintain the tool, resulting in a change request backlog.
Looking towards Industry 4.0
A digital transformation required a solution that would span across different business operations. From sales to engineering, they searched for a solution that would work for anyone who needed to configure products. Husky’s search led them to Tacton’s Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solutions.
With Tacton, Husky finally found a tool that can handle their product complexity while cutting the time spent on their tens of thousands of quotes per year by 75%. Working with Tacton also helps Husky prepare more than 95% of the engineering bill of materials, which allows engineers to focus on innovation. Tacton also enables a seamless flow of information from Husky’s CRM through to order fulfillment for a fully supported sales process.
Steffen Bönecke, Director of Global Engineering and Operation Transformation at Husky, describes how Tacton has helped revolutionize Husky’s digital strategy: “We want to use every solution in their key area of expertise – and for us, Tacton’s main area of expertise is product configuration and supporting our solutioning processes globally.”
Consistently branded documentation for each quote – provides a consistent, reliable customer experience.
Lower warranty cost – an incorrect configuration of a solution can cost thousands of euros/dollars. When other tools were used, incorrect configurations were common. With Tacton, there has never been an incorrect configuration made.
Ease of use for new salespeople, guiding them to find the optimal product configuration that matches their customer’s needs.
Adoption of new products – it typically took a very long time to get new products out in the market.
Husky is a global leader in injection molding manufacturing systems
Husky designs, manufactures and integrates the industry’s most comprehensive range of injection molding equipment, including hot runners and controllers. Husky has one of the broadest product lines in the industry.
“For Husky’s digital transformation it’s key to use “best of breed solutions” that span across all businesses. Tacton is a key element in Husky’s sales process.” – Steffen Bönecke, Director of Global Engineering and Operation Transformation, Husky
Creating your own CPQ Success story start with a quick click
Learn more about how Tacton is helping manufacturers work smarter and more efficiently with CPQ, Design Automation and visual configuration today by scheduling your personalized demo today!
This week we had the chance to sit down with Mikkel Drucker our Chief Growth Officer (CGO) for some quick questions on how the modern manufacturing CMO role is changing to be a leader for digital transformation.
Mikkel has been with Tacton since August 2018 and has transformedmarketingby doubling the team and going to pure digital tactics. Before Tacton, Mikkel worked with global leaders such as Nokia, Telenor, TrustPilot, and Atea.
How have you seen the CMO role evolve over the past decade?
The role has evolved significantly thanks to advancements in tech, data, and the increased focus on business outcomes. While brand awareness remains relevant, brand experience is more encompassing due to the importance of the customer journey from online research through the product lifecycle. As we all know, technology changes everything.
With better martech solutions, marketing teams can become more efficient and work faster.Marketing leadership is no different. Understanding the evolution of my role in delivering sustainable growth through a personalized customer experience driven by smarter solutions and analytics has been essential.Without a comprehensive customer-firstapproach, it’s difficult to succeed.
What are some of the top qualities of today’s modern manufacturing CMO?
I see the modern CMO having a lot of great qualities, but these are some of the most important ones:
Growth driver: Play a leading role in the organization by drivingtowards sustainable revenue growth. This is achieved by delivering a personalized customer experience across channels that connect customers to your brand in a meaningful way.
Customerchampion: Always think about the customer. Where are they? How do they behave? How are they interacting with your brand? What intelligence is available to help meet the customers when and where they are in a meaningful way? Champion that throughout your organization and ensure everyone understands their role in the customer experience.
Storyteller: You must tell stories both inside and outside the organization. When creating engaging stories, customers can become part of your brand and are the stars of the narrative.
Nimble: The path to your desired outcome is not always linear. Therefore, you must drive a culture of ‘test and learn’. Be ready to change direction at a moment’s notice when you realize that your approach is not yielding customer engagement or impact.
How do some of these qualities translate to the marketing leaders in manufacturing?
I think we are seeing a shift in the industrial manufacturing space. A shift where CMO’s are getting more involved in the digital transformation. The days of “flags and balloons” old school marketing are gone.Leaders must be focused on an engaging brand and customer experience that resonates. With manufacturers amid the 4th industrial revolution, technology is beginning to change their entire organization. The leading manufacturers areinvesting in the best tech to deliver on customer expectation of a personalized, B2C-like experience when they purchase industrial products.
KPIs are all over the place, what are some of the more important ones for you?
Generating high–quality leads and opportunities for Sales
Brand awareness through delivering a great brand experience
Net Promoter Score, which gives us an idea on how our relationship with customers is doing
Revenue/Profitability Growth of the organization
How have you utilized data-driven insights to better understand the manufacturing industry?
I stay very informed with our customers, prospects, and analysts by being on all the calls and meetings I can. If you listen to the customer, you can stay atop on the challenges they face day-to-day. Analysts are also a great resource for understanding trends, challenges, and specific industry verticals. If you listen to the customer, you can capably bring them into your story in a meaningful and relevant way. On the data side, our martech stacks enable us to turn insights into action.
Business transformations take courage. How are you empowering not only your team but manufacturers to take that next step?
In our team,we see consistent changes in our business environment. I am a strong proponent for growth hacking. We don’t know the direct line to success, so we need to work closely together and leverage the collective intelligence and creativity to constantly explore opportunitiesfor growth. So I trust everybody on our team to lead the charge on their individual projects and hacks.
For our manufacturing customers, our key philosophy is to simplify and enable. We want to make it easier for our customers to serve their own customers on any channel available. By giving them the opportunity to meet their customers anywhere it lets them learn more about their products and customers. Insights can start from anywhere, and manufacturing marketing teams have a chance to give a new, and exciting experience for their customers.
Where do you see the role of CMO going over the next 5years?
I see the space of lead generation, customer experience, and growth increasingly merging. It’s all about meeting the prospect/customer where they are, when they want, and what they need. We must make sure that this experience is connected and seamless, and thus having one role overseeing that will be increasingly important for companies’ brand and revenue generation.
What advice would you give to young marketers out there?
Drive a creative, and visionary culture, learn more about your customers. The smallest detail helps you become even more customer–focused. Explore the world, the different cultures, and different ideas that are all at our fingertips daily.
Let have some fun questions to end:
What is your favorite weekend trip?
A getaway with my wife in the French Alps
What’s your favorite seat on an airplane?
I commute every week to Stockholm, and predictable commuting is key to me. So, I have become addicted to seat 2F.
Which countries have you lived in? US, Denmark, South Korea, Malaysia, UK.
Thanks, Mikkel for taking the time. If you’d like to read more about how
This week’s author is Tacton’s Chief Growth Officer, Mikkel Drucker! Mikkel has been with Tacton since August 2018 and has transformedmarketingby doubling the team and utilizing pure digital tactics. Before Tacton, Mikkel worked with global leaders such as Nokia, Telenor, TrustPilot and Atea.
According to Forrester purchases through sales reps declined from 46% to 42% since the start of the pandemic. These numbers indicate a move to an online sales journey, something manufacturers have struggled with.
Differentiating your brand from your competition can be a tall task, believe me, I’ve spent the better part of my career working with business strategy, brand management, and business development. I’ve seen trends come and go but one thing remains the same, knocking off the competition isn’t easy, but can be done with quality products and a great customer experience.
With my crash coursein the manufacturing industry during my time with Tacton I’ve seen many manufacturers struggle to create the brand loyalty that companies in other industries have created. There is good news, breaking the status quo is part of the new normal.
It starts with generating high-quality leads
If customers are starting their buying process researching online, traditional digital marketing tactics won’t suffice. In order to generate high-quality leads in manufacturing, it’s necessary to drive breakthrough customer experiences starting in the configuration process.
The customer experience starts with researching product information, features, benefits, and vendors online. We have all heard ‘content is king, but’ it’s becoming more difficult to stand out amongst a crowded competitive field without giving an immersive customer experience.
Join us and other manufacturing leaders such as nVent, Atlas Copco and Intershop for a webinar discussing the challenges of becoming customer-centric in a time of great disruption
Once a prospect identifies their needs, it’s time for industrial manufacturers to reinvent their buying experience using Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) with Visualization— all integrated into their website and internal systems. This enables a seamless buying experience across channels that connects customers directly to your brand.
Powered by CPQ integrated into your web experience, anyone has the power to configure highly customized industrial manufacturing products based on their defined needs. Guided selling asks questions based on customer requirements, building an optimized solution in real-time. When paired with 3D visual configuration, the customer can see every change they make on their screen in real-time.
Additionally, leading visualization capabilities include augmented reality (AR) for an even more immersive B2C-like experience. A powerful CPQ paired with 3D Visualization all but guarantees you are generating high quality leads with low touch- all through your website. After all, when is the last time anyone comfortably made an eCommerce purchase without visuals?
Pro Tip: Do not let a digital transformation happen without Visualization!
It might seem tempting to hold off or move to phase two for cost purposes, but do not let digital transformation and your CPQ project exclude visualization. Reinventing B2B sales means creating an innovative B2C-like buying experience. To be successful, Visualization is a top requirement.
The ultimate opportunity
During the current crisis, manufacturers everywhere are searching for new ways to build a world-class B2C-like customer experience. That’s why it’s time for manufacturers to break free from the status quo and deploy new, and exciting ways to engage with customers in a way that builds brand quality and trust. If you’d like a little more info on how Marketing can lead the charge for digital transformation check out my piece:The Modern Manufacturing CMO
Organizations before the COVID-19 pandemic had to constantly evolve themselves to stay ahead of the curve of increasingly custom demands for highly configurable products. The current situation is going to change how everyone works for at least the foreseeable future. Coping with these changes won’t be easy, but manufacturers who search for innovative solutions can get ahead and stay ahead of every competitor using remote CPQ solutions.
Where to start?
Today’s modern B2B customer has increasingly sophisticated expectations and behaviors when purchasing new products. For industrial manufacturers, this means they need new, smart ways to sell their products and solutions. For most, what technology is available in-house is a crucial success factor and can make or break their deals.
Manufacturers of highly configurable products have long relied on in-person meetings to sell their products, but even before the pandemic created a new manufacturing challenge, customers began looking for companies that could offer an online B2B experience. Without face-to-face meetings, it can be difficult to imagine how to sell high variant products but that can change using CPQ. With so much uncertainty in the coming months, it may seem foolish to start looking for innovative solutions, but right now is the time to invest in future-proof remote CPQ solutions.
Be everywhere with remote CPQ solutions
Customers were interacting less with your sales team before and now are moving towards an increasingly online buying journey. New digital transformation strategies must put customer engagement at the forefront whether online direct sales or through partner channels. While new for many manufacturers, an omnichannel manufacturing experience is necessary for engaging with customers across the channels they choose. A true omnichannel experience goes beyond face-to-face interactions with your sales team and extends your reach with customer self-service for configurable products. Centralizing the customer experience within CPQ is a great way to keep customers coming back for more with an easy and dynamic buying and selling process.
Manufacturers who extend their reach across any channel to showcase their products will be able to separate themselves from every competitor by giving customers the chance to build their products anywhere, anytime with 100% accuracy.
Visualize the Sale
Modern technologies for visualization and visual configuration are ideal to meet the increasing digital requirements and expectations of customers.
What is visual product configuration?
Visual product configuration is the combined use of digital technologies in order to be able to configure products directly in a three-dimensional visual representation. Customers can build their own products and understand how configuration choices impact the final product. Enabling customers with remote CPQ visual configuration solutions also reduces costly miscommunications by showing every detail, even the smallest bolt on a product. Without in-person meetings, companies who use augmented reality apps can visualize your product in their own space.
How can visual product configuration help my demo?
Adding visualization to your online demos can make a huge difference in how you show your products to customers. With that being said they can even join in on the fun using QR codes and the Tacton AR app. Increasing customer engagement even if it’s from afar goes a long way in being innovative. Customers don’t want a boring demo based heavily on text-based product descriptions, they want to see your products, so give them what they want with visualization.
How can remote CPQ keep my team connected?
Finding tools that make collaborating easier for your employees makes their lives easier, so why wouldn’t you find one helps engineers and your sales team? Cloud-based CPQ can offer much more that can help future-proof a business. Cloud-based CPQ has been used internally for years now, but it has evolved to further connect your internal teams and customers. With team members working from all over it is important to keep everyone aligned on customer needs. Having the right cloud-based CPQ solution will allow for smooth and consistent communication to reach these goals. Even when changes are reflected in real-time for customers and your team to see.
Connect every process
From CRM (Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics) to ERP (SAP VC & ECC) to even eCommerce, CPQ integrations connect every business-critical solution you or your customer deploy.
Analyze the products
With razor-thin room for inefficient processes, CPQ analytics enables customers to dig deep into how their products are working. Learn what products are selling, and which are not. Removing unused products saves you time and money. Design specific configurations that are adapted to region, market and customer to accelerate your sales. All of these things can save time and money for your company by unlocking the wealth of data CPQ analytics offers.
Interested in learning more?
We’ve all had to adapt to the current situation, Tacton is no different, but with CPQ we’ve been able to help our customers adapt. This adaptation will enable them to maximize and optimize every solution throughout the length of the crisis. Every last cent counts, so making an innovative decision now by learning more about Tacton’s remote CPQ solution can make all the difference.
Sign up for your demo today and leave your competition behind.
When referring to visualization as 2D, you are typically stating that the result of the visualization is a static two-dimensional image (width and height). The “2D” reference is not saying anything about what that result image is displaying. It could be a simple line drawing, a computer-generated image (CGI) showing a product in a three-dimensional perspective or real photography made with a camera.
Very common examples of line drawings are technical drawings derived from CAD providing relevant construction and manufacturing data like all necessary parts and dimensions. They typically show a product from pre-defined viewpoints looking straight to the front, side and top with an orthographic projection of the product, so all relevant information is extractable and non-ambiguous.
CAD drawings are often generated after the actual configuration process and provided together with the proposal and potentially the corresponding CAD for further verification and usage in subsequent processes.
(Image of a technical CAD drawing)
CGI 3D visualizations are typically showing products in a photorealistic and real-life looking way mimicking real-world photography. Those images are generated with the virtual equivalent to a real-world photo studio and therefore often referred to as virtual photography. Like in the real-world the product, in the form of 3D data, is placed in a “virtual” photo studio, defining background, lighting, and cameras to produce a single and specifically designed shot of the product.
It is a static setup for a picture from one precisely pre-defined angle and distance. For a different viewpoint, typically many parts of the studio are rearranged, like the background or the lights. Production of those photorealistic images can take up to several hours for one picture depending on the desired fidelity and resolution. The result is often an image that is hardly distinguishable from a real photo and therefore perfectly suitable for design and aesthetical oriented products and presentations.
(Image of CGI 3D visualization)
Since everything in an image is static, the background, the lights, the viewpoint and of course the product and its configuration, every variation needs to get their own image. Depending on the product and its configuration complexity this approach can very quickly lead to thousands of individual images necessary to cover everything wanted. Quality assurance gets very cumbersome and time-consuming and changes of a few settings can easily lead to re-producing many pictures all over again.
There techniques available to reduce the number of individual pictures by not producing complete product visualization but only parts of the products and assembling those part images at runtime, but those techniques have their own restrictions and problems making the whole system and delivery setup much more complicated. The flexibility at runtime is typically paid with many more pictures to produce up-front and to manage over the lifetime.
(Images generated with a real-time compositing technique)
CGI is not very suited to visualize products with high configuration complexity and many parametric variants. Additionally, since a single image only covers a certain view on the product, interactivity needs to be bought with even more individual images.
Best use cases are either for simple, well-known products where it is possible to cover/showcase the few variants of the product from a few different viewpoints or for special key shots of any kind of products to highlight certain features or to present the product in an attractive and real-world looking way.
(Image of a simple product with focus on design)
In contrast to 2D visualization, 3D visualization is referring to real-time and interactive 3D visualization. At first glance, the results can look quite similar, but the main difference is that the resulting visualization is produced in real-time in the moment of viewing it and not up-front and that it is possible to freely explore and interact with the created 3D world. Therefore, all necessary data and information for the visualization need to be transferred to the device displaying the visualization.
That device needs the capabilities and functionalities to process those and render the resulting image several times per second to produce a smooth running and highlight interactive real-time visualization. This technique brings certain advantages compared to a 2D visualization but constraints as well with it.
Since everything is rendered right in the moment of usage, the visualization is highly reactive and flexible. It is possible to view everything from every possible viewpoint and angle. It is possible to rotate, move and zoom individually for every user. And it is also possible to interact with the visualization in a natural way like dragging and dropping objects around and adjusting them as an inherent functionality of 3D real-time visualization.
(Image of dragging objects in the 3D visualization)
It is also unnecessary to pre-calculate and generate all possible variants and combinations possible which enables showing the full complexity and parametric variance of a product without pre-producing them. Thisenablesa much more flexible and adaptive creation and maintenance processsupporting the most complex products and their updates and changes over their lifetime.
(Image of parametric product visualized with 3D real-time visualization)
Visual fidelity is in most cases not an issue anymore since modern graphic cards and hardware capabilities allow high visual fidelity in real-time for most use cases. And it is also possible to render technical drawing style visualizations with 3D real-time visualization as well, which means it is possible to completely mimic a 2D visualization with a 3D visualization.
(Image of a real-time 3D visualization software with focus on high visual fidelity)
Depending on where the 3D real-time visualization is running, on the client/user side or on a server as a streaming solution, specific requirements on hardware and internet connection of the displaying device need to be met to enable and support a smooth and adequate visual experience. This also adds additional constraints and requirements on the data being produced and later used for the 3D visualization software in contrast to a pre-rendered 2D visualization only sending over individual pre-rendered images to the displaying device.
But the gotten flexibility and agility of the 3D real-time visualization compared to the static 2D visualization allows supporting high complex variant products, parametric configurations, and more engaging and immersive experience.
What is CPQ? and How does 3D Visualization help CPQ?
Configure Price Quote (CPQ) software platforms help manufacturers use self-service, guided (and remote) selling to accurately configure complex products and services for prospective customers. CPQ solutions help manufacturers ensure correct pricing, deliver personalized and highly customized quotes, and massively accelerate the time it takes a salesperson to create a proposal using spreadsheets. Time-consuming back and forth approval sessions between the customer, the engineering team and the sales team are also minimized.
Utilizing 3D visualization software enables your buyers to see the real-time virtual image of their products. Enabling them to see their products creates an emotional connection while also eliminating costly design errors, down to the smallest detail. Customers can also use Self-Service to build the products on their own time, adding to a multichannel approach for your manufacturing operation.
How can I use visualization remotely?
With the outbreak of COVID-19 sales teams across industries have been thrown into uncharted territories, manufacturing is no exception. Selling in-person is out of the question for the foreseeable future. Like many other businesses, your company must find new ways to succeed in the market while working from home.
The smallest details count when it comes to selling manufacturing products. It can be difficult during a demo to explain just how one small part can affect the entire setup of any particular product. That being said it is possible to provide the optimal solution and an accurate visual representation of the product using visual configuration.
With 3D visualization, it’s easier than ever to create photo-realistic visuals of customized products in realtime. Lack of product knowledge, misunderstandings, and different expectations cut into revenue, margin and customer experience.
Now that you’ve got a quick lesson on 2D and 3D visualization:
it’s time to learn more about how visualizations can change how you sell your manufacturing products. Check out some of our resources for a deeper look:
The current state of visual configuration and Augmented Reality (AR)aresomeof the top trends changing how manufacturers do business. But how does visualization change how you sell to your customers, or how does it save time for your engineers? These are important questions to ask before you dive into 3D product configuration.
Luckily for you, we sought the expert opinion of Tacton’s Senior Visualization Product Manager, Marco Lang. Marco brings more than a decade of experience working with Lumo Graphics and Tacton.
Let’s start out with an easy one: What is 3D Product configuration/visual configuration?
Visual Configuration is a tool that empowers sales representatives as well as the end customers to sell or buy a product on their own by making use of different visualization technologies. This ranges from simple and static “2D” images simply displaying the current configuration, over 3D real-time visualizations allowing to intact with the product and configure it more naturally, to AR/VR use cases making the whole sales experience more immersive and tangible for all participants by displaying it in real-life environments.
What is the problem without having a visual configurator in your sales toolbox?
Without visuals, products are left to the imagination of customers, so their expectations may not be met when the final product rolls off your assembly line. Now more than ever it’s critical to showcase your products in better ways than just a text description. The new B2B buyer won’t wait for you to make a product with errors, they will move on to another business who can fill their needs.
Most manufacturing sales cycles are long, how can visualization shorten this journey?
Seeing is much faster than reading (human brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than they do text, University of Minnesota) or giving a verbal explanation of the product. What You See Is What You Get. Miscommunication is significantly reduced, and the agreement is achieved much quicker. With visuals, your customers will be able to truly engage with their product. They can build something that is branded specifically for the different facets of their industry. Emotions are a powerful motivator, the look and feel of a product in a customer’s environment will help them realize how they will use it. You are able to reduce the need for physical examples in the field as well if speeding up the long sales cycle.
Visualization helps my sales team, but how does it help my engineering team?
Visualization creates a mutual understanding between your sales team and your customers. Once a product has been visually configured, even the smallest details aren’t missed. Now that your sales team and customer agree upon the design your engineers will get a product that doesn’t miss any detail, big or small. Engineering can now concentrate on solving the more complex design questions and leave the “basic” product visualization task to the Visual Configurator. Simplifying the complex configuration process with visuals mitigates the risk of combination errors, saving you time and money.
How does visual configuration and AR enhance my customers’ experience?
Buyers are visual by nature, no one wants to purchase a product sight unseen, so why wouldn’t you offer them the visuals they deserve? 3D interaction is the natural way of experience products in real life, no more guessing games. AR immerses customers with your product by allowing them to see the design, look and feel of a product, something that plays a critical role in the sales pitch. And verifying the design and dimensions of a product in the real-life spot where it will be placed later on is making the buying and configuration process much more valuable.
Lastly, how does Visual Configuration fit into Tacton CPQ?
Tacton Visual Configuration is fully integrated with Tacton’s advanced CPQ software. This integration helps accelerate the entire product configuration process through visually supported communication. The first step to selling your product is with visuals that capture the imagination of the buyers. We did it for example with MAN Truck & Bus and we can do it with your business.
Bonus question: A lot of people are interested in digital twin technology, so what is it?
A Digital Twin is a virtual representation of a physical product. It is typically used across the entire lifecycle of a product from engineering/design all way through training and maintenance. Therefore, it can be used for different purposes from testing, validation, prediction, simulation, analysis. For our visual configuration solution, we are using a Digital Twin as well. It is called a 3D real-time Digital Twin. A visual representation of the real-world product tailored to be used for supporting the configuration of a high variant product in real-time.
Today customers expect more when they are buying from manufacturers. With so many options how can your company capitalize on new technology to win deals and enhance the customer experience? Now your company must go beyond traditional B2B sales and use technology that allows for an omnichannel, self-service experience while empowering your sales team to showcase products for their customers.In fact, Gartner’s research shows if your competitor is using visual configuration and AR, you are being outsold.
So, what is 3D Visualization?
Visual configuration is a series of technologies that include 2D/3D visualizations, augmented reality, and CAD automation. In simple terms, visualization allows your customers and internal teams to interact with the product in various contexts, including customers’ own environment. These different solutions usually integrate with other programs such as CPQ, CRM, and ERP.
How can it help your team sell?
With visualization your sales team can quickly configure the product for the customer in real-time, no more waiting for CAD drawings when the team can show a product in minutes. Next, your sales team can show how the product will fit in the environment it will be used in. Many deals hinge on being able to see a product quickly. With 3D visualization, it’s possible to show them in real-time.
How else can I use visual configuration?
These tools are perfect for your sales team when they are out in the field, but they can also be hosted on your company’s website for lead generation. With more than 57%, according to the Gartner Corporate Executive Board, of research being done before a customer reaches out to a supplier, it is a necessity to show how easy it is to configure yourproduct through self-service functions. Using an interactive visualization tool that has features such as drag and drop allows for your customer to directly engage in the building of their product.
How will this help me outsell my competition?
Manufacturers continue to lose customers to cheaper, more nimble competition which makes implementing visualization even more important. Your sales team will be able to visualize the sale to your customers in minutes instead of weeks. Accelerating sales by showing them in real-time. This can even be done on mobile devices to enhance the customer experience.
Another unique way visualization helps outsell your competition is by having a visual configurator on your website for lead generation. By moving mass customization to online self-service, your customers see how fast they can configure products based on their needs.
This will also add a WOW factor to your sales pitch, giving the customer something other than your word on how a product will fit. Allowing an interactive buying experience will engage your customers, enhance their experience and keep them as long-time clients.Now your sales team can go beyond B2B sales by offering an omnichannel, self-service experience with visual configuration.
Visual configuration is just one of the many solutions included with Tacton Smart Commerce that brings the seller and buyer closer together. Check out our Smart Commerce eBook to find out how to take your sales pitch to the next level.