Back in the autumn, we held a customer event here in Stockholm. First of all, I love these events. In a world of increasingly impersonal, online communication, it’s a rare chance to connect with customers face-to-face.
At this particular event, the focus is on our customers telling their stories and sharing their experience of implementing Tacton CPQ. It’s a hugely insightful couple of days.
Early on in the event, one of the speakers was introducing his company and its challenges. This was a global industrial equipment manufacturer with sales and services in almost every country. The presenter talked about the company’s sales strategy, which he described as “The SS strategy”, with SS standing for “Sell Something”.
His characterisation struck a chord. The audience laughed spontaneously, he got a round of applause.
In a world where companies are fighting tooth and nail for every bit of business out there, this “sell something” mentality is apparently more common than not. The rationale being that it’s better to sell something than not sell anything at all.
But is this really the case?
Later that day, another speaker, also representing a global manufacturer, came back to this topic as he spoke about the issues that arise when selling indirectly. His company sells through local agents in the South American market. He explained that this sales force went beyond the “sell something” strategy. Their approach was more like “sell anything”.
These agents would position and even sign contracts for equipment that the company didn’t and in some cases, couldn’t manufacture. He described the scene on the shop floor when these orders would come through.
There were more laughs from the audience. And while his telling of the story was amusing, there is a very serious point in all this.
The cost of a “sell something, sell anything” strategy
If your sales force doesn’t have access to up-to-date information about products and pricing, or the knowledge required to position the right products to the customer, they will not only sell less, but you will also likely incur higher design, manufacturing and sales costs. There’s a big risk a deal can even end up costing you money.
Perhaps worse than that, if sales people are making deals that later need to be altered…or can’t be delivered on at all… the customer loses trust.
So how do we address these challenges? After all, a business grows through sales.
It boils down to how we support the interface between the sales department – often incentivised solely on reaching quota – and the engineering and production side of the business that are ultimately responsible for the physical delivery of the products.
And how do you manage this if you’re selling complex or highly customised products that are difficult for sales reps to grasp, and that require configuration-specific cost calculations and quotations?
These challenges are what lead sales departments to adopt a “sell something” and “sell anything” approach in the first place! The information is too hard to get to…it takes too long, and there is too much pressure to sell.
Time to start selling smarter
Fortunately, there is a solution to this. And it comes in the form of CPQ technology.
CPQ bridges the gap between sales and the product and pricing knowledge necessary to assemble the best customer offer. It completely removes the need for sales to stay up-to-date with constant product changes and pricing updates.
A good CPQ tool ensures that the product being proposed is technically valid, and that pricing meets your margin requirements. A great CPQ tool goes beyond this and makes sure that what’s being offered is not just valid, but optimal – for your customer and for you.
With the right tool in place, your sales team will always propose solutions that not only bring maximum value to your customer, but also maximum value to you. For each and every deal.
This is how you move away from the “sell something, sell anything” mentality and start selling smarter.