It’s time to invite the rest of the company to the party
The majority of companies with a CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) solution use it for sales configuration. The tool does a great job of making sales teams more effective at selling highly complex and configurable products. And this is critical for any manufacturer.
Having said that, many companies using CPQ software are missing out on the greater potential of their solution. While CPQ is an immensely powerful tool for sales, I believe that it is of equal importance for the rest of the company.
A correctly configured product and a nice looking sales quote with accurate pricing is just part of what a CPQ solution can deliver. There are countless of ways to extend its reach. And its value to your company.
Think beyond sales
The companies that are reaping the greatest benefits from advances in configuration technology are placing the technology centrally, as a single source of information that supports more than just the sales team.
When first implemented, a solution might not cater for detailed configuration requirements. By expanding the solution to also handle the engineer-to-order process, product specialists can support sales directly in the configuration tool. This expansion is an excellent opportunity to bring sales and engineering closer to each other – both in terms of joining up around the CPQ solution itself, but also to gain a better understanding of each other’s needs and challenges.
And it doesn’t have to stop there. Engineers and product development could, and should, work alongside each other within the configuration tool to document product structures and plan the development and release of new product lines or features. Think of a CPQ system as your company’s kitchen table. A place where everybody comes together to share the latest news and most pressing issues. A place where everybody feels at home.
You can also use configuration results to gain insight into what your customers really want. This is enormously powerful information. It can guide product management, helping them to decide where future development efforts should be focused. It can help the purchasing department understand where costs can be cut, or margins improved. And it can help sales understand what solution is the best and most appealing fit for different types of customers.
The order has been placed, but now you need to fulfill it. The product may need to be assembled. Production planning needs to provide planned, and then firm delivery dates. And what about the after-sales department that will handle support of the product for the next 20 or so years? How do they get their information about what you sold today? I’m sure you get the picture …
CPQ – it’s designed for integration
But! (…there’s always a but) What about integration with existing business systems?
A modern CPQ solution is designed from the bottom up to interact with other business areas and systems – ERP, CRM, PLM, CAD applications and more. So why not let it do what it is designed to do?
What I’ve talked about above are just a few examples that highlight why the entire company should be involved when the vision for your CPQ solution is developed. A CPQ solution can, and really should, be used for so much more than just sales configuration. So why keep it exclusive? Invite everyone to join.
Hopefully this post has given you some food for thought. We’ll be covering more about this topic, and how you can prosper from it, in a future post – “The evolution of a CPQ solution”.