How do you provide customers with accurate and competitive quotations that can be efficiently manufactured and delivered? Many suppliers of complex equipment face this challenge. It is not that it can’t be done. It is more about the time and effort it takes to create a winning quotation and the very real risk of losing out to more nimble competitors.
Meyn, the world’s leading manufacturer of poultry processing equipment, was struggling with this very issue. The Dutch company is famous for the quality and reliability of its products, and innovation has always been the key to its success. But rapid growth presented some real challenges. With the number of quotation requests growing to over 2,000 per year, the company needed respond with a minimum of effort – without compromising on accuracy.
By partnering with Tacton, Meyn has been able to grab this challenge by the horns and turn it into a competitive advantage.
We sat down with Jan Ras, Manager of Sales Support, and Sicco Saft, Business Analyst, to get into the details of how they managed to transform the quotation process and how they are using CPQ to stay ahead of the competition.
When did you realize you needed a new CPQ tool and why did you choose Tacton?
Ras: “We already had a configurator in place, but it required our sales reps to answer up to 70 questions about product features and options. Early in the sales cycle, the sales team wouldn’t have the insight to answer all the questions, they might only know how many chickens per hour and the weight range of the birds. But without input to each question, the configurator couldn’t produce a valid quote. On top of this, because of the sequential nature of the configurator, a requirement could come up at the end that could affect the entire configuration right back to the beginning and you’d have to go back and adjust everything. It was just too complicated. You needed a lot of knowledge to be able to generate a quote, and even then you could end up configuring a line with errors in it. Our sales people would turn to product specialists, who in their turn often needed to contact the customer again. It took us days to produce a quote, in some cases up to a week. With growing volumes, it just wasn’t working. Our hit rate at the time was around 30%, so a lot of this effort didn’t amount to anything.”
Saft: “The old system was a sequential, rule-based configurator. We realized that it would never meet our needs. We needed a tool where we didn’t have to answer the same question every time there was a change to a requirement. A tool where we could simply define the customer’s business need and for those requirements to automatically filter through to all affected areas. All our customers are different in the way they approach us, so we also wanted to be able to start at any point in the configuration. If you don’t need an answer to a particular question, it shouldn’t matter – the configurator should do the thinking for you. And that is exactly what Tacton does.”
What outcomes were you looking to achieve?
Saft: “We needed a tool that would allow us to quote quickly and accurately at the initial stage of the sales cycle. By simplifying the quotation process we could save time and money and focus efforts on the sales cases that were further along in the process. Our mantra for the project was – quick in the beginning and detailed at the end.
Specifically, we wanted to reduce the number of questions it took to configure a line by 50%, and we wanted more ‘first time right’ quotations.”
What are the main benefits of the Tacton solution?
Ras: “When you’re working with the Tacton configurator, your starting point is an already valid configuration. This makes life a lot easier for our sales reps. They can focus on fine-tuning the configuration for the specific customer needs instead of worrying about defining product details. The need to involve product experts is pretty much history. We can produce a quote for a single machine in less than 15 minutes. A budget quote for a complete processing line takes just 3-4 hours. This is a huge improvement from where we were before.”
Saft: “Today, instead of working through 70 sequential questions, our sales reps only need to answer 15 to configure a complete production line. Bearing in mind these lines can consist of up to 300 types of equipment – this is quite extraordinary!”
You are also using Salesforce CRM. How does this work?
Saft: “By combining Tacton with Salesforce we feel like we’ve got the best of both worlds. Tacton is the best CPQ tool you can find for complex manufacturing and Salesforce is the best CRM tool. Not a lot of vendors can handle our kind of complexity and offer an application that actually performs. And the fact that Tacton integrates so well with Salesforce makes it all the better. Information about customer location, regulatory environments, products and plant & equipment is directly available and can act as default values in Tacton CPQ when you start a configuration. It makes for a very streamlined process.”
Any plans for the future?
Saft: “Tacton and Salesforce fit perfectly into our digital transformation strategy. Ultimately, we want our customers to be able to order the products themselves. This includes after sales, such as providing service contracts or recommending spare parts.”
If you want to know all the details of Meyn’s digital transformation, download their full success story here.