Yes, it’s a bold statement. But let’s take a minute to look at it.
Most companies implement CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote) software in order to streamline their sales process and manage product complexity. However, there’s a whole other side to CPQ that more and more manufacturers are waking up to – lead generation.
These companies have found that by embedding an intelligent product configurator software directly on their websites, they are impressing customers, capturing interest and fuelling growth.
In this post, I’ll discuss some of the benefits of making your product configurator available on your public website, including some real-life examples from manufacturers who have already made the move.
Engage customers in a whole new way with online product configurator software
Consider this scenario. A prospect arrives at our website. This happens to be your modern, savvy buyer who likes to do a bit of research on their own before making contact. This prospect will probably, look around at the product information and make some notes before swiftly moving on to the next vendor. Our company has been discovered, part of our web-content was studied and the visitor moved on. And more importantly, this may all have happened without us really realizing that the prospect is out there looking!
Now consider a different scenario. Our manufacturer has embedded an intelligent product configurator with interactive 3D visual configuration capabilities, directly on its website.
Instead of moving on to the next supplier, the prospect starts entering requirements into the configurator. They discover that they can enter and change inputs as they please – there are no set sequences to be followed. They can even configure visually if they prefer – selecting, dragging and dropping product features and options. It’s easy and it’s intuitive.
As our buyer effortlessly navigates the configurator and sees their product evolving on-screen, they are starting to commit our offer and our company to memory. We’re now firmly on the prospect’s radar and more than that, our company is setting the bar for the rest of the market.
By making a product configurator available on your public website, you can invite prospects into the world of your products in a whole new way.
Capture interest and leads
While this is compelling in itself, there is another benefit with an even bigger upside.
When prospects engage with your products online, you can collect valuable information about them, their needs and their preferences. And by connecting your CPQ solution with your CRM, your sales team or resellers can then easily identify these leads at the right stage and engage in a meaningful and informed dialogue with the prospect. Not only do you know that the prospect is looking, but you know what they are looking at, and the depth of their interest.
These companies are already in the game
Bürkert, a manufacturer of fluid control systems recently made a limited version of its configurator available online. This customer-focused company already provides an easy and convenient ordering system for its standard products through a webshop, but felt that it should be able to use the online channel for customized solutions as well.
The tool enables Bürkert’s customers to create a high-level configuration that shows the type of product they will need. IT Application Consultant, Michael Haak describes the unexpectedly quick uptake, “Even though the tool is only in its early stages, it’s already a big success from a lead generation perspective. Our marketing department reports a lot of new leads coming from the tool, and we haven’t even promoted it yet! Going forward, the idea is that our customers will be able to self-serve across most of our ranges from the tool.” – Read the full case study.
Agricultural components company Kramp has taken it a step further and is offering its customers the ability to place orders from the tool. The customer configures their product to exact business requirements and, once finished, they have instant access to validated 2D and 3D drawings, pricing and delivery time. If satisfied, they then simply place the product in the webshop basket for ordering.
While in Scania’s online configurator, customers can configure their vehicle according to the features and options they want, or by defining their usage requirements, (we call this needs-based configuration. It takes guided selling to the next level). Once happy, the customer can share their configuration with a dealer to get a quote. You can take Scania’s configurator for a test drive yourself.
Not all product configurator software solutions are created equal
Whether you allow your customers to perform a high-level visualization, or create detailed configurations that end in a request for a quotation, is entirely up to you. You’re in complete control.
Regardless of your strategy, the configuration tool you select must be able to grasp the complexities of your products and match that to the customer’s exact business needs. How will the product be used? What are the most important criteria for the customer?
Not all CPQ solutions are able to handle the level of product complexity that many manufacturers face. And even fewer offer an approach that’s entirely focused on the customer. These are both essential requirements.
Making your product configurator available online to your customers is a major opportunity. It not only boosts your lead generation capabilities quickly and cost-efficiently, but it also enables you to offer a buying experience that will delight customers, build loyalty and fuel growth.
So if you’re not already considering it, I encourage you to look into what an online intelligent product configurator would mean to your business and your pipeline.
Interested in learning more? See our Tacton for salesforce.com appexchange CPQ page.