One of the challenges when it comes to configuration is to understand what you could do, what you can do and what you should do.
Let’s break that down a little.
Whenever there is a salesforce there will be innovative ideas on what could be done to create new business. This is a very important process and should be respected as such – but it doesn’t have anything to do with sales configuration. There should be other processes in place to catch and refine these great ideas that originate from the challenges that your customers are facing. But these ideas shouldn’t be restricted by logic.
When we set up the high level logic for a sales configurator we usually sit down with various product experts. They have a very good understanding of what can be done. Given the restrictions of the product portfolio we define the logic describing what and how the product can eventually be produced and assembled.
The third question is what should be done. This is a challenging question since many companies that sell complex products have an imprecise understanding of what really creates profitable business. It requires both an internal understanding of the product offering, but also an awareness of what the competition offers.
When it comes to sales configuration, less can often be more
The difference between a good and a superior sales configuration lies in the balance between can and should.
This is a challenge in every workshop and the question I tend to come back to is “Is this relevant for sales”. Because if the sales tool has a strict focus on what you can do it will be more complicated to understand than it should be.
This mean that an interface with 10 high-level questions is better than one with 100 detailed questions. This might seem obvious, but reducing the front-end complexity and asking only the necessary questions proves to be very difficult in almost all sales configuration projects. I see this as one of my primary goals in every workshop. Because if we focus on what should be done, we can let the configurator engine handle the complexities of what can be done.
The transition from can to should calls for a very rare skill. It requires courage.