As a business-to-business seller, implementing a more consumerized experience into your buying cycle can help improve self-service and product transparency, and empower your sales team to take on a more consultative rather than transactional role.
Ultimately, it’s about making an otherwise complicated sales process more efficient for the buyer, in which richer information about your product is available earlier in the buying cycle so they have the requisite information needed for the decision stage.
When quoting a price manually, it’s easy to make mistakes or provide misinformation, whether it’s an unavailable configuration, an unapproved discount, or some other promise that you won’t be able to deliver on once the initial picture comes into frame.
One of the emerging trends designed to mitigate this challenge, especially in the B2B space, is the Configure Price Quote (CPQ) model – a sales tool that enables a B2B seller to quickly provide a cost estimate based on a set of rules according to a prospect’s specific needs.
As demand for heightened customization runs rampant among B2B buyers – compounded with volume-based discounts, add-ons and additional features, as well as other requests specific to the user – it’s more important than ever to offer a formalized, upfront quote not only quickly, but accurately.
Here are a few of the benefits:
Shortens the B2B Sales Cycle
Regardless of the complexity of your prospect’s business, we live in a real-time world, and when a prospect shows a certain level of interest in your product or service, they want a price quote immediately. If you can’t deliver, one of your competitors likely will.
The danger in doing so manually is delivering a quote based on projections, not hard data, and providing an expectation that you can’t necessarily deliver on in the long run.
CPQ delivers an accurate, upfront and immediate quote based on a series of rules that can provide the necessary information to help your prospect make a buying decision. And you can feel confident that it’s something you can follow through on as the sales relationship progresses.
In fact, research shows that CPQ software can shorten the sales cycle by a third, from 4.68 months to 3.42 months, on average.
Adaptability and Customization, Increased Productivity
Considering the more traditional quote model, imagine your team receives all the necessary information from a prospect to develop and provide a quote. Then, the prospect says that one of their variables has changed – quantity, configuration, what they’re willing to invest, etc.
In this scenario, your team will have to revisit the quote, which may very well entail starting from scratch, given how the variables within the quote will likely impact all the others. This requires man hours, extra effort that could effectively be applied elsewhere, and the risk of human error or providing incorrect information based on assumption.
The CPQ model works with – as opposed to against – product customization, and can adapt as necessary when the prospect’s needs change. This supports money saved, a smaller time commitment, and provides accurate, updated quotes as needed on a faster timeline.
Selling more is better than selling less. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. In a more traditional, complicated sales model, the back-end effort to estimate a quote, keep the prospect educated and maintain the relationship often takes so much time, that trying to upsell to a higher-value deal is fairly low on the priority list. You’re happy to close the sale you have.
The CPQ model supports a more nimble approach, however, where the quote process is largely automated, so much so that it’s far easier to continue to show the value of the product in a tighter feedback loop, with different combinations and configurations of pricing and cost variables. The quicker process in this regard increases the likelihood of leveraging your prospect’s interest to close a higher-volume and higher-value deal.
Multi-department Collaboration, Standardization
It’s a constant challenge for your sales team to stay abreast of all updates and practices within other departments of your company. And unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s needed to provide the most accurate education around a product offer.
One of the benefits of CPQ is that it enables other parts of your organization – including sales and marketing, IT, designers and developers, etc. – to be an integral part of the development of the quote process upfront, so the sales rep can focus on the prospect relationship and less on managing the configuration.
In fact, Axonom estimates that more than 70 percent of a sales rep’s time is spent on administrative tasks, while 61 percent of employees overall access four or more disparate systems to identify the information they need.
The CPQ model allows cross-collaboration across your enterprise, allowing you to streamline processes and create a much more communicative experience for the employee team, and a more value-based, tailored experience to prospects and clients.
As the ecommerce market becomes increasingly competitive, meeting your customer where they are – and not where you are – is the key to success in terms of retaining businesses and continuing your company’s growth.
According to Gartner, sales representatives spend less than 45 percent of their time selling, and in some cases less than 10 percent maintaining active relationships with their prospects and customers. The rest is often allocated to grunt work, administrative tasks, travel, etc.
Identifying your prospect’s needs, and configuring a quote quickly and efficiently leveraging the CPQ model can help your business grow sales by 10 percent over your current year-over-year growth, according to Gartner.
Tailoring the buying process to customer preference should be one of the key tactics that your sales team uses to close new business, and implementing the CPQ model can be a vital part of your company’s success.
For more on streamlining your B2B business, visit some previous posts:
- 7 Key Differences Between B2C and B2B Ecommerce Models
- Bring Consumerization to the B2B Buying Experience
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Kyle Shamorian is the content marketer for cleverbridge. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.