Monday Feb 08, 2016

Oracle Cloud - A Truly Modern Cloud

Modern Cloud – London

The Oracle Modern Cloud Conference took place in London on the 2-3 February and was a showcase of Oracle Cloud capability covering ERP, HCM, CX and IT. With Oracle keynotes from Thomas Kurian and Shawn Price and further keynotes from Sir Dave Brailsford of British Cycling and TeamSky, and Rebecca Galambos of The Prince’s Trust, a charity set up by HRH Prince Charles, which helps young people aged 13 to 30 get into jobs, education and training. Brailsford, a sport’s psychologist, gave a totally inspiring speech covering motivation, culture, winning and overcoming your inner chimp*! A few memorable quotes:

"What comes first winning or culture? I like winning first."

“You have to fight your inner chimp.”

"You have to believe! If you don't believe you'll never achieve."

In the Oracle Sales Cloud section we had a fantastic presentation by Gartner VP and Analyst Tiffany Bova who talked about the changing customer, trust and behaviour.

Memorable quotes from Tiffany Bova:

"68% of the material your buyers use to make decisions is NOT coming from you!"

"Customer trust is based on experience, prospect trust is based on third parties”

Finally, we had four great presentations that took us on a journey through a classic sales cycle from organisational design to closing deals. In particular, presentations by Panasonic and Vodafone showed how they are driving commercial benefits from Oracle Cloud Solutions:

The breadth of cloud capability being delivered by Oracle in incredible. They have implemented Oracle....Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud and CPQ Cloud, and still run Siebel for Field Service. They are seeing: 

"Lead to Opportunity times cut from 2 days to less than 1 hour"

"Self service reporting in real time"

"Upgrade resource time cut from 120 days to 12 days moving from on-premise to cloud".

The sheer scale of benefit delivered through there ultra-rapid deployment of Oracle CPQ Cloud.

40% of quotes now approved by sales rep or manager

50% reduction in Sales Cycle time

“The targeted win ratio increase more than doubled”.

For more examples of benefit being gained through Oracle's Truly Modern Cloud, please join our global cloud community for customer panels, best practices, thought leadership, and hands-on training at the Modern Sales Experience in Las Vegas April 26-28.

 * The "inner chimp" is based on work by Steve Peters, an English psychiatrist, who works in elite sport. For more information on this subject please refer to Steve's work. 

Oracle CPQ Cloud: The Personalization Engine by Baylee Miller

When making a purchasing decision, customers need to feel confident that what they’re buying is going to meet their specific needs. A proven way for a company to build that confidence is by providing a personal sales experience. The problem with this is that it takes time to tailor solutions to each customer. That’s why the products on the shelf are often cheaper than the tailored solutions; the seller passes the cost of customization on to the customer. But if companies can deliver the custom experience of a tailored solution with the efficiency of a standard solution, they stand to differentiate themselves from their competitors. 

Enter ERP. Companies figured out that they can standardize certain aspects of their process that are invisible to the customer to reduce costs and the customer will never know they weren’t getting a fully tailored package.  In fact, they’re impressed that the products are delivered so quickly! Making the back-end more efficient worked out so well that innovators started thinking about what else they could do to improve efficiency of operations, and the focus turned to sales. Originally referred to as Sales Force Automation tools, CRM systems took on making the sales process more efficient. They drove sales reps to contact the right prospects at the right times, which vastly improved their win rates. The key here was that customers had no idea that the personal attention they were getting had been triggered by a system that spat their name out based on an algorithm. In fact, to the customer it just looked like an effective sales rep had learned to anticipate the customer’s needs—they always seemed to call when they were needed most! With CRM & ERP in place, the company and the customer were both positioned to walk away happy.  

As CRM and ERP grew to be more and more ubiquitous, their scope and set of functions continued to expand. At a certain point there were no more functions left to optimize that were disconnected from the customer; there was only the building of the quote package. CRM and ERP tools developed standard capabilities for sales reps to configure product sets, price their products quote-by-quote, and generate a document summarizing the products and prices. Those who implemented these tools did gain efficiency in quote preparation, but many quickly learned that their customers didn’t appreciate the lack of personalization and deals were lost. Other companies built custom tools, which gave them the efficiency they were looking for without sacrificing the custom look of their presentation. However their problems arose years later when those custom tools were decrepit and out-of-date. They had been built as snapshots of the personalization experience at that moment; they couldn’t accommodate the inevitable changes to the business. What companies needed was the ability to build all the quote package’s tailored content in an efficient way, and it needed to be backed by a system that can adapt along with their business. They needed a personalization engine.  

BigMachines, the SaaS product that became Oracle CPQ Cloud, was created to be exactly that personalization engine. Instead of building a tool for configuring products that would be used by all CPQ customers, a framework for building configurable interfaces was developed. This framework is the engine at the center of each unique product configuration tool for each CPQ customer. Since each product-tailoring interface is fully specific to the products being sold, the resulting product packages can deliver the same level of personalization that could be reached manually. The same is true when it comes time to set prices for those products; Oracle CPQ Cloud provides tools to build a pricing system rather than the pricing system itself, which allows each CPQ implementation to generate prices precisely as the sales rep and customer expect them. (Note: Oracle CPQ Cloud does include a suite of calculations common to most customers, but this is simply a starting configuration of the framework rather than core functionality that must be overridden.) 

The crux of the personalization experience comes when it’s time to present the products, prices, and marketing collateral to the customer in a targeted quote package. If the quote appears to not speak directly to them and reflect the interactions they’ve had with the sales rep, the personalization effort has been wasted. Oracle CPQ Cloud’s document generation capabilities allow each CPQ customer to set up a document that can be personalized not only in content but also in organization and presentation. This controlled flexibility drives sales reps to efficiently generate consistent, high-quality, targeted quote packages.  And that concept of controlled flexibility is exactly what makes Oracle CPQ Cloud such an effective personalization engine.

Wednesday Oct 07, 2015

Oracle CPQ Cloud Helps Businesses Leverage Differentiators

In order to compete in the worldwide economy, businesses use unique product innovation, marketing strategies, and sales processes – called differentiators – to win orders. While businesses understand the importance of their differentiators, they often find it challenging to target potential customers with a personalized message. CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) is a technology that incorporates differentiators in product, pricing, and marketing strategy to allow companies to create quotes with personalized messages and targeted value. Through sending personalized messages to its target audiences, CPQ helps businesses win more orders.

Take, for example, a fictional custom machinery manufacturer, TechMech. TechMech fully customizes their products to meet specific and complex requirements that differ from deal to deal. Each custom order is approved by an engineer, who determines if the order is physically feasible. The TechMech product customization process is different from their competitors; some competitors offer standard packages at lower prices, while others have assembled options with limited customization. To showcase their differentiators, TechMech needs a CPQ solution that restricts salespeople from not only creating machinery that is physically impossible to manufacture, but also clearly communicates the product’s differentiators to its target audience through its quotes.

Take another fictional company, Precious Metals, Inc. Precious Metals, Inc. sells large amounts of gold and silver. Precious Metals differentiates itself from competitors by constantly updating prices in order to match trading price levels on the stock market. To accommodate this differentiator, Precious Metals, Inc. not only needs a CPQ system that has a flexible, yet precise, pricing system to accommodate their policies, but one that also provides context for these policies to its target audience through its quotes.

CPQ technology is able to deliver a personalized message to customers because CPQ houses many of these differentiators. The Configuration (the “C” within “CPQ” ) and Pricing (the “P”) components of CPQ help add clarity and context on product and pricing differentiators. Quote packages (the “Q”) then tailor specific marketing messages based on the customer’s solution and needs. Since CPQ automates this process, it allows for administrative oversight and rigor of the delivery mechanism. 

At Oracle, we know that CPQ delivers true value in helping our customers win more orders. With over 400 successful Oracle CPQ Cloud implementations, we have proved to consistently deliver the greatest return on investment in the industry. If you want your marketing messages to reflect what makes your business special, then Oracle CPQ Cloud is for you. 

Monday Aug 31, 2015

5 Ways to Measure the Success of your CPQ Project by Greg Swender

With any project, success will often be determined based on improvements to a set of operating metrics, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Standard Six Sigma techniques will tell you to choose your KPIs carefully early in the project and measure each of them before the project is implemented. These metrics will give your project team and executive sponsors a clear view of how the process is operating in its current state. They will also enable you to quantify any improvements you’ve made.

CPQ applications (short for 'Configure, Price, Quote') help sales organizations operate more efficiently. CPQ applications, when implemented correctly, can have a transformational impact on how individuals sell, and can dramatically change how sales teams or channel partners interact with both customers and their internal sales support teams. Given the profound impact a CPQ solution can have on a company’s sales organization, ROI for successful implementations can often be measured in weeks or months after go-live, rather than years.

Sounds easy, right?...

[Read More]

Monday Jul 06, 2015

In Sales or with Fitbit, You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure by Greg Swender

My wife bought me a Fitbit bracelet for my birthday.  My experience has been really positive so far. The iPhone app is easy to setup, and tracking meals, calories and exercise is simple.  The Fitbit has also shaped my behavior.  I have transitioned to baked chips for lunch, plain bagels with no cream cheese (most of the time), and “hold the mayo” on my sandwiches.  It has also pushed me to take the stairs more often and walk more frequently to hit my daily distance goal.  These are all good things.  On the other hand, tracking sleep habits has proven slightly challenging—only because the tapping motion to put the bit into “sleep mode” is awkward and honestly the routine really irritates my wife.  Picture this at bedtime: tap wrist repeatedly, but device fails to “sleep”… REPEAT (this time with harder/louder taps)… nope… REPEAT… you get the idea.

Nighttime tapping aside, this simple device and app show the amazing power of two things: metrics and user adoption.  

  • Metrics: The daily and weekly report in the app that make my eating habits and exercise very visible, along with any improvements or decline over time vs. my goals.  
  • User Adoption: Did I wear the device today?  Did I enter my meals today?  If either answer is no, I haven’t adopted the tool and there’s no hope it will help me.

[Read More]

Friday Jun 12, 2015

Collaborate Across Lines of Business by Virginia Lo

A well, laid out plan is set to fail if not executed correctly.  Imagine Joe, a sales rep who has done his due diligence to understand the customer’s business challenge, present the solution and successfully convince the customer that his solution is the one customer wants.  The customer asks for a quotation from the sales person.  But days and weeks go by and the customer still hasn’t received the quotation from Joe.  50% of sales are awarded to the person who gets the proposal to the customer first.  Why couldn’t the sales person respond faster? 

[Read More]

Thursday Jun 04, 2015

Be an Advisor, Not a Sales Person by Virginia Lo

In my previous blog post, I covered how to make more rain makers in your sales organization.  This is the second post in a three-part series addressing ways to achieve bigger, more profitable deals for your organization.  The second tactic we’ll cover is about how to train your reps to be an advisor, not a sales person.

[Read More]

Friday May 29, 2015

Make More Rainmakers by Virginia Lo

What keeps sales execs up at night?  For most, it’s whether they will hit their revenue targets.  With rising sales quotas and unavoidable cost cutting measures, sales leaders must find ways to sell more with less.   In the past, sales leaders could simply put more feet on the street to increase sales.  But today, they are expected to sell more with a leaner team, all while increasing the company’s profitability.  Let’s look at ways your sales teams can get bigger, higher margin deals.  To tackle today’s modern selling environment, there are three areas that will help your sales teams close more deals and blow out their numbers without increasing operational costs: make more rainmakers, be a trusted advisor, and collaborate across lines of business.  Today, we’ll uncover how to make more rainmakers in your sales organization.[Read More]

Thursday May 14, 2015

Improve Sales Effectiveness with Oracle Customer Experience Cloud: The Secret Sauce for Your Sales Team

In April 2015, a team of Oracle experts at the Oracle Modern Customer Experience Conferences in Las Vegas demonstrated how Oracle and customers can quickly and substantially improve sales effectiveness with Oracle Customer Experience applications. 

“Each year Oracle invests significantly to ensure its world-class customer experience (CX) applications integrate seamlessly with's customer relationship management (CRM) offerings in the cloud," says Oracle Vice President of Development Josh Gray. 

Specifically, Gray, along with Oracle sales consultants Craig Wright and Sarah Wright demonstrated how three Oracle offerings—Oracle Eloqua, Oracle BigMachines Express, and Oracle’s sales performance management solutions—can speed and simplify the complete sales process from lead generation to pricing and quoting to commissions to close. 

[Read More]

Friday May 01, 2015

Overcome User Adoption to Drive Sales

Driving Sales Systems

The use of technology to drive sales organisations has been a focus for many sales leaders over the past twenty years. In that time, software vendors have struggled to balance business complexity with speed of implementation and change. Sales leaders have struggled to balance user adoption with the burden of data entry. We have seen, as a result, large numbers of “CRM” projects fail to deliver the promise. What many companies have ended up with is a glorified address book, diary and list of opportunities.

So what can we do to address this?

A key inhibitor to successful technology use is user adoption. Most companies have spent time improving sales processes, driving sales performance, and increasing efficiency but they have not really tackled the issue of user adoption. Without good user adoption of sales systems the real value from them is merely a dream. Good user adoption drives the data upon which the remainder (marketing, analytics, workflow, decision-making, forecasting, win/loss, quoting, ordering etc) rely.

So is user adoption really that difficult?

You could argue that in the early days of Sales Force Automation (SFA) it probably was. In the early days of SFA there were no mobile devices, analytics was crude, and, at that stage having a single address book and diary was probably a major step forward for many sales organisations who still used paper based call reporting. In those early days many sales reps were simply not used to using technology to sell.

But we have moved on and today recording those things is simply commodity SFA. It is the nice bed in your hotel room. It is the three-year paint warranty on your car. We just take those things for granted. Solutions that allow you to simply record basic information are not delivering what a modern sales organisation needs.

What drives user adoption?

Well, I would suggest that the following elements drive user adoption in the SFA world:

· Simplicity

· Mobility

· Compliance & Gamification

· Good Sales Management

Simplicity: In order to compel a sales team to use technology it has to be simple, fast and easy to use. We all know that reps want to be out selling and not keying in information. Let’s give them the software help them do this. Let’s ensure they have access to all the information they need, when they need it, and ensure they feel that others are feeding the solution to make their life easier not the other way around.

Mobility: Today there is no reason to stop reps being almost entirely field based. From core SFA to quoting, pricing, contracting, forecasting, and communications; empower your reps to operate remotely, at speed and successfully.

Compliance & Gamification: Increasingly sales organisations are under pressure, both internally and externally, to comply with procedure and/or legislation. Compliance can be mandated through software solutions using workflow, procedure and gamification. Ensuring that a rep complies with lagging measures such as quota attainment, revenue and invoices paid is key to hitting your sales numbers. Do this using Sales Performance (SPM) tools. Ensuring your reps comply with softer leading measures such as forecasts, quote quality and discount management are key to your profitability and growth. Do this using Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) tools.

Good Sales Management: This is the hard part. Good sales management is key to the success of sales solutions. A manager that can explain, motivate and continually drive the use and benefits of the solution will ensure success. Back away from this and the sales reps will happily return to their ways of working.

If you are looking to improve your sales organisation then look for a software vendor that can help you drive the user adoption of your systems.  A vendor that can deliver the basic requirements (SFA1.0) but also the other key areas of Simplicity, Mobility, Compliance and GamificationThis will ensure your teams exhibit the behaviours you need to get the most from your SFA investment and hit your targets.  Those elements, aligned with your Good Sales Management will be the drivers to your sales success.


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