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  • CPQ
    January 5, 2016

Why CPQ? Why Me?

Welcome to the first of our five-blog journey focusing on the fast-growing niche of Configure / Price / Quote deployments. My job here is to leverage Aberdeen's objective research findings to detail when, where, and how CPQ is most effectively used to reduce friction in the sales cycle. Your responsibility is to learn, not so much from me, but from your peers, contemporaries, and competitors, whether your sales engine is running in top gear or not.

The first order of business is to validate this topic before proceeding any further. Many end-users consume our Sales Effectiveness market research and ask, “Is this or that technology a nice-to-have, or a must-have? ”The answer depends entirely on the imperatives of each individual business, and the marching orders Sales Operations receives from management that guide its sales enablement strategies. Aberdeen's newest research on the topic, soon to be published in “Got Friction? Workflow Fixes that Shorten the B2B Sales Cycle,” weighs in on the side of “must-have” when it comes to any technology enabler that is proven to remove barriers from closing B2B sales deals. For proof positive, check out the data in Figure 1:

Figure 1: Year-over-Year Performance Metrics Favor CPQ Deployments

Source: Aberdeen Group, July 2014

Here, we look at annualized changes in the kind of KPI's that matter not only to Sales leadership, but other line-of-business executives in your enterprise and the C-Suite as well. This brings us to the second point we need to clarify as we begin our blog-based journey of discovery together: who benefits from a well-oiled CPQ deployment? Think about the metrics in Figure 1 to understand the true reach provided by this workflow automation enabler:

  • Sellers obviously spend less time on administrative tasks (and more energy on sourcing and closing deals) when fewer proposal errors stand in their way, and fewer iterations of a contract pass through their inbox. There are additional stakeholders who also benefit from how CPQ streamlines the proposal development process: sales engineers are called away from high-value demos and implementations less frequently; those pesky legal and procurement folks act less like Managers of Sales Prevention; and the operations team that delivers our goods and services has a clearer line of sight into what they'll actually need to provide to the customer once the deal is done. So now we can ask: Is 158% better improvement in quality control a nice-to-have, or an essential result?
  • Anyone considering customer retention an optional priority is likely to be successful…if they can time-warp back to the 20th century. Common sense dictates that keeping current customers happy is far more economical than chasing down new accounts, and Aberdeen research on customer experience management, high-performing CRM deployments, and social business makes it crystal-clear in case you're looking for data to validate the point. In an era when one tweet can bring down a global brand, the customer is everything. Even if your enterprise divides sales and service functions—and this is doubtful considering how integrated the groups are even at the bastion of traditional sales, the local automotive dealership—the other line-of-business leaders in your organization want and need your sales team to bring in and establish long-term customer relationships. CPQ provides a standardization of content and reduction of friction in the contracting process, both of which make the customer's life that much easier. And that's what it's all about in this millennium.
  • Along with selling and servicing accounts more effectively, CPQ users improve their lead conversion effectiveness from year-to-year, while non-adopters see the rate drop. If the marketing / sales alignment in your organization is important to you—and the research suggests you're making a big mistake if it's not—working smarter rather than harder on the customer acquisition process is an important goal for you…and for your bosses. Spending less marketing budget and closing more deals? Priceless.

Even more importantly, in all of these scenarios the customer scores a win as well. They never see the inner workings of your CPQ platform, but they sure do appreciate the results, shown in a mirror image of the points made above about your own company's benefits and your many internal stakeholders whose lives get that much easier when the workflow is smoothed out. Fewer embarrassing errors on outward-facing proposal and quote content creates confidence they are buying from a professional organization. Less customer churn means fewer reasons to motivate a painful search for a new provider. They even accrue benefits from a more effective marketing function that yields better revenue results from their messaging, in that fewer annoying up-sell or cross-sell campaigns will clog their inbox.

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for the remaining blog posts in this series: We'll discuss the nuts and bolts of CPQ deployments in Configure, Price, Quote: Behind the Curtain, Ahead of the Curve; different business use cases in CPQ Everywhere: How Direct, Channel, Enterprise, and Middlers Seal the Deal; how sellers, executives, and customers benefit in Four Lessons from Junior Soccer: Can Everyone Actually Be a Winner?; and best practices of top-performing CPQ users in CPQ Technology + Best-in-Class Processes = Sales Superiority.

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