Dynamics 365 Business Central offers businesses increasingly flexible ways to manage their day-to-day operations. Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software expands on that flexibility, boosting operational efficiency for sales while reducing friction between sales and production teams. Experlogix product manager Jim Meyer and Microsoft MVP Rick McCutcheon sat down recently to discuss why implementing a CPQ should be viewed as an investment in your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central solution rather than a cost.
In Pursuit of Efficiency
Experlogix helps major global brands like CAT, Lexmark, and Toyota deploy Dynamics 365 solutions that boost sales performance. The company works closely with Microsoft and its partner channel to emphasize the need for measurable ROI. According to Meyer, CPQ software’s value comes from reducing the time spent creating orders and quotes, cutting time to market for products, reducing requoting, accelerating the sales cycle, and helping companies to leverage efficiency gains to generate more sales leads.
We’ve had the opportunity to work with customers across the board [at Experlogix]. The ROI of an ERP implementation is one of the biggest things to measure when doing an implementation. You want to know where you’re starting from, because how are you going to ever be able to know where you’ve gotten to if you don’t know where you [were previously], so this first step of gathering metrics [matters]. And coming up with those metrics is really the foundation for establishing that ROI.
The rise of lean manufacturing has helped to raise awareness about data-driven efficiency improvements. In manufacturing, organizations can use data from CPQ solutions to optimize inventory, improve predictability, and provide forecasting.
The Value of Speed
Meyer identified speed—the need to code and sell quickly—as the first of several ways to unlock ERP ROI with CPQ.
What we’ve found is the coding process is quite lengthy. [A project] could go from the sales rep going out and getting the requirements, and then talking to engineering, or talking to their sales manager and so forth. There is a lot of information that needs to be gathered first before the quote, and customers want to automate it all, as much as possible, because you only want people in the process where they add value.
Experlogix sometimes encounters clients with nuanced “tribal” knowledge of systems and configurations. When those insights are translated to CPQ, they can reduce the quoting process to “moments” with automation, quoting quickly and accurately in a way that provided a competitive edge.
Accuracy and speed go hand-in-hand, according to Meyer. He explained:
When you implement a CPQ solution, the goal is that it’s a production-ready quote and that it is accurate… There’s a lot that goes into getting all of the pricing, and making sure that you have the volume discounts and so forth. So, not only does the product itself have to be accurately quoted, but also the pricing that goes along with it.
When production-ready quotes can be generated accurately, it prevents a lot of rework that would otherwise go into the process. This not only helps to avoid customer frustration, it ensures speed because customers no longer need to wait for orders to be corrected.
In addition to speeding up information gathering, CPQ opens the way for businesses to build services on top of products. Applying qualitative knowledge on top of data results in greater consistency, which plays out as a more consistent sales process.
You essentially train everybody on your CPQ solution. All of a sudden, the way you administer and present the experience becomes much more consistent.
Meyer demonstrated CPQ in action. Starting in a sales order, rather than a quote, the Experlogix CPQ system presented him with two different options: Configure and Help Me Choose. The demo included options to customize commercial trucks, with ways to link to brochures, run an interactive tour for sales reps to remind of key features, and choices for torque, transmission, and engine type.
Empower More Sellers in the Organization
Many companies are also starting to see their most seasoned salespeople retire. Overstretched sales teams that remain need sales solutions with guardrails built in so that they can operate efficiently, without allocating as much time to lengthy training meetings. The benefits extend beyond sales, too. By leveraging CPQ, Meyer explained Experlogix has found that customer service teams often use the software to do renewal and contract quoting. In other cases, customers can undertake quoting independently through a portal, and field service people can rapidly quote in the field.
With the CPQ setup, the software can toggle what is displayed to different users. For some roles, pricing might be hidden, while it is exposed for a sales director or managing vice president. CPQ capabilities can surface gross profit and margin, identify a commission, and direct information into Dynamics 365 Business Central when an order is saved and closed.
“I can create a bill of materials on the fly and I can write directly to those Business Central tables,” Meyer explained. “As we went through this, some of the key things came up as messages to give us guardrails. You can go across multiple different products, and you’re building right here, so it’s production ready. Accuracy, guided selling, and [other components are all part of that process].”