If you are in a business that sells configurable products, you face a trade-off. On the one hand, you can offer a large number of product options to make it easier for your customers to find exactly what they are looking for, which should increase sales. On the other hand, the more options you offer, the more complex it is for you to manage your sales process – let alone accurately and efficiently manage logistics, inventory, manufacturing, and delivery. Getting to a final price quote while the customer selects all their various options can be a time-consuming and error-prone experience, and it is important to have solutions that truly work for your business.
For example, let’s say your company builds trucks used to transport goods over long distances. You might offer many different areas of customization – number of axles, exterior color, number of mirrors, cabin configuration, sleeper solutions, trim finish, driver seat fabric, and so on – with many different options within each of those areas. So, it seems like a truck manufacturing company like that faces a trade-off between the number of options it offers, and the costs and complexity associated with an increasing number of possible product configurations.
But not so fast.
It’s in fact possible to use Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) and document automation software to sidestep that trade-off. With the right solutions, you are free to offer a large number of options – a nearly unlimited complexity of configurations – but also avoid the sales process friction that might otherwise come with them.
In many ways, that’s the core promise of the digital transformation that is remaking the entire business world: simplifying the complex processes and operations that define modern sales and operations by using digital solutions. The organizations leading the charge will find ways to turn manual, labor-intensive, error-filled, and routine tasks into digital, automatic, simple, and consistent processes to make life better for everyone – employees, customers, and the business.
Let’s see how CPQ and document automation software can work for your company’s digital transformation.
From Easy Configuration to Accurate Pricing and Instant Quoting
A CPQ solution works behind the scenes to make your sales process more efficient, from product configuration and pricing to quote delivery. Here’s how.
Imagine an automated system that contains every possible variable and option for every truck you are selling. Every single variation of every part of these trucks is accounted for, along with associated pricing. When your customer tells you what particular options they want, the CPQ software configures the customized product and ensures, via guided selling functions, the selections are available for that model, the items are in stock, and that compliance or regulatory rules are met. That’s what the configuration component of a CPQ solution does.
Once the customer has configured the truck to their specifications, the system looks up the cost of each selection to get the accurate price. Sometimes the prices of each option will be independent of each other. That is, the price of one choice doesn’t depend on any of the other choices. Those situations are relatively simple to handle. You might even be able to do them by hand (with a little time).
But what if the options are dependent on each other? For instance, if a customer selects a certain size of truck cab that changes the prices of certain configurations within the cab. Because these kinds of situations introduce an exponential increase in the order’s complexity, they are hard for humans to work through by hand or in a traditional spreadsheet. Pricing processes that require a lot of manual input face a few drawbacks when it comes to managing complex dependencies. One of the biggest is the time it takes for sales teams to show prospects the final pricing of a customized product and complete quotes with accurate, up-to-date information. By contrast, CPQ software can make those calculations almost instantaneously and without errors, based on pre-configured rules and formulas.
Of course, the final price of the truck is not all that goes into the quote. By being clear about the costs every step along the way, you can negotiate prices with customers and quote your products on a clear and rational basis. A CPQ solution can even control maximum discounts on certain selections and provide opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling within the quote. You need to make money on the deal and CPQ software offers capabilities that help you do just that.
That’s how a Configure, Price, Quote system works. It makes your sales process faster, easier, and more accurate. And then document automation comes into play, giving you the ultimate competitive edge.
Automated Contracts to Close Deals Now
As every salesperson knows, a deal is not done until a contract is signed. Here too, document automation software contributes to your digital transformation by eliminating manual tasks and bringing the benefits of automated processes. Document automation allows you to create, generate, manage, deliver, and e-sign personalized and accurate business documents – contracts, quotes, proposals, invoices, and more – through pre-configured, automated flows. As a result, you can deliver tailored documents with the click of a button and close deals faster. Here’s how it works.
Document automation software takes the information from the CPQ and creates a contract including all relevant information already inputted – customer information, truck options, item descriptions and images, pricing, etc. You won’t have to worry about making costly errors by re-entering data for your various business units (supply chain, manufacturing, delivery), or slowing down your sales process by taking time to draw up the contract. The contract creation process is entirely automated, so you can send a completed contract to your customer within moments of agreeing on a quote. This reduces the chance that your customer gets cold feet or finds a different offer from a competitor.
Document automation increases your sales velocity, allowing you to secure revenue sooner and move on to new deals faster.
From Choices to Decisions, Faster
At the core, the combination of CPQ and document automation solutions has one goal in mind: help you move customers from choices to decisions as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Revisiting the truck example, it would work this way. You guide the customer through all the options of the truck that they’d like to buy. The CPQ system configures the trucks, pulls accurate pricing, and generates the quote automatically. Then you and the customer negotiate the price, possible discounts, and other parts of the deal. Once you agree on terms, the document automation solution generates and sends your customer a personalized contract – before you’re even off the phone. This empowers your salespersons to close deals almost instantly, while elevating the customer experience.
The digital transformation within sales and operations is not simply for automatic processes to replace human beings. Rather, it is to find the parts of your workflows that ought to be offloaded to digital systems, empower your teams to do more with technology and be competitive in today’s market. Digital, automated systems allow you to concentrate on the parts of your job that only you can do – and that you can do better than any software. By digitally transforming your sales process, you sidestep the trade-off between the costs and benefits of complexity – unlocking more value for you and your customers.