September 11 by Michael Dunne
For those of us here who aren’t in sales, you might be thinking, “Why do we need configuration? Isn’t it the reps’ job to remember the products?!”
Well, yes. But it’s not always easy, and if you haven’t been in Sales before, you may not appreciate just how difficult it is to sell across a complex set of products and features. So let’s take a real-world example of configuration that will make this idea a little bit more tangible.
If you’re lucky enough to be shopping for an Aston Martin…
…you have the opportunity to configure your own car – you choose the colors, one of 4 wheel options, 4 brake options – and in 5 seconds or less, your car is configured, and you’re driving away with a perfectly customized Aston Martin. Seems easy enough, and, in reality, if this is the level of configuration your reps need to do, and there are no dependencies or limitations, you might be fine using Excel spreadsheets to configure your deals. But for most of us, this kind of product simplicity is about as likely as owning an Aston Martin.
In the real world, you have to deal with dependencies and restrictions, often lots of them. For example, if someone orders lightweight seats, they may be not be able to get heated seats. Or, the auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror may be available only in some markets. And rules change all the time as market demand and product lifecycles change. For instance, you may want Sales to intelligently promote new options, like an option to upgrade the alarm, to generate additional incremental revenues from customers.
These are pretty basic examples, but there’s much complexity to manage if you want to create optimal deals for the company. This is especially the case with high value products and services in manufacturing, life sciences, communications, technology, finance and a variety of other industries.
When you’re managing your product, pricing, bundling, and channel rules with automated configuration software, your sales teams and partners don’t have to concern themselves with the underlying complexity of your products and business processes, or the frequency of changes, because the business rules automatically guide every task involved with producing proposals or quotes.
At the same time, line management can easily review and control pricing and discounts, with automated alerts, notifications and analytics, and then ensure reps recommend the right products. With rules and automation in place, not only do you reduce errors, but much manual work is eliminated, like data entry, as well as time spent on approvals. Meanwhile your team’s quotes will be close to perfect when they’re submitted. This means that your sales reps don’t have to have a photographic memory to be effective.
To learn more about the advantages of configuration, please listen to my presentation for the free virtual Sales Summit available on Demand: http://goo.gl/Mz1Yy7
For all things CPQ and Quote-to-Cash, be sure to download the Ultimate Guide Series, available now.