“Cloud” has long ceased being a buzzword and should simply be modus operandi for 21st century sales practices.
The key words there, of course, are “should simply be,” because there are more than a few sales people out there doing things the old school way. Instead of using CPQ solutions to automate product/pricing configurations, they have Excel installed on a laptop; instead of CRM platforms like Dynamics, Salesforce, or Zoho, they’re keeping track of progress in Outlook or (gasp!) notebooks.
But let’s not digress by stressing over the Willy Lomans of the world. They’ll figure it out, or they won’t — and in the latter case, new school salespeople will be there to better serve (i.e., steal) the old-schoolers’ customers.
Let’s instead talk about how configure, price, quote platforms are best used in the cloud. Yes, they can be used as standalone software, with reps creating, sending, tracking and closing quotes from anywhere. Where things really start to sizzle, however, is when we look at how @@CPQ solutions make connections between CRM/ERP solutions and customers.@@
CPQ ❤️ CRM & ERP
First-off, let’s see what happens when CPQ is fully integrated with other cloud-based platforms, such as your CRM and ERP systems.
CPQ adds necessary functionality to these platforms: the ability to centralize products & pricing, the ability to “templatize” the sales proposal itself, the ability to optimize selling overall (by ensuring each rep is always using the latest/greatest pitch/proposal/pricing).
In the case of IQX, this functionality is added via a single sign-on to some leading CRMs, such as Dynamics and Zoho, with an API for most any other.
An additional business benefit is in what we’ll call “proposal metrics.” CPQ solutions give you visibility into the most critical part of your pipeline, from “quote sent” to “quote closed.” As CRM systems are often an enterprise’s primary forecasting tool, integrating a tool like CPQ that allows deeper, more actionable insights on what it takes to close a quote is simply invaluable.
However, we think the greatest value CPQ delivers is that it creates connections between your internal systems and the outside world.
Connecting systems and people
Typically, for customers, prospects, and leads in CRM and ERP systems, it’s a one way street: you view their progress from unknown to known, from exploratory phone call to demo, from demo to sales quote. The customer has little or no idea how your systems run — and why would they?
But the second you send a quote, you essentially invite them in, and turn a one-way street into a two-way street. Every quote you send a customer is in fact a look at how well (or how poorly) your internal systems run.
Is the pricing accurate? Do the proposal templates reflect your brand? Are customer inquiries being responded to precisely and immediately?
Your configure, price, quote platform is where and when customers are truly connected to your internal systems as it is, in many cases, the first time they view and manage its output (the quote). Additionally, CPQ solutions can automatically upload customer input as well: their replies, their signed quotes, etc.
So while your sales team should be new school and versed in using cloud-based platforms, your customers can be as old-school as they want to be — because your CPQ solution will make all the right connections.
If you'd like to learn more about this topic or see IQX for yourself with a free demo, contact us.