There’s no pressing pause on technology’s progress.
So your sales process should only be going in one direction: faster, more personalized and more digitized. (Ok, make that three directions.)
You need systems that help your people deliver the latest sales experience – both today and as expectations inevitably evolve in the future.
This means no one can afford to waste time or money investing in a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution with features that age before you’ve even pencilled in the go-live date.
You need a sales system that will set you up for years.
This blog will help you find just that.
Here’s 8 key pieces of functionality any future-proof CPQ provider should have on its features list (or at the very least its roadmap).
1. Integration to a wider architecture
CPQ is a proven way to boost your sales, and a powerful tool in its own right.
But the need to go beyond the initial sale and give customers an exceptional ongoing experience – for the entirety of your relationship – can’t be done with CPQ alone.
Because CPQ actually comes into its own as part of a wider integrated modular architecture. You get the full benefits of the solution when it’s working in concert with functionality like Product Catalog, Order Management, Contract Lifecycle Management and Digital Commerce.
So it’s important to find a vendor that can give you this modular platform, while also providing reliable and robust integrations across its architecture. This naturally includes the ability to integrate with your current or preferred CRM and ERP.
Checking a CPQ solution’s current integrations and APIs is usually a quick way to whittle down your shortlist.
2. Subscription sales ready
The form of the sale itself is shifting.
More and more industries are moving towards an ongoing services model – or selling outcomes, not products.
But some CPQ solutions aren’t set up to handle the intricacies of an evolving sale or a subscriptions model, particularly for complex industries.
A CPQ vendor should be able to offer simple subscription must-haves, including:
If not, they’re probably not equipped to meet your business’ needs – today or in the future.
Your customers and partners expect the option to self-serve.
Across industries, 81% of customers try to take care of things themselves before reaching out to a live representative.
But an Amazon-like B2B self-service function doesn’t just level-up your customer experience – it relieves pressure from other areas of your customer support teams.
Self-service is often reliant on exposing your CPQ functionality to external users. So if your CPQ isn’t up to scratch, self-service becomes a less simple proposition.
You also need to consider a solution’s integrations with Digital Commerce, ability to sell across channels and performance for high-volume or high-complexity business sales.
4. Rapid bundling
Your technical products don’t differentiate your business. Not for long anyway.
Sure, an innovative product may give you the edge for a short period. But a competitor will soon develop something similar.
So how can you offer something original to your customers? And how can you offer this value quickly?
Being able to create, launch and bundle your products is a great starting point.
The ability to bundle new offerings in minutes, not months, gives your product and marketing teams a competitive edge. It gives your business the chance to bring new concepts and offerings to market. To innovate commercially and still deliver on your promise to your customers.
But not every CPQ has the functionality to give you this shortcut to commercial freedom, so be sure to see bundling in action before you commit to a solution.
5. Smart technology
The leading vendors are using smart tech to power the next generation of CPQ solutions.
So what kind of technology should you expect to see in a CPQ today?
The addition of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, predictive analytics and next best action adds a perceptive layer to either automate actions, or guide your people.
Moving forward, the importance of these features is only rising. Both to help you optimize revenues through the likes of cross and up-sells – and to provide the one-to-one personalized experiences customers expect.
If a CPQ provider isn’t already using some of this technology – or at least featuring it prominently on their roadmap – it’s worth questioning if they have the vision to take your sales forward.
6. Slick user experience (including mobile)
A friction-free customer experience is key, but the user experience of your CPQ is also vital.
Low adoption rates, bad feedback and poor performance can kill the rollout of any new technology.
If your people can’t use your CPQ solution, or struggle to pick it up, your project could fail before it even gets off the ground.
On the other hand, if users can switch imperceptibly between your CRM and CPQ you’ll get a lot more out of the solution. Not only will user adoption be high and performance at its peak, but training your people will be easier across your platforms.
This slick UX needs to also work seamlessly on mobile. With a poor mobile UX you’re leaving your field sales ill-equipped and your business exposed to higher-performing competitors.
We’ve mentioned self-service, mobile and eCommerce.
Your CPQ needs to cater to the modern buyer journey which naturally jumps across channels and is rarely continuous.
98% of Americans switch between devices during the same day, while 90% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels.
This means a future-proof CPQ has to be available through any channel, including self-serve and offline mobile.
And, with customers liable to abandon orders and come back on whichever channel’s convenient, a CPQ also needs to be equipped to pick up the same journey, regardless of channel or device.
8. People & partnership
You can have the best tech in the world, but if your vendor doesn’t help your business get the most from it, it’s wasted.
Finding a truly future-proof CPQ application will rely just as much on the partnership you build with your vendor as the solution itself.
Gartner found services expertise as the clearest indicator of satisfaction when picking a CPQ vendor.
So do your due diligence. Find a vendor that has proven tech, results with businesses like yours, and, last but not least, a team you’re confident you can form an honest and productive partnership with.
Confident you’ve already found the right CPQ provider? Check out our 7 tips for a successful CPQ implementation here.