The Case for Embracing CPQ as a Marketing Solution
Configure Price Quote solutions — CPQ for short — are an increasingly important part of the sales technology stack for businesses that sell complex products through their own sales teams and/or third-party channels. But marketers shouldn’t dismiss CPQ as a “sales thing” — CPQ offers significant benefits to the forward-thinking marketing professionals who embrace it.
In its most basic form, CPQ automates the quote and proposal process, streamlining tasks that were once extremely labor-intensive and error-prone. But that’s just the beginning: A well-designed CPQ solution delivers pricing behavior intelligence to help users determine trends. It provides valuable insight on what products are selling, who is buying, when purchases are happening and at what price.
Gartner identifies CPQ as a c, predicting 20% annual growth through 2020, estimating a $570 million market in 2015 and $157 million in sales for cloud-based CPQ solutions. Gartner also notes that SaaS and cloud-based solutions drive the lion’s share of CPQ growth and facilitate rapid innovation. As with other technologies, CPQ’s popularity is prompting some vendors to add non-core features.
Marketers should be aware of the basic features of a good CPQ solution so they can align their operation more closely with sales and reap the benefits a well-designed CPQ system offers for the marketing team. Chief among those basic features is the ability to configure the system without IT expertise. Product mixes change, so the CPQ solution should feature an intuitive configuration workflow.
It’s also critical that companies that sell products via channels choose a CPQ system that can accommodate multi-tier pricing. Companies with complex products often manage customer-specific pricing deals featuring terms and conditions unique to a customer, and if the CPQ can’t handle this type of arrangement, manual processes will have to be used, which slows down deal velocity.
Other must-have features include a guided selling function that automatically provides upselling and cross-selling options. That helps companies maximize deal value. Mobile access to CPQ is also a must in today’s mobile-first environment, and the CPQ must access sales content databases to deliver quotes that meet marketing standards for brand consistency.
Other vital features include the ability to easily collect and analyze data to yield insights that can improve sales processes and product mix decisions. The CPQ solution should be able to accommodate a large number of products in the cart, and it should allow multiple levels of configurations seamlessly. These are the basic features any well-designed CPQ solution should offer.
With this broad introduction to CPQ in mind, the next step is to examine how a good CPQ solution benefits marketing. First on the list is that CPQ delivers a better customer experience. Existing customers are one of marketing’s most important assets, so a system that brings customers on board more quickly is automatically a win for marketing. B2B buyers especially are looking for speed and accuracy in the quotes process, and CPQ delivers.
CPQ can also function as a fail-safe that prevents costly errors in the product delivery process. When salespeople enter information in manually during the quotes phase, there’s always the risk of a mistake, especially when dealing with thousands of SKUs. The delivery of the wrong piece of equipment or other transactional mishap can be expensive in terms of logistics — and take a heavy toll on customer trust. Avoiding that is also a marketing win.
Another key CPQ feature that marketing professionals love is the system’s ability to deliver exactly the right content to salespeople at the right time. Virtually every marketing veteran has a horror story about sales teams handing out the wrong content or using outdated materials, which can hurt the company’s reputation and disrupt brand continuity. CPQ helps marketing solve that problem.
And finally, CPQ helps sales and marketing with automated guided selling features that enable everyone involved in the transaction to recognize what other products are available that can contribute to customer success. Instead of an upsell opportunity down the road, customers can benefit right away — and sales and marketing get to revenue faster.
CPQ may be thought of primarily as a sales team tool, but in today’s data-driven business environment, it’s important for sales and marketing to move beyond mere alignment and aim for team integration. Marketing teams that collaborate closely with sales will be ahead of the curve in a competitive marketplace, and by understanding and embracing technology like CPQ, they can gain a significant edge.
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