In a recent blog post, we discussed the basics of CPQ (Configure Price Quote) software, an all-in-one digital tool manufacturers use to design custom specifications based on simple commands, draft complete solutions visually and tabulate quotes right in front of their customers.
CPQ technology has seismic implications for how custom manufacturing sells its goods today and will sell them tomorrow, but what does it mean for the typical business operating in the industry? We've compiled a short list of the three most important value propositions custom manufacturers stand to gain by integrating CPQ software into their sales.
Faster conversion cycle
In the past, filling a custom manufacturing order has been a long, drawn out process. When a customer files a request, salespeople pass the order along to in-house engineers who price each component accordingly and draft specifications before returning the bid to the client. This may take days or even weeks. Any hang-ups, miscalculations or revisions could set the project back even further. When everything's said and done, who knows if the customer will still be interested.
The speed of CPQ software prevents all this back-and-forth from impacting sales. During the sales process, quotes are automatically calculated based on predetermined rates built into the software. Because the engineering knowledge is built into the software, there's no need to involve engineers in each sale. In addition, CPQ-powered salespeople always know the right thing to ask at the right time, thanks to prompts in the interface expediting the process.
In the end, customers have a better idea of what they're getting than if they'd been sent an itemized list or sketches, and confidence always helps bids convert to sales.
Higher quote and sales rates thanks to smarter bundling
A sales person working in custom manufacturing does not necessarily have the engineering expertise to understand everything needed for a build. For their employers, this lack of knowledge puts customer service and the reputation of the business at risk. Customers with tight budgets won't appreciate a more expensive quote because of an error on the part of the manufacturer, especially if the missing piece is out of stock and will take time to procure.
CPQ effectively prevents this from happening. Whether customers take advantage of self-service portals or speak with a salesperson using the software to fill their orders over the phone or in person, CPQs respond to users based on values they input and corroborate fields against connected ERP systems. For instance, adding one component to their build may automatically trigger a prompt explaining the need for other ancillary parts. CPQ software then either confirms the additional components are available or places a request once the customer's order is finalized.
Lower training costs for sales representatives
As we mentioned above, salespeople typically possess a limited understanding of the things they sell, especially when it comes to the complex field of custom manufacturing. Employers may not possess the resources to train their sales staff in the finer points of engineering, let alone continuously reeducate them as the organization innovates and diversifies its product line. Even worse, this knowledge gap not only hinders sales, but it could also slow recruitment if hiring managers expect a high degree of discrete experience in custom manufacturing sales from their job applicants.
By simplifying and automating the more intricate aspects of customer manufacturing sales, CPQ software allows adopters to staff salespeople according to customer service acumen, not their technological know-how. It also ensures consistency between your staff, which is critical, but sometimes hard to achieve with larger or distributed sales teams.
Unit pricing, measurements, materials, labor costs - all these elements are programmed directly into the software and can easily be adjusted according to client demands. Moreover, businesses that invest in online self-service portal options cut back on work for their sales staff - that means fewer orders to fill manually, as well as the ability to operate powerfully with only a small sales team.