A Simple, Two-Step Process to Optimize the CPQ Requirement Definition Phase
Finally: a way for companies with extremely complicated, customized products to implement a CPQ system.
This is the first of a series of posts that delve into the selection of an effective, best-fit Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ tool for a company with extremely complex product specifications. We selected Revvy CPQ – and at the risk of spoiling the ending – Revvy has proven the best choice for what we call strategic sales optimization (A.k.a., an increasingly effective and profitable sales process).
So many companies with complicated products and services still believe that CPQs are not made for them. They reason that the quoting process is too involved for a piece of software to help them. Well: this series proves you wrong.
Although information abounds regarding specific features that will make a CPQ effective, what we call “the wraparound” processes – those that take a company from prospective buyer to a “blackbelt” CPQ user remains somewhat obscure.
We are sharing our process for: 1) prospective buyers in the mid market, as well as 2) vendors and 3) sales consultancies. This first article introduces the engagement and focuses on the first stage of CPQ vendor selection.
WHY IMPLEMENT A CPQ?
A $230 million manufacturer had recently implemented Salesforce.com. This caused friction with their existing quoting software – a custom “Proposal Manager” that provided exactly the desired functionality but with several draw-backs, such as: 1) complex configuration and maintenance; and 2) redundancy of data entry with Salesforce.
The client uses a streamlined overhead and staffing structure. (I.e., no one had the bandwidth to spend considerable time as a project manager or subject matter expert.) So we chose a simple two-step requirements/definition process to significantly reduce the cost without overlooking the best tool.
Our method helped minimize the upfront staff time and the risk of a wrong purchase by proceeding in two phases. These were 1) a two-stage requirements definition phase and 2) rapidly prototyping the basics of one of their products prior to committing to a full-scale rollout.
CPQ REQUIREMENT DEFINITION PHASE: STEP 1
The differentiating feature of this process is its starting point: Define the business environment. These requirements can be defined in one, two-hour session and will effectively narrow the pool of potential CPQ vendors to a handful. The secret is to tune into strategic direction and then align the tool to deploy within the natural trajectory of that direction. You want to end up with a tool that supports the business now and in the future, not in an antiquated state.
· What is/are your products, and how customizable are they?
· Do you sell bundled equipment, or are your products highly configured?
· Do you sell services?
· How do you go to market? How do you want to go to market?
· What is the current quoting system?
· What support does the CPQ need to provide?
· What change do you expect within the next five years?
You can see how these questions are qualitatively different and as important as what IT staff will ask:
· How easy is implementation?
· Will the CPQ integrate with our other systems?
· How easy is it to administer?
· Can we customize, or do we need to go back to the vendor for ongoing support?
In our initial session, we outlined the following business environment requirements. (Business requirements specs are in bold):
· A high degree of product configuration. The client has six divisions, two of which were the focus of this implementation. Their niche in the market is highly configured products, so this was a “nonnegotiable.”
· The client has quite literally trillions of product configurations (16!). Therefore, configuring CPQ with product information must be easy, and cannot be pre-specified. Ease of configuring the CPQ with product information. In particular, the tool must not require each potential product combination be pre-specified. Pre-specifying would result in a lot of work when many of the combinations will never be selected by its customers.
· Seamlessly integrates with SFDC thus eliminating redundant data entry and multiple system usage.
· Intuitive and easy to use.
· Ability to highly configure items that customers would view, such as quotes and proposals
· Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) including training, implementation, and annual subscription fees with escalation.
This short list allowed us to eliminate the vast majority of vendors right off the bat and ultimately make a “best-fit best-guess.” Our selection of Revvy CPQ turned out to be correct, but more on the selection process next time.
We welcome any discussion on this subject, so please leave a comment or connect with me on LinkedIn (Altavi, Inc.) or Twitter (@altaviinc).