Growing customer expectations of the sales process continue to rise, and business buyers expect seamless experiences even as consumption models continue to shift. Similar to their consumer counterparts, B2B SaaS buyers are savvier than they’ve ever been, showing a strong preference for frictionless, self-service experiences, from initial research through purchase to post-sale support. Many organizations know they need to make changes to deliver on customer expectations, but find themselves mired in resource-heavy, manual pricing and quoting processes that result in inefficiencies across the entire customer interaction.
Organizations need to differentiate themselves through custom, guided, intuitive product offers and pricing scenarios that are easy for sales teams and customers to access. When faced with these challenges, a CPQ solution can help streamline the sales process, especially for products with complex pricing scenarios.
Streamlining the Sales Process
CPQ is one of the most effective ways to build efficiencies into a sales process, because streamlining and automating quoting helps ensure accuracy, sales productivity, error reduction, and flexibility around consumption model definitions and pricing rules.
When executed properly, a modern and seamless approach to pricing and quoting delivers numerous benefits:
- Increase margins - allows Sales to focus on selling rather than administrative work
- Faster decision making - enables Sales to reduce (or eliminate) manual approvals, focus on specific deals, and eliminate lengthy quoting cycles
- Onboarding and advancement - allows Sales to quickly generate accurate quotes for customers
- Enhanced renewals - streamlines the management of accounts without forcing customers to deal with tedious manual contracts, negotiations, ordering, and approvals
- Maximum volume selling - increases efficiency and response time to growing volume of sales inquiries, which provides a stronger experience for prospects and customers
Steps to Get Started with Your CPQ Strategy
Understand the competition and market disruptors
Competitors come in a variety of levels, ranging from your most direct competitors to those who are more remote. And most importantly, they’re not always who you think they are.
Direct competitors offer a product or service interchangeable with yours in the eyes of the buyer. For example, if you sell sales enablement software, then your direct competitors are those companies selling sales enablement software.
Substitute or alternative competitors, on the other hand, offer similar products in a different business category or are more geographically remote. As mentioned in the previous example, sales enablement software is also competing with educational videos, online and virtual training tools, and even "off the shelf" how-to software. None of these competitors provides exactly the same mix of products and services as you, but they may be picking off the most lucrative parts of your business.
Available spend competitors are even more far reaching because they compete for the same-occasion dollars. Companies have finite budgets and resources, and while in this example, sales enablement and training the sales team is important, perhaps, improving customer service is also a priority. Thus, another need is competing for limited budget dollars.
Taking inventory of competitors and market disruptors can reveal revenue opportunities you didn’t know existed, while gaining a better understanding of organizations that could erode your market share and offer more flexibility and agility with respect to product selection and billing options.
Analyze the comprehensiveness of options you deliver
Are you equipped to deliver on customers’ changing expectations? If you answer no to delivering on various consumption models or subscriptions, you may be at risk. This is why gaining a better understanding and visibility into which current sales work well and the reasons behind it is essential. The very nature of the product or service you are selling requires a complex and ever-changing set of rules to define:
- What the product and service is (and is comprised of) at a given point in time
- What customizations can and cannot be considered, and their impacts
- What opportunities for discounts at scale can be offered
- How products and services scale with the requirements of customers
The last point highlights the importance of seamless quoting for sales teams at SaaS companies that deal with customers in high-growth industries where scalability is of utmost importance. Dynamic deals, for example, involve customers who are ready to sign a contract today with the knowledge that they will need additional seats or quantities of your product or service in subsequent years. What usually happens is customers sign a contract for the seats/users they currently need (e.g., 100) at the current price. Of course, while your sales team can add additional seats in year two and subsequent years as the customer grows, the issue represents a missed revenue opportunity to negotiate a longer-term contract with increasing seats and quantities with built-in discounts without seamless quoting and pricing.
Get internal alignment between finance and sales leaders
Gain a clear view into what the market says about your company compared to others. That starts with establishing clear alignment along a number of fronts, most notably financial goals, but also how to execute and reach those goals. A core element is data. Seamless quoting and pricing as part of a unified quote-to-revenue process provides access to all relevant data in one place and gives finance and sales the ultimate source of truth. The right software not only helps you recognize revenue more efficiently in even the most complicated billing scenarios but also helps maximize your revenue by providing an end-to-end picture of the entire process.
But when quoting, billing, and revenue systems are siloed, administering even a seemingly simple update to an order can be a tedious and slow process. Most SaaS companies unfortunately take a piecemeal approach leveraging multiple applications: quoting software for the sales team, a separate billing system, a general ledger platform and a revenue recognition system for finance. In practice, however, fields tend to report incorrectly over time, especially as the company scales, adding new data points or “fixes” to the integration. Furthermore, when changes are made in one part of the system, they also need to be updated in three or four other applications, and the data reconciled. That makes internal alignment difficult if not tediously frustrating.
Expand alignment by discussing your technology roadmap with IT
To understand the business pressures IT leaders face, ask about plans to upgrade the sales and finance infrastructure and provide a roadmap of your priorities. This requires staying up to date on the latest technology such as CPQ, mobile tools, and AI, and being open to moving away from outdated processes. More importantly, you’ll need to gather, understand, and deliver management insight into the sales process, including customer-initiated quotes, sales-initiated quotes, quotes in progress, and other pipeline-related management views.
Establish clear project champions
When all is said and done, strong champions across partnering lines of business influence the success of any initiative. Take inventory of the LOB your new strategy will impact (sales, service, marketing, and supply chain) and make those connections early to maintain momentum as you execute.
Moving Forward Begins Now
Organizations that optimize selling processes to help sales cycles, increase margin expansion, improve quote quality control, and improve customer experience realize tremendous returns for their efforts. Seamless quoting and pricing offers numerous advantages, including:
- Pricing optimization that include discount levels and maximizing margins
- Enforcement of pricing rules and approvals that eliminate lengthy quoting cycles
- Product and consumption model support to easily roll out new products and services as they become available and to grow the business
- Increased sales capacity so sales teams are focused on selling
- Simplified contract and subscription management that streamlines the contract acceptance and modification process
To see how we can streamline your finance operations, contact us.