5 Ways CPQ Adds Value Across the Customer Journey in a Post-COVID World

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Prior to the start of the pandemic, B2B sales were steadily moving onto digital channels. Then in March, the industry hit an abrupt inflection point. By April, more than 90 percent of B2B companies transitioned to a fully virtual sales model, according to a McKinsey survey.

While companies have undoubtedly faced hurdles in adapting to this rapid digital shift, many have transformed business outcomes in the process by implementing new and innovative digital sales platforms.

Salesforce’s Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) was practically designed for the COVID-19 era. It makes the remote B2B sales experience both immediate and immersive, the two main qualities of live exchanges that we’ve tried to approximate through Zoom.

But CPQ does more than sub for traditional sales interactions – it introduces efficiency, customization, and rich visuals at every point of the customer journey. Here are five ways you can leverage CPQ in B2B selling to deliver additional value to your customers. (Please note, while the article covers Salesforce CPQ, it also includes ways to increase functionality that may only be possible when integrating with additional software.)

1: CPQ Lets Your Products Speak for Themselves

Buyers in today’s landscape have a strong preference for self-service, especially early in the customer journey. Between 2016 and 2019, the percent of customers that prefer self-service options in the evaluation stage jumped from 18 to 61 percent, according to a Salesforce survey.

CPQ makes the buyer journey as hands-off as the buyer wants it to be. If interested prospects prefer to be left alone in the evaluation stage, sellers can simply direct them to the CPQ platform where they can test out configurations and feature add-ons on their own. Once the prospect is ready to put together a product bundle or talk pricing, sellers can step in to guide them.

2: Eliminate Internal Silos with Visual Configurators

After discussing pricing and feature requests with a prospective buyer, a salesperson should be able to present a product configuration with custom inputs that’s ready to demo on the spot. CPQ makes that near-instantaneous visualization possible.

In traditional B2B sales cycles, buyers sometimes have to wait for sellers to refer back to their product or engineering teams to put together a configuration of the product. This delay is frustrating to sellers, who want to provide fast, uninterrupted service to customers.

CPQ does the configuration heavy lifting on its own, no custom coding required. That means sales, engineering, and product teams can streamline their operational processes: sales reps gain autonomy, and engineering and product teams save time on one-off projects.

3: Create Immersive Sales Experiences with 3D and Augmented Reality

In the B2B marketplace of physical products, visuals are king. But too often when buyers finally get to see what the product looks like, they see a static, 2D photo that doesn’t instill buyer confidence.

CPQ visual configurator integrations bring dynamic, interactive, and high-quality product visuals in 3D and AR directly to a prospective buyer. It’s as close as digital sellers can get virtually to demoing a product the way they would at a trade show.

However, visual configurators are superior to the old trade show experience because they enable sellers to show custom configurations in real time, in the environment the product will be used in. For instance, a manufacturing device seller could demo a buyer’s product in the context of the warehouse floor it will live on using 3D and AR.

4: Close Complex Deals Faster with CPQ & Billing

It’s not just the product-sales relationship that saves time with CPQ. The platform helps sellers solve pricing inefficiencies and shortens the entire sales timeline, which customers appreciate.

Many sales operations have a financial disconnect between front and back office. Sales reps use a CRM like Salesforce to manage customer acquisition, and accountants use an ERP to track revenue. In between, a series of manual processes and legacy systems often result in errors, hours spent on data entry, and delayed approvals – in other words, lost revenue, time, and customer satisfaction.

CPQ & Billing gives Salesforce users built-in pricing approvals, one-click quote generation, and improved transparency with finance. When the customer is ready to talk numbers, the seller has them on hand and ready to go.

5: Cultivate Recurring Customer Relationships with a Simplified Reordering or Subscription Process

The initial sales conversation is only the first step in building a long-term customer relationship. Buyers want the same quality of service they received at the beginning at every following touchpoint. Why? According to a Salesforce survey, 73 percent of customers are likely to switch brands if a company is unable to provide consistent service levels across channels.

With CPQ & Billing, sellers can automate complex billing requirements and electronic payments so that invoices are quick and easy at the customer’s end.

Plus, the platform helps sellers stay ahead of contract expirations so they can proactively reach out ahead of a renewal date. CPQ also makes reordering and part replacements smooth and straightforward for customers – no need to re-enter all of their information.

CPQ Ushers Buyers and Sellers into a Digital Future

We don’t yet know what’s in store for 2021. Businesses can’t accurately predict now whether they’ll be able to return to conventions and conferences to sell like they have in years past.

COVID-19 may have prompted the paradigm shift to digital in B2B sales, but CPQ was already leading the charge toward digital in March 2020. CPQ helps sales pros provide a rich and seamless buyer experience that even in-person sales can’t compete with.

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