• March 1, 2015
  • By Jim Dickie, partner, CSO Insights

Can Configure, Price, and Quote Apps Be Sales' BFF?

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With implementations of core CRM applications (Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.) now ubiquitous, companies are finding that while those systems can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of salespeople, they are far from being the answer to all the sales challenges their teams face. In CSO Insights' Sales Performance Optimization study, which surveyed more than 1,000 firms worldwide, only 12.6 percent of the firms that are leveraging core CRM solutions reported seeing major increases in revenues per rep as a result of that investment alone.

But what the study also found was that when companies augment their core CRM functionality with additional tools that address specific problems salespeople are encountering, significant revenue increases do result. So if you already have a core CRM system in place, what other technology should you be considering to help hit your 2015 sales targets?

Let's address that question by looking at what we are asking reps to do this year. The chart below summarizes the top priorities sales teams have for 2015.

Looking down the list, we see a lot of metrics that point to the need for sales teams to not just make more calls, but also to make great calls to close new accounts, increase the average deal size, improve margins, minimize customer churn, etc. What role could technology play here?

Enter configure, price, and quote (CPQ) applications. Solution providers such as APTTUS, CallidusCloud, FPX, Oracle BigMachines, PROS Cameleon, and others offer CPQ systems that integrate into your core CRM framework. To put the power of CPQ into perspective, consider what would happen if the key subject matter expert (SME) for each of your products was able to go on every prospect or customer call your sales force made. How much more effective would those calls be?

The SME would be very effective at knowing all the questions to ask to do a comprehensive needs analysis. He would quickly understand any opportunities to maximize deal size through cross-selling or upselling. He would easily identify the key factors that differentiate your offerings from those of the competition. He would be able to build a comprehensive business case around the ROI the client could expect to achieve, thus minimize discounting. He would effectively address any question or objections getting in the way of the customer saying yes. In short, the SME would make sure that call was a great call.

In such a scenario, the SME could quickly become the salesperson's BFF. Unfortunately, this is a totally impractical approach to selling. Based on staffing costs, we can't afford to have SMEs sitting in on every sales call. But we can have their knowledge available to sales reps. That is the power of CPQ.

If you take the time to understand what SMEs do, and how they do it, you can have a CPQ solution serve as a "virtual" SME, coaching the rep through each step of the call by facilitating the conversation he has with the client. With the continuing explosion of tablet hardware, that knowledge can be available to salespeople anytime anywhere.

In addition, CPQ systems can record what happened during the call: what questions were asked, what data was shared, what items may still need to be addressed. This enables the voice of the customer to be easily shared with the rest of the enterprise, all without anyone having to fill out call reports.

So if you need to turbo charge sales effectiveness this year, taking the time to understand the power of CPQ could be a great starting point. Helping reps make more effective calls is a win-win for everyone.


Jim Dickie is a partner with CSO Insights, a research firm that specializes in benchmarking CRM and sales effectiveness initiatives. He can be reached at jim.dickie@csoinsights.com.


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