When evaluating CPQ systems, it’s important to ensure that it supports the sales process across all channels, including direct, indirect, and B2B ecommerce.
Why? First of all, forcing sellers as well as buyers to juggle various quoting, pricing, configuration, and other tools is a problem. Jumping all over is really time consuming—not to mention confusing. With CPQ, a seller can configure, price, and quote all in a single tool.
What’s more, an indirect seller can use CPQ to do the same while connecting to the manufacturer’s pricing, configuration, and other data to ensure the order is correct. For a direct buyer, an ecommerce portal supported by CPQ allows for these things as well as the ability to complete the transaction.
By selecting one CPQ solution provider that can support all sales channels, instead of separate providers for each channel, your system will be more streamlined and easier to maintain and upgrade.
Let’s take a closer look at what an omnichannel sales process looks like and the benefits it can bring your business.
An OmniChannel Sales Process
To satisfy the demand of modern buyers, today’s companies must embrace an omnichannel sales strategy by adopting a process that simplifies, optimizes, and delivers the process of buying and selling across a mesh of direct, indirect, and online channels.
To improve sales, numerous companies have invested in countless solutions, whether that be ecommerce, ERP, CRM, or a homegrown CPQ application. While these systems do, in fact, help businesses manage the complexities of their processes, they are often siloed, disconnected, and introduce additional steps to the buying/selling process.
Whether it be direct or indirect sales or B2B ecommerce, an omnichannel sales process leverages an enterprise platform that unites existing technologies (including ERP, CRM, product information and pricing data), enables the sales of complex products, and offers full visibility to users across all channels.
To give you an idea of what an omnichannel approach looks like, imagine the following scenario, a potential “to-be” state of complex B2B buying and selling for your business, so to speak:
A buyer does some research on your website, tries to assemble a product or solution, submits a request for proposal for that configured solution to a sales rep, and then works with the sales rep to co-create an optimal solution. Next, someone else in the value chain may be brought in to service or implement the product. Finally, contracts are sorted out.
With an omnichannel solution, all of this is done in a seamless workflow facilitated by CPQ through an ecommerce platform with logins for direct sellers as well as vendors and resellers.
While there are many monetary incentives for offering the type of buying experience modern buyers expect, many B2B organizations are finding it difficult to make the transition to an omnichannel model. And when we say many, we mean 75% of companies have reported having difficulty delivering quality sales experiences across direct and indirect channels.
Why is this? Because most companies in traditional B2B industries (including aerospace, high-tech, automotive manufacturing, insurance, oil and gas, healthcare, etc.) sell complex products and services. This complex B2B sales environment is made up of different sales technology ecosystems, highly-configurable products and solutions, extended value chains, custom product bundles, and numerous processes and touchpoints.
Luckily, with an omnichannel sales process enabled by an enterprise CPQ system, this complexity can be better managed and your customers can get the simple, straightforward buying experience they crave.
Ultimately, you want to look for a CPQ solution provider that can provide a similar experience to your customers in every channel, including ecommerce, direct sales, and through partner and vendor channels. Keep in mind that the solution should also be able to integrate with other systems, such as accounting, ERP, CRM, as well as your pricing data and product information.
On the back-end, this type of CPQ solution will help streamline the processes of configuring complex solutions and make it easier to maintain product, pricing, and other data essential to your business. On the front-end, it will make your customer data referenceable and actionable across channels to deliver a more informed and personalized experience to your customers, whether they engage with your direct sales team, indirect channels, or ecommerce offering.