Welcome back to another installment in our ongoing series Why Did My CPQ Project Fail? As always, if you’re coming to this series for the first time, be sure to start at the beginning here.
In this post, we’re going to build upon the initial posts and dig deeper into the reasons why CPQ implementations fail and some suggestions for avoiding potential pitfalls
Why CPQ Implementations Fail
Let’s get started by looking at how inexperienced implementation teams can derail your CPQ project.
1. The CPQ implementation team is inexperienced (in Sales Acceleration tools).
It probably sounds a little trite. Obviously an inexperienced implementation team is going to present some problems and likely contribute to a poor outcome. Consider a BI project: If the Project Manager or Business Analyst doesn’t understand why the management dashboard needs drill down data on some, but not all, data points, they won’t know what to push back on, which could lead to scope creep, missed deadlines, and a lackluster go-live.
When it comes to Sales Acceleration tools (and CPQ is a big part of this toolset), the domain knowledge possessed by the implementation team is integral to project success. But why? Well, let’s investigate.
2. Companies don’t challenge convoluted pricing/product/approval strategies.
I’ve heard the following time and again from customers and prospects: “...it has to be done this way. It’s how we’ve run the business forever!”. Perhaps you’ve heard this before in your professional life and have felt equally frustrated by the needless rigidity of this mindset.
In my experience, prospects are often loathe to alter existing processes because they may not be privy to what others in their vertical are doing, or they may not be aware of what CPQ tools are capable of in terms of simplifying complex processes, or perhaps they’re simply stuck in their old ways.
Regardless of the why behind this lack of change initiative, it’s important for implementation teams to have the know-how to step back and identify the benefits of doing things differently and convincingly articulate the reasons for adopting new processes and strategies. If they don’t, then they’ll simply replicate the mistakes and inefficiencies of the current system — only now there’s a hefty licensing fee attached.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to be the one to explain to the CEO why a multi-million dollar technology project that spanned more than a year has resulted in minimal revenue gains.
3. Failure to translate “salesmanship” into a better buying experience.
Salesmanship is important. It helps you achieve your goals, advance your career, and build relationships with people both personally and professionally. One of the core tenants of CPQ is to help your sales force become faster, smarter, and better at selling — but ultimately, the best salespeople don’t sell; they help customers buy.
A good implementation team will understand how to turn this philosophy into a series of actions, processes, and decision points that CPQ will facilitate. If your team doesn’t have these capabilities, you’ll likely miss an opportunity to reverse stagnating or declining revenue.
What about the Customer’s Responsibility?
Perhaps it’s because I believe in the power of consultancy-based sales engagements, but the customer should only be responsible for defining the “as-is” processes and problem statements. To ask for more is unnecessarily ambitious because a customer doesn’t completely understand the capabilities of the CPQ application. A skilled AE will help a customer tease out more from a problem statement and discover additional opportunities to benefit from CPQ.
It’s Worth It to Ask for More
When it comes to implementation, the team members involved are as important as the tools selected to complete the CPQ project. I can’t stress this enough: Interview everyone and replace people that don’t meet your expectations. This isn’t about an individual’s ability to implement the CPQ tool, but whether or not he or she “gets it.”
Let me humbly say that most of the customers I’ve worked with have had a positive outcome with their CPQ projects because I was able to challenge them and provide advice at the right moment.
There’s More to Come
I hope you’re finding these articles useful. Be sure to subscribe to the FPX blog to stay up-to-date as we continue this series and release more valuable content about CPQ and the tech industry.