Recently I wrote an article for Intercomms Magazine on how customers are finding success in selling subscriptions with a full customer lifecycle approach. One of the themes was about simplifying the IT sales process. I would like to expand a bit on that topic regarding CPQ solutions.

As you know selling comprehensive IT solutions to enterprises is a complicated business for solution providers today, but it doesn't have to be. Near-constant innovation in product and service offerings increases opportunities, but their complexities can hinder sales efforts and impact the bottom line. And continually changing vendor incentives and promotions make it difficult to price solutions competitively and to optimize margins.

Solution providers are also challenged by the many teams involved in designing, selling, and pricing an IT solution, such as sales, sales support, procurement, and contract renewals. The sales workflow needs to be agile and collaborative. Having a responsive customer-first focus that gets accurate quotes to customers in a timely manner is key.

The increasing complexity also means IT solution providers have to leverage today's and tomorrow's technologies to rein in and automate the potentially unwieldy sales process. Typical Configure, Price, Quote solutions (CPQ) are often insufficient for addressing today's complex IT solution sales requirements.

How can CPQ tame a wild IT sales process? Increased accuracy, efficiency, scalability and more.

Leveraging CPQ for today's IT solution needs

As with other sales tools, CPQ solutions vary widely in features and applications. A straightforward tool for configuring sales parameters and creating quotes can involve little more than a document template and price lists. Such a simplistic approach may have worked for straightforward transactions in the past. For example, selling a piece of hardware that required little to no customization, like a PC.

Traditional CPQ solutions shorten sales cycles through automation and accuracy. However, they need to be customized—at significant cost—for specific industries and a company’s own workflows.

That may not be the best answer for an IT solution provider who needs to create a complex end-to-end, multi-vendor IT solution proposal. For example, for an enterprise with multiple branch offices and a variety of technical needs. Complex design decisions need to be made for characteristics such as physical ports, electrical, power, and compatible interfaces, then product SKUs selected and configured. The entire multi-vendor solution is then priced and quoted. It is important to also take into account a variety of channel programs offering discount incentives and rebates.

In this highly specialized industry, a jury-rigged general CPQ solution is not cost effective. Instead, a CPQ built specifically to handle the configuration, pricing, and quoting of complex multi-vendor solutions makes more sense: a CPQ-for-IT.

How CPQ-for-IT helps IT solution providers manage sales processes

Sales management is easier with modern CPQ solutions. They integrate with customer-relationship management, and with sales automation and management solutions such as Salesforce, and with enterprise resource planning applications.

With CPQ-for-IT, IT solution providers can ensure that sales efforts are consistent, and less time is spent on non-sales activities. Its main benefits are: saving time, increasing accuracy, enhancing efficiency, introducing business intelligence, optimizing customer experience and enabling flexibility.

Close faster

CPQ-for-IT solutions eliminate many of the hurdles that slow down IT sales. Its tools facilitate training, widen access to knowledge across an organization and take advantage of automation.

Avoid mistakes

Few things are as disastrous in a sales process as incorrect information. With real-time information on prices, availability and product dependencies, CPQ-for-IT solutions arm your business with accuracy. Solutions get configured right the first time, and quotes need revisiting only when the customer’s requirements change.

Build a more-efficient process

With CPQ-for-IT, the more-rapid access to product and promotional details as well as increased accuracy contribute to productivity and efficiency improvements, so your deals don’t lose momentum or lose out to the competition before they close.

Leverage intelligence

All parts of the organization need access to business intelligence driven by valuable data sources such as product catalogs and promotional data bases. With CPQ-for-IT the team spends more time taking action than grinding through spreadsheets and data.

Maximize customer experience

Smart businesses know that focusing on providing a great customer experience is a sure-fire way to ensure customer loyalty. With CPQ-for-IT, IT solution providers become trusted advisors, customers receive accurate proposals quickly, and solutions get implemented correctly the first time.

More flexibility = more sales

The flexibility of CPQ-for-IT solutions may be their greatest benefit. From comprehensive and accurate deployments to the ability to make changes quickly, the right CPQ can makes sales happen more quickly, accurately and efficiently, helping businesses solidify their status as experts and trusted partners.

CPQ-for-IT tools that maximize IT solution provider benefits

Netformx offers a suite of applications that enable the IT solution sales process to flow smoothly and efficiently. Solution providers gain significant value by integrating the solutions into their end to end workflow and processes.

Netformx solutions optimize a typical workflow by:

  • Connecting the dots in the configuration, price, quote, cash workflow
  • Optimizing vendor promotions and incentives
  • Adding value by optimizing each step of the workflow
  • Eliminating manual steps in the workflow process

The benefits are increased profit via deal velocity and cost and margin optimization.

Are you looking to take your sales process to greater levels of efficiency? Do you want to maximize use of automation and technology to drive sales and optimize customer experience? Learn more about Netformx CPQ-for-IT and how it can help you take control of your sales process. To further explore its role in workflow integration and optimization, see Pete Eggimann’s blog.