For manufacturers, accepting and processing customer orders can be far from simple. Nowadays, customers want complete customization – unique configurations, special features, and bespoke pricing. This makes for a tricky sales process.
Generating a price quote for each order might require hours of manual number-crunching to calculate prices for endless options to guarantee production and shipping needs are met. As such, relying on slow, mistake-prone manual quotes for customizable orders is a nightmare for sales teams. It’s just too easy to miss something and lose revenue. Meanwhile, customers get frustrated waiting hours or even days for a quote.
To speed up turnaround, minimize mistakes, and keep customers happy, manufacturers need modern solutions that automate quoting and tame configuration complexity. The old pencil-and-paper approach won’t fly anymore. This is where modern CPQ solutions come into play.
CPQ stands for “configure, price, quote,” and it refers to software that automates the entire quote-to-cash process for complex product orders.
The origins of CPQ date back to the 1980s, when formula-driven product parameters first emerged to help sales teams correctly configure complex modular product offerings. Over the years, CPQ capabilities have expanded greatly. Today’s CPQ solutions augment product configuration with rapid pricing calculations, rule-based validation, proposal generation, and integration with CRM and ERP systems.
Modern CPQ software utilizes guided selling, integration with product data sources, and automation to streamline quoting. It enables sales teams to quickly configure customizable products, generate accurate quotes, provide rapid responses to RFQs, and shorten sales cycles. CPQ software for manufacturing is especially transformative, as it simplifies the complexities of issuing quotes for highly configurable orders.
Leading manufacturers now leverage CPQ to optimize pricing, improve win rates, and provide an exceptional customer quote experience.
Current Challenges in Manufacturing Sales
Manufacturers relying on manual quoting face multiple challenges that hinder sales productivity and accuracy. Key issues include:
- Manual quoting is time-consuming and prone to errors – Performing endless calculations by hand for each quote is enormously time-consuming for sales teams. And all that manual number crunching inevitably leads to frequent pricing errors that negatively impact profit margins.
- Difficulty managing complex product configurations – Mapping out all the potential configurations and modular options for customizable equipment is incredibly complex. Sales reps struggle to account for every possible component combination accurately. This leads to incorrect quotes.
- Lack of visibility into pricing, inventory, and order status – Without access to real-time manufacturing cost and inventory data, sales reps are operating blind. They can’t reliably factor in costs or availability when quoting, causing fulfillment issues.
- Long sales cycles due to inefficient processes – Relying on manual methods means quotes take far too long to complete. Extended turnaround times frustrate customers and give competitors a chance to intervene. This directly increases sales cycles and slows revenue.
Alright, so how exactly does CPQ software fix the quoting headaches for manufacturing sales? Let’s break it down.
The Power of Automation in CPQ Software
First and foremost, CPQ delivers big time on automation. It uses rule-based engines to instantly calculate pricing for all product configurations, custom options, and other factors. No more manual number crunching.
Accurate quotes go straight to customers for rapid turnaround. This shortens sales cycles and accelerates revenue. What’s more, because they’re generated algorithmically using the latest data, CPQ-generated quotes don’t need manager approval, unlike manual ones.
By automating complex quoting, CPQ also improves efficiency. Sales teams gain back tons of time previously wasted on calculations. Automatic pricing guidance prevents errors that impact margins too. CPQ provides complete visibility into product and order data, so quotes have precision. This leads to fulfillment that aligns perfectly with what was quoted.
Simplifying Complex Product Offerings with Guided Selling
Now for the really game-changing stuff. Newer CPQ solutions also offer guided selling tools and advanced configuration capabilities to greatly simplify quoting complex, customized production orders.
Interactive visual interfaces allow sales reps to easily build quotes as the system guides them through selecting all the right modular components, features, and custom options required. Rather than relying on tribal knowledge, CPQ incorporates live data from CAD, ERP, and other systems for holistic product representation.
This tight integration enhances accuracy while also improving operational efficiency across teams by aligning systems.
Achieving Data-Driven Precision in Manufacturing Sales
Another major advantage of CPQ systems is providing a centralized database to house all product configurations, pricing data, manufacturing costs, and customer/account information in one place.
This single source of truth grants sales teams valuable data-driven insights to tailor pricing and product offerings with precision for each unique customer situation. No more quoting blind based on intuition.
Moreover, having integrated data enables personalized price optimization. Many CPQ solutions also offer built-in data analytics and reporting capabilities. This allows manufacturers to uncover insights that improve win rates, boost revenue, inform sales strategy, and optimize performance over time through understanding quoting trends.
With data-driven CPQ systems, manufacturers can achieve new levels of strategic pricing capabilities tailored to each sales opportunity for maximum revenue.
Automating complex quoting processes with CPQ solutions delivers faster turnarounds, fewer mistakes, and happier customers who aren’t pulling their hair out waiting. Simplifying all those configurable options and bringing data together in one place unlocks next-level sales productivity. And keeping pricing consistent improves the bottom line.
For manufacturers still stuck using fragmented, cumbersome manual processes, it’s mission-critical to embrace CPQ if you want to keep up with the competition. With so many upsides, manufacturers owe it to their customers, sales teams, and company cash flow to plot a course to CPQ transformation.