Customers are now at the height of the decision-making process, exerting a profound influence on manufacturing strategies. They want to be served custom products and services, so we can’t talk about a mass market anymore. The customers of today appreciate the performance, price, and functionality. Needless to say, nurturing is of the essence to create a relationship where customers feel heard and understood.

Customers in manufacturing demand and expect a seamless experience through all stages of the buying journey. Discouragingly, manufacturers fail to provide a good experience for customers. If a customer has a positive experience elsewhere, they’ll most likely leave. 

The B2B buying experience is not only complex but also paved with many steps. A prolonged quoting process is a recipe for failure. As a manufacturer, you must achieve optimal performance for quoting. You make complex products to exact customer specifications, which often involves long lead times and heavy engineering content. To win business, it’s necessary to provide accurate quotations to demanding customers. Using Excel for such an activity won’t do. What you need is a fully-mature system. The solution you’ve been looking for is CPQ software. 

But What Is CPQ (Or Configure, Price, Quote)? 

If you’re new to CPQ, it’s a software system that assists sellers quote products that have numerous feature options. Since it’s rule-based, it can be customized to address multiple variables that impact profit margins. A solution of this kind helps you ensure correct pricing and deliver bespoke quotes and brochures. The CPQ software works alongside the company’s CRM platform. Quoting shouldn’t be done manually because it’s a time-consuming process, not to mention that there’s the risk of error. Using AI-based technologies and in-depth integration of data, the CPQ solution makes business processes intelligent. 

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The CPQ industry accommodates many vendors. While some concentrate on one component (e.g., price optimization), others focus on several components. In what follows, we’ll take a look at the software features you can’t ignore: 

  • Visual product configuration. At present, people want to see what they’re buying. A visual configuration enables you to display available products and accessories so that customers know what their orders will look like. You can adjust the size, color, etc. 
  • Advanced rules engine. If you make and distribute complex, custom products, you’re likely to make quoting errors. CPQ software is helpful for instances that require logical decisions. It provides greater reliability in manufacturing with rules that enforce proper configuration. 
  • Cloud-based, mobile-friendly solution. You’ll find more security from being hosted on the cloud, especially if you don’t have the necessary resources to manage security. Users can access the CPQ at any point. Also, there’s a lower barrier to entry, with a much smaller investment.

CPQ Isn’t for Straightforward, Inexpensive Commodity Products 

As mentioned earlier, CPQ is aimed at businesses that sell complex products, such as equipment and machinery. It can also be used by businesses that offer configurable solutions, like telecommunications solutions or enterprise software. With CPQ for manufacturing, you can create automated, accurate purchase orders to streamline the quote process. If you already use CRM or ERP, integrate the CPQ software into the existing systems. The entire quote-to-order or quote-to-contract process becomes fully automated. Rule writing is minimal, which translates into the fact that new products can be added without changing models. 

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While CPQ was built purposefully for industrial manufacturing, the software system can be deployed for medical devices, fluid production lines, automobiles, and even lifts. The quotation process for such products is lengthy and complex. It’s paramount for companies to leverage CPQ to simplify the process and enhance the speed of delivery. To follow an opportunity, the sales team shouldn’t spend too much time searching through a conflicted system. When sales representatives have to correct quotes or obtain approvals, the opportunity to maximize the sales impact is lost. 

Inefficiencies In the Quoting Process Impedes Business Growth 

If the quoting process doesn’t ensure truthful price information flows within the organization, the quotes are submitted based on incorrect margins. This, in turn, leads to costly mistakes. A business quote must be comprehensive, meet trading and consumer obligations, and enable the conversion of prospects into customers. CPQ increases internal transparency, allowing for human oversight (if necessary). The application provides a complete view of the activities undertaken – every quote produced. The metrics can be deployed to make improvements to pricing and so on, to better serve customers. Even one lost customer can cost the company thousands to even millions. 

Nothing is worse than losing a customer due to restraints. The good news is that computing solutions have evolved to better facilitate quoting. An effective CPQ solution makes it possible to prepare quotes in less than one business day. Delays might be experienced due to product intricacy and potential engineering involvement. If the software system is cloud-based, quotes can be produced from anywhere and on any device. In other words, it’s possible to generate standard or branded quotes that create a good first impression. Needless to say, it’s important to train employees on how to use the software properly. 

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So, How Do You Know Which CPQ Solution Is Right for You? 

Manufacturing companies aim to deliver reliable products and services to their customers. Adopting CPQ software can help accelerate sales in an ever-changing economy. You as well need a solution if it takes days to respond to a quote, you struggle to find the right products, and your profitability isn’t where it needs to be. CPQ software is only valuable to the extent that it solves your problem. Some CPQ tools pose performance challenges if you add new products and services to the overall quote. This is precisely why you need a CPQ solution that is purpose-built for manufacturing. 

SaaS is a must. A SaaS CPQ eliminates manual configurations, which increases your productivity. Since it’s cloud-based, it can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. There’s no denying the fact that an on-premise solution offers more control over the data, but a SaaS solution is flexible and, above all, easily scalable. Maintenance, updates, and upgrades are the responsibility of the CPQ vendor. 

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