The ABCs of CPQ: Configure, Price, Quote in Salesforce CRM

Part 1: What is CPQ and why is it important?

Does your company sell products and services that require a high level of effort to assemble and deliver a clean quote to the customer? Do your solutions have dozens, or hundreds of SKUs and configuration options, with pricing and legal terms changing dynamically for each variation?  Does your sales business process have the potential to be error-ridden, cumbersome, and time-consuming for customers and your sales team?  Are you concerned about sales team members having too much discretionary authority? Are self-service customers leaving your e-commerce site without purchasing, perhaps dissatisfied that their buying experience was lengthy and inefficient? For many companies, all of this can lead to frustrated employees not being able to get the information they need to support the business as well as poor customer experiences that ultimately cost you sales and drive clients to your competitor.

When companies attempt to take on a CPQ initiative, often the question is, where do we begin and how do we know which CPQ platform is right for us? It’s a tough question to answer without getting a good look under the hood and discussing your current business processes. Let’s take a look at how a company could typically manage the sales cycle by role, while addressing all of the day to day business challenges using Salesforce CPQ.

Starting with the Product Marketing Manager (PMM), who utilizes CPQ to create and update products and price books when new products come to market.  The PMM works with the sales team on how to bundle and / or set up product option package(s) and makes the offering active. They also help define pricing strategies and implement these strategies via product and pricing rules Thanks to CPQ, the PMM knows the Sales team must sell within the defined guidelines, from both a configuration and pricing perspective.  The PMM can also work with finance, manufacturing and supply chain, to manage and update pricing changes in near real-time.

Meanwhile, in preparation for customer contracting, the legal team works with sales and marketing using CPQ, to ensure the appropriate legal terms are in place and appropriately formatted within a quote prior to delivery. Thanks to CPQ, legal is assured that the sales team is working within legal guidelines to close a deal and deliver goods and services to the customer.

When sales reps are working with customers, CPQ helps them build a product and service offering specific to each customer’s needs quickly and precisely.  The offering is priced correctly within the parameters set by the organization, complete with legal terms specific to the product and / or services offering. Ultimately this allows sales to spend more time selling and less administrative time putting together a package.

In the long run, the CFO and CEO have peace of mind knowing that core functions of their company have come together to utilize Salesforce CPQ and create sales cycle efficiency.  Their company is now creating a smarter quoting process and a single view to the customer’s sales experience from quote to cash.  If they have any business concerns regarding renewals, they can rest easy knowing that the sales team is being pro-active in renewing contracts through auto opportunity creation or auto-renewal functions that trigger conditionally.  Finally, for the C-Suite, CPQ ensures highly complex distributor / partner / customer relationships with varying “contracted pricing” structures are managed effectivity so sales quote accurately.

This is a high level CPQ software experience, but the takeaway is that cross-functional interaction and business logic understanding, is the key to a successful CPQ implementation. As you can see from this high-level overview of the CPQ software experience, Salesforce CPQ, when professionally set-up and customized by a best-of-breed professional services provider, creates good employee and customer experiences.  Those positive experiences lead to attracting and retaining talented staff and growing a client base.  And that talent pool and customer loyalty increases revenue and market share for your brand.  The right CPQ platform implemented by the right partner results in your company having a substantial competitive advantage in your marketplace.

Want to learn more about CPQ, click here to schedule a consult.

Coming in Part 2: CPQ Nervous System; Building a solid CPQ foundation

Thinking of becoming a Salesforce Consultant?

Making the professional switch to Salesforce may seem daunting, but it can be satisfying and lucrative.  It’s not just a new technology, it’s a whole new ecosystem filled with thousands of solution options.  Your choice may seem like a tough one, but look what Salesforce is saying about its growth, “The Salesforce ecosystem is expected to grow by 3.3 million jobs and create 859 billion dollars in new business revenues by 2022”. (The Salesforce Economy Forecast)

So, you have decided to make the switch (good choice!), but knowing where to start and where to focus can be the difference between a new career taking off and soaring or one that fizzles and never meets expectations.  Ending up on the right path is critical and I believe there are three steps you can take to becoming a Salesforce guru.

  First, you need to get your hands wrapped around the idea that technology is only part of the solution.  You will bring the most value to your customers by displaying how you can help improve their processes and center them around their customers and/or employees.  Start off by building a strong foundation around process improvement, customer and employee experiences and then make sure you can translate those into your customers terms.

Second, get certified.  Salesforce offers over 20 certifications aimed at supporting its platform (Hint, find something you like and are good at and focus on that).  There are many paths that can be taken, but you need to start with the Administrator Certification.  Once you have the admin. certification your path as a Salesforce consultant opens up and allows you to gain an understanding into the specific clouds that make up the Salesforce platform.  Take a look at Salesforce Consultant Certifications Overview. Find the cloud aspect you like the most and start your study.  Try not to limit yourself to just the technology, do everything possible to expand your understanding of how businesses operate.  For example, if you decide to focus on Service Cloud, read up and truly understand the theory behind Knowledge Centered Service.

Finally, certifications and knowledge alone will not be enough.  One of the most daunting tasks any consultant faces is attempting to decipher what a customer verbalizes as their needs with what their customer is actually asking for.  While this may sound strange, understanding how to solve the gap between the two is where you will separate yourself from your peers.  The secret is the “art of listening”.  Over the years I have worked with some of the best and worst consultants.  The key differentiator is the good ones listen 80% of the time and talk 20% while the bad ones solution on the fly, talk more than their customers, and try and enforce their will on the customer without understanding what the customer really needs.

A successful Salesforce career starts with the understanding that you will need to build up your business acumen, master the platform, and learn how to really listen.  Salesforce can be one of the most rewarding career changes you can make and every day we watch people grow into a world class Salesforce consultants.  Are you the next one?

What Drives Sales Productivity

Why is it that your most talented sales people do not always produce the greatest results and some of your least experienced sellers over-achieve? Traditional metrics on sales productivity only tell part of the story.  Understanding the full picture requires evaluating your onboarding programs, enablement activities, technology, metrics, and the mindset of your selling organization.

If you are in sales, chances are you have heard of “sales enablement”.  Traditional organizations have focused their efforts on new hire onboarding and product training.  Ensuring your sellers are prepared to succeed in a competitive world takes much more, it requires understanding what drives your employees and what they need to be successful.  IDC wrote that sales enablement is “Getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward.”  For years companies have been focused on fulfilling this definition, but we believe there are still critical areas organizations overlook.

The first is ensuring sales enablement starts with a deep understanding of who the buyer is and what they need.  In other words, effective sales enablement should be customer experience-centric.  Instead of leading with your company value try creating an experience designed around your customers actual goals and objectives.  Before your next meeting ask yourself if you are focused on what is best for your customer or what is best for you.

The second is understanding that what separates those who accomplish great things from those who fail to realize their goals is not experience, intelligence, drive, or even creativity.  Research tell us the best indicator of success is your personal mindset.  According to bestselling author and business strategist Christopher Salem  “You are limitless, so play big”.  The idea for most companies is fixing the technology will solve your challenges.  That is just not a reality in today’s world; you need to focus on your processes, technology, and mindset.  Partnering with Chris on our strategic services has allowed us to expand our capabilities in helping organizations focus on the right areas “Sustainable success in sales is a process and always starts with learning to master the art of mindfulness.  Being present and consistent with daily habits and disciplines helps to de-clutter our mindset. A clear mindset leads to clarity which in turn we become more decisive and can follow through with massive action.  Being mindful or present in the moment creates the ability to be laser focused on one task at a time to master the art of selling” – Chris Salem.

Finally, organizations that are able to track their team’s performance in measureable and transparent milestones are more likely to reach their goals.  Setting targets that allow an employee and their manager to track their progress ensures everyone is focused on those things that drive value and growth.

If you’re responsible for driving success, I challenge you to take a look at your company and see if you are focusing on what’s best for your employees and customers.  Leave your feedback so we can start a conversation aimed at helping us all grow.

About the author:  Chris Thompson is the Managing Director of Archima.  Archima is a strategic consulting practice, that believes in creating unique customer and employee solutions.  “We believe in partnership and professional growth, so we bring a mindset of value and trust to every interaction”.

To learn more about how we help our customers reach their sales goals, contact one of the experts at Archima.

The Power of an Effective Marketing Solution and Why It Matters

One of the biggest mistakes organizations can make is to think having a great eCommerce Storefront with a robust SEO is an effective digital strategy. While their marketing team spends hours driving visitors to the site and nurturing them into leads, their sales team spends hours collecting, qualifying, organizing and chasing those leads. That’s not a very efficient digital marketing strategy!

Sales wants to focus on what they do best; selling, and marketing wants to get on with what they do best; creating innovative campaigns. But how do you make both teams happy? The solution is marketing automation through integrated Commerce and Marketing solutions. By automating all repetitive processes, organizations can free up their teams to focus on bringing new customers and making more sales. They align their marketing and sales efforts and empower them to increase ROI and revenue, and it can even inspire new automated processes as well.

So how does an automated marketing solution work? Imagine a scenario where you’re the owner of a bicycle business focusing on your B2C channel. Thousands of people visit your website with various levels of interest and engagement. But how can you boost visitor engagement? Some visitors show their area of interest by downloading your ‘Top 10 Lightweight Speed Bikes Designs’ contest results. With marketing automation in place this action automatically triggers your pre-planned ‘Speed Bikes Designs’ workflow for these visitors, designed to gradually warm them up from cold to warm leads. One day after downloading the report, your workflow automatically sends them an email with your ‘Top 5 Remarkable Designs of the Year’ video. Two days later it sends them your ‘Evolution of Speed Bikes Designs?’ fact sheet. For instance, did you know that in 1937 derailleur gears were introduced to the Tour de France, so riders could change gear without removing wheels? A few days later it sends the ‘Best Roadways for Speed Cycling’ webinar recording.

By nurturing your customers this way, you engage them with your business and your product,
gradually heating them up as leads. Then you strike while the lead is warm, offering them what you know to be key to conversion. You know that people are more likely to purchase bikes after attending your personalized bike selection and customization tour. So, at this stage in the workflow they are invited to register for your next available event for a personalized tour with a sales associate. After attending the tour, these leads are now tagged as ‘Visited Tour’ and can be fed with website content that is automatically personalized to them. No more tour offers, but ‘Buy the Bike Get 2 Years Extended Limited Warranty for Free’ offers, which are more appropriate. And by now, your lead is likely to be sizzling, so this is the best time for the system to automatically import them into your CRM, such as Salesforce Sales Cloud. With the invaluable workflow of marketing campaign automation, you have just sold a bicycle with minimal effort.

So now, why not turn this one time customer into a repeat customer? Firstly, you can up-sell on their first purchase by offering the next version up, the Model X Bike. Then you can cross-sell necessary optional accessories, like the helmet, cycling shoes and gear. And finally, you can offer your cycle-based sale. You can also offer your customers a just-in-time replacement of key parts. Now your ROI has shot through the roof by automatically up-selling, cross-selling and cycle-selling. You have turned a one-time purchase into a lifelong customer. Embedded in your automatic marketing workflow, is the customer satisfaction survey. Satisfied customers receive a ‘Thank You for Completing Our Survey’ email that also offers suggestions of how they can express their feelings on social networks. Any less than satisfied customer surveys are examined. And you can send those dissatisfied customers a water bottle as a free gift, creating a satisfied customer in the process.

So you see, your marketing automation workflow helps you nurture, heat up, and ready your leads for sale and turn a one-off purchase into a lifelong customer, while saving you time and boosting brand love, customer happiness, and company revenues.

So how can you set up marketing automation on your Commerce site quickly? Let’s see how it’s easily done with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a full-featured customer experience management solution that can turn your Commerce site into a sales and marketing powerhouse.

  • First, you create a new process, a workflow of which you can have many, each focusing on a particular area of your business. You set up the trigger you want for this workflow.
  • Then you can add an unlimited number of steps and determine how they connect. Your workflow might include waiting periods and conditional steps, as well as steps at: update the contact status, offer newsletter subscription, or import the contact into your CRM.
  • You can see the list of contacts currently at each step, and are able to move them to other steps manually.
  • You can check the reporting of your workflow at any time.

Be aware that actively using automated marketing process workflows on your Commerce site may lead to: boosted sales readiness of your leads, improved marketing and sales productivity and efficiency, increased sales revenues, increased customer engagement through enhanced targeting, deepened and maintained positive customer relationships. Salesforce Marketing Cloud campaign automation reveals its true power when used with other website activities, like: personalizing web content, depending on visitor data or actions, triggering a workflow based on a certain score level, and importing and updating contact data for use by sales.

Building Organizational Customer-Centric Culture Beyond Customer Service to Drive Exceptional Experiences

When I think about an organizational Customer-Centric thinking to deliver delightful customer experiences, I try and use an analogy. And the analogy that I’d like to use is clothing and a department store / retailer. And you realize that in that retail store itself are a number of employees who are there trying to help you with their customer service. Customer-centric experience is a little bit different from the standpoint as it happens way away from that brick-and-mortar. Customer-centric thinking really focuses on:

What are all the processes and the procedures?
What are the decisions that are made every single day as an employee that’s going to have an impact on that customer?

It’s a filter that everybody behind the brick and mortar need to have in order for those processes and the procedures to be focused very specifically on the customer.

Our economy is a consumer led economy. Things are happening faster than they ever have before, thanks to the next-gen wave of technologies and consumerization of products driven by a generational demand for digitization. Social media is creating a frenzy of feedback; instant feedback at the fingertips of every millennial consumer. So, when you think about why customer-centric experience is so important, you have the opportunity to be able to define for yourself what the consumer and what the customer is going to experience.

It really begins with intentionality. It has to be something that people are waking up every day thinking about the customer, worrying about the customer, and realizing that all the decisions they’re going to make during that day are going to be focused on that customer experience that’s happening. And so when you think about Customer-Centric Experience and how it happens, there are really three things that every employee needs to be doing:

  • Identify the Opportunity

See opportunities to make it better for the customer. You need to be able to see the opportunities through your customer’s lens. What are those things that are happening whether it’s in your function, in your role, or in the entire organization?

  • Own the Opportunity

The second thing that you would need to do is take ownership of the opportunity. They have to be accountable for them. They have to see that it is their responsibility to get those opportunities accomplished.

  • Act on the Opportunity

Then the third piece is you can do something about it; do something to take action on the opportunity. Whether it’s you physically doing it or whether you are leading a group that will do it, you need to be able to take those actions. You need to be able to do something specific around the opportunities because you know you own them, so that the customer experience can be intentional.

Customer-centric culture is a state of mind, a cross-company methodology, a true desire to have satisfied customers, and deep understanding of your customers. Listen to your customers, internalize processes and strive for continuous improvements, plan and make sure all groups understand they work for the customers, build and implement a trustworthy relationship with your customers, and most importantly never underestimate your customers.

Driving Customer Loyalty through Multi-Channel integrated Salesforce Cloud solutions

On average, it costs five to eight times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones. That’s a significant investment that can have an enormous impact of any brand’s bottom line. Therefore, focusing on current customers and their satisfaction is inherently imperative to customer loyalty, because statistics indicate that engaged customers spend on average 16% more.

But, how do you satisfy customers?

In the digital economy where competition is fierce and customer options are boundless, having a great product isn’t enough. You need to create an outstanding customer experience that means exceptional customer service and engagement across all touch points and multiple channels throughout customer journey, both offline and online.

In fact, 57% of customers consider customer service as the most important factor in driving loyalty to a brand. But customer service alone does not guarantee driving customer loyalty. So, don’t forget to make sure you deliver highly personalized and seamless experiences for different customers. Nearly half of all customers don’t find communications from loyalty programs they participate in relevant. But how do you deliver exceptional customer service and highly relevant communications? Consider three core methods:

  • Collect Customer Data

You need to understand, leverage and harness the customer data you collect. Think in terms of Single Customer View – aggregated, consistent, relevant, and holistic representation of all you know about your customers.

  • Know Your Customers

Show your customers you know them by creating unique experiences and targeted offers. Take those email campaigns to the next level. But be mindful of the fact that customers expect loyalty offers to be consistent across all channels and touchpoints. So, don’t make the mistake of treating your online store differently to your social media channel, or call center as a siloed solution. You need a multi-channel marketing platform that will help you deliver the right offer through the right channel to the right customer at the right time.

  • Deliver Personalized Service

Make sure you give your customers personalized efficient service. With a single customer view, you can service customer inquiries in your service center through any channel at lightning speed. By aggregating customer data and feeding it intelligently into your contact center environment, you can rapidly identify each customer’s need and provide them with the right information at the right time. By making service interactions with your organization easy, you’ll give them a service experience they’ll remember. Best of all it’s easy to switch on a multi-channel contact center solution when it’s available in the cloud.

And that’s how you create loyal customers. Customers who are as excited and passionate about your brand as you are. So, think solid customer data, effective multi-channel marketing, and superior support as the foundations for a most successful loyalty program. Not sure where to start? Connect with us and let our subject matter experts help and guide you through the ArchimaFORCE Digital Customer-Centric Experience (aDigital C²X) journey powered by integrated Salesforce Cloud platform solutions and tailored to your business needs.