Hidden Advantages of CPQ Software

Beyond the Basics: Uncovering Hidden Advantages of Top CPQ Solutions

Top CPQ solutions hold the power to revolutionize manufacturing businesses by transforming them from digital laggards into industry leaders.

While CPQ's primary function is to streamline and expedite the sales process through efficient product configuration, pricing, and quoting, numerous lesser-known benefits provide value across the organization, extending beyond the sales team. In this article, we'll delve into these unsung advantages and reveal their true potential.

Share this article

You won’t get all the benefits we discuss from every CPQ solution. And these benefits might not be immediately apparent. But scratch beneath the surface of top CPQ solutions like Epicor CPQ, and you’ll find a treasure trove of untapped potential that can revolutionize your manufacturing operations and drive tremendous business growth.

The Modern CPQ Process

Before diving into the benefits, here’s a quick recap of how market-leading CPQ tools work these days. Today’s top CPQ solutions take a visual approach to the configure price quote cpq process and drive automation across the whole engineer-to-order cycle. Below are the key steps.

1. Visual Product Configuration

Users configure products with a visual product configurator–an interactive tool that lets sales reps and customers design and visualize products in real-time using 3D models.

Manufacturers program their engineering and pricing rules into these configurators. These rules constrain the configuration and pricing process, eliminating errors.

Manufacturers have complete control over how their configurators work and who can use them. They can be for sales reps only or embedded into websites for customers to operate remotely in a self-serve experience. The latter is becoming the norm across many sectors.

2. Dynamic Pricing

As users configure products, top CPQ solutions calculate prices in real-time. This automation provides greater pricing clarity, control, and immediate feedback, enabling rapid decision-making that boosts conversion rates.

3. Instant Quoting

Instead of waiting for weeks for quotes and the necessary approvals, users can download quotes instantly, slashing sales cycles to a fraction of their former duration.

4. CAD and Design Automation

Top CPQ solutions also auto-generate CAD files, BOMs, CNC cut sheets, additive manufacturing files, and more in real-time, sending them to engineers for sign-off or routing them directly to the shop floor.

5. Customer Satisfaction

The customer’s product is configured to their unique requirements and shipped faster than expected. Everyone’s happy!

Game-Changing Benefits of Implementing a Top CPQ Tool

Here are some enormous CPQ benefits that some manufacturers don’t think about.

1. Improved ROI from Back-Office Systems

Top CPQ solutions integrate with other enterprise systems, such as ERP, CRM, CAD, and B2B eCommerce. They use APIs (application programming interfaces) to connect quickly and seamlessly without the risk of destabilizing the rest of the tech stack.

Epicor CPQ Brochure

The way that companies quote, sell, design and manufacture products has fundamentally changed. Epicor CPQ is different too, and this brochure distinguishes it from other CPQ solutions.

Once integrated, data flows freely, and manufacturers can leverage the full capabilities of their digital resources.

For instance, manufacturers who seamlessly integrate CRM with CPQ systems can tailor the visual product configuration experience by utilizing customer data. In turn, they can track user interactions with products within the configurator and incorporate this behavioral data back into the CRM.

Consequently, when a representative wishes to make contact, they can easily access information about the prospect’s product and option preferences, providing them with a valuable head start.

2. Localization and Globalization Support

CPQ solutions empower manufacturers to tailor product rules, pricing, and customer experiences according to specific user groups. These groups may encompass diverse sales channels, such as distributors, who may access different pricing structures compared to online customers. Furthermore, CPQ solutions facilitate customization for distinct markets or geographic territories, ensuring optimal experiences for each segment.

Manufacturers can localize their operations by adapting product offerings and pricing strategies to different markets, accommodating regional variations in currencies, languages, regulations, preferences, and social norms. Somewhat counterintuitively, this ability to localize helps manufacturers globalize, expanding into new markets and competing from Day One.

3. Increased Collaboration and Efficiency

Top CPQ solutions promote collaboration between sales, engineering, and the shop floor by breaking down silos and providing a single source of truth. Teams have access to the same information, enabling seamless coordination and communication.

Sales get visibility over the end-to-end engineering process. So if a customer reaches out for an update on their order, reps don’t have to call through to the shop floor. This seamless digital thread improves efficiency, reduces lead times, and enhances customer satisfaction.

4. Accelerated Data-Driven Decision-Making

A single source of truth for manufacturing and related data provides a wealth of information for informed decision-making. Manufacturers can analyze how customers interact with visual product configurators, which options are best-sellers, and what messaging is most effective. They can use this data to spot trends, design better products, and give sales reps the information they need to increase win rates.

5. Increased Deal Size

CPQ and CRM integration helps manufacturers identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities by analyzing customer preferences, purchase history, and user interaction with the configurator. This analysis enables manufacturers to offer targeted recommendations, increasing deal sizes and improving customer satisfaction.

6. Strengthened Compliance and Governance

Manufacturers can code industry regulations and internal policies into their configurators through product rules, ensuring all products and quotes adhere to guidelines. This reduces the risk of non-compliance, which can result in penalties and reputational damage. It can also avoid rework costs and minimize warranty claims.

7. Effortless Scalability 

The manufacturing industry has been disrupted recently with fluctuating demand, soaring costs, and supply chain disturbance. The modern manufacturer has to be agile. They must ramp up production rapidly without compromising quality and protect themselves in downtime by reducing fixed costs.

Top CPQ solutions automate the most time-consuming steps in the engineer-to-order process, allowing manufacturers to expand their operations when times are good and scale back when times are bad–all without having to hire or lay off staff or invest in new software or infrastructure is unnecessary.

8. Greater Environmental Sustainability

CPQ’s automation abilities drive greater consistency and accuracy, which reduces errors and waste. Poor configurations (often the fault of new hires) lead to wasted materials, energy, and carbon emissions.

Top CPQ solutions help manufacturers reduce their environmental impact, leading to a more sustainable future. But it’s not just the environment that benefits. The business does too. Here’s how:

  • Governments are imposing stricter environmental regulations, especially around emissions. Failure to adhere can lead to fines and additional tax liabilities. By reducing their carbon footprint, manufacturers can get ahead of the game.
  • Attracting exceptional manufacturing talent has become increasingly challenging. The industry needs more qualified candidates, as younger generations are less drawn to manufacturing careers while the Baby Boomer majority approaches retirement. To stand out in this competitive labor market, manufacturers must prioritize sustainability. Working for a company committed to sustainability is paramount for the younger generation.
  • If you want to work with your industry’s forward-thinking companies, you must prioritize sustainability. Companies want to partner with manufacturers that share their environmental values and can strengthen their reputation as sustainable businesses.
  • Customers are prioritizing sustainability as well. As end customers turn away from unsustainable products, your green credentials could be a significant selling point and differentiator.

9. Boosted Engineering Efficiency

Engineers are bogged down in transactional work. This is especially true of companies selling complex configurable products. The engineering team must produce drawings and CAD files whenever a sales rep needs a quote. This is incredibly dull, time-consuming, and frustrating because the configurations they receive from the sales team are often littered with errors and inconsistencies.

Fewer people talk about how top CPQ solutions make life easier for under-pressure engineering teams. Much of the focus on CPQ is on how these solutions improve sales performance and efficiency. For many manufacturers, however, the engineering impact is often their biggest win, leading to faster launches of higher quality, more innovative products.

Top CPQ solutions supercharge engineering efficiency in two ways:

  • The configurations that come down the pike from sales are guaranteed to be error-free–they’ve already been validated by the configurator using the engineering knowledge programmed into the system in the form of product rules.
  • CPQ auto-generates CAD files for every configuration, saving a tremendous amount of time.

Freed from the drudgery of endless CAD creation, engineers can focus on more valuable tasks like designing better products that make their company more competitive and drive customer loyalty.

10. Higher Employee Satisfaction and Retention

Eliminating repetitive work, letting employees focus on higher-value tasks, and empowering them to achieve their full potential is the only way to keep hold of your best and brightest employees in a fiercely competitive labor market.

The streamlining and automation of CPQ software make engineers more creative and sales reps more productive and engaged. Reps can focus on building customer relationships instead of struggling through complex configurations and pricing calculations.

Connecting CPQ with your other back-office systems eliminates much of the mind-numbing back-and-forth that slows everything down and drives everyone nuts!

11. Faster Onboarding of New Hires

Onboarding new hires is more complex and time-consuming than ever. Customers demand greater customization possibilities, which puts pressure on the sales and engineering teams. Moreover, products are becoming more technical, further steepening the learning curve.

Top CPQ solutions automate sales, getting new hires up to speed fast. They also have guided selling capabilities, which help sales reps or customers navigate the complex sales process by providing prompts and scripts that guide them through.

12. Streamlined Product Lifecycle Management

Cutting-edge CPQ solutions enable manufacturers to introduce new products and retire obsolete ones seamlessly. The product catalog can be updated centrally, disseminating updates throughout the organization using configurators.

Adding new product options is a breeze, facilitated by immersive 3D visuals that eliminate the need for cumbersome explanations and lengthy product descriptions. Manufacturers can swiftly adapt to evolving customer preferences, competitor dynamics, and changes in the broader economic landscape, ensuring maximum agility and competitiveness.

13. Simplified Adoption of Industry 4.0 Technologies

Manufacturers with actual digital capabilities are incorporating multiple Industry 4.0 technologies into their tech stacks. Top CPQ solutions can ease the implementation and adoption of the most impactful of these technologies. Below are some examples.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality has dramatically impacted the manufacturing industry with various use cases, including assembly, maintenance, training, QC, and compliance. Top CPQ solutions can easily incorporate augmented reality capabilities, enhancing customer engagement by providing interactive product demonstrations and enabling customers to visualize configurations in real-world situations.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has had less of an impact on the manufacturing industry to date, but it’s currently undergoing a renaissance, with the necessary VR headsets becoming more accessible and affordable. VR configurators let customers configure and experience products in a virtual environment, identifying potential issues before production begins and changes become expensive.

Mixed Reality

Mixed reality–a technology combining VR and AR elements–is set to be the next big wave in immersive tech. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, wants to build his legacy on his mixed-reality headset, with other B2B and B2C’s sure to follow suit. Cloud-based CPQs like Epicor CPQ can integrate seamlessly with upcoming mixed reality platforms using APIs, letting you get ahead of the competition.

Cloud Computing

Top CPQ solutions operate in the cloud, utilizing a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model to offer numerous advantages. These include:

  • Lower Up-Front Costs: You don’t need to invest in expensive hardware to run cloud-based CPQ solutions, which means they have lower up-front costs. The pay-as-you-go pricing model keeps costs more manageable and predictable.
  • Lower TCO: The total cost of ownership (TCO) of cloud CPQ is considerably lower than on-prem. The vendor manages and maintains your solution, updating and fixing bugs. For smaller companies with limited IT resources, this is a huge benefit.
  • Rapid Implementation: With no need for hardware installation, your business can be up and running instantly, reducing time to value.
  • Improved Scalability: Cloud CPQ solutions are easily scalable. You can expand or contract usage on demand and pay as you go.
  • Enhanced Security: Cloud CPQ solutions tend to be more secure as vendors invest in the latest and most advanced security measures, including data encryption and strict access controls. Automatic backups and disaster recovery protect your business in case of system failures, guaranteeing business continuity.
  • Accessibility: Cloud-based CPQ solutions are available in your browser, enabling employees to access the solution on-the-go through any internet-connected device.
  • Future-proof: Cloud-based CPQ solutions constantly evolve with new updates and features rolling out automatically. This helps you adapt to technology trends and provide your customers with cutting-edge digital experiences. Better integration with other cloud applications allows you to implement and integrate new solutions when they launch.

Additive Manufacturing

Top CPQ solutions can auto-generate additive manufacturing files and route them directly to 3D printers on the shop floor. This enables true end-to-end automation, whereby the customer configures a product remotely, places their order, and their product is manufactured immediately, all without a human touch.

14. Optimized Pricing for Maximum Margins

CPQ solutions calculate prices in real-time (dynamic pricing), providing instant pricing feedback so buyers can make well-informed on-the-spot purchase decisions. But top CPQ solutions do more than calculate prices fast; they price them intelligently.

Leading CPQ software can access material costs, shipping costs, labor rates, and competitor behavior into their quoted prices. This lets manufacturers adjust to market fluctuations, provide timely promotions, and maximize margins from every deal without sacrificing sales volume.

The Bottom Line: CPQ Companies Provide So Much More

We all know CPQ for streamlining product configuration, pricing, and quotes. Only some people are aware of the benefits that lie beyond these core functions. These hidden advantages are equally powerful, from increasing environmental sustainability to boosting employee retention, product lifecycle management, and more.