What Manufacturers Should Look for in CPQ

CPQ Tools: 7 Things Manufacturing Companies Should Look For

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    CPQ help manufacturers close more big deals more quickly. It’s no surprise then that the CPQ market grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20% from 2016 to 2020. Still, many are slow to adopt.

    Whether for fear of the unknown or stubbornness to change, the truth is that as a manufacturing business, you can’t afford to wait any longer. CPQ software makes mass customization easy. And tailoring products to the needs of each individual customer is soon to be table stakes across many industries.

    But before you just hop on the bandwagon, know that not all CPQ tools are created equal. There are some necessary features you should look for. This is where we step in to help.

    Keep reading for seven things to look for in your CPQ tool so that you can get started on the right foot.

    Essential Points:

    • Why CPQ?
    • 7 Things Manufacturing Companies Should Look for in CPQ Tools
    • Final Thoughts

    Why CPQ?

    Configure, price, quote (CPQ) software solutions help businesses automate the quoting and proposal process. Automation begins when a customer reaches out to fulfill a product need and ends when the final, customized quote is sent to said customer.

    CPQ tools are powerful for manufacturing because they shorten the sales cycle, eliminate human error, improve customer relations, and boost conversion rates by 40%. Plus, as we said earlier, they facilitate mass customization and, critically, make it profitable.

    7 Features Manufacturers Should Look for in a CPQ Tool

    1.     Handles Complex Product Rules

    The whole point of using a CPQ tool is to create a streamlined sales process that allows your company to sell more, quicker. And having an automated system that takes the bulk of the work off salespeople’s shoulders makes that happen.

    A robust rules engine contains all the logic required to sell a configurable product. It takes designs for highly complex products and spits out optimized configurations, options, and pricing.

    You’re in trouble if the rules engine on your CPQ software solution of choice isn’t powerful enough to cope with your technical products. If it struggles, you might as well stick to your sales reps instead of wasting even more time and money trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

    Another crucial factor is how easy it is to maintain your rules engine. Do you have to go back to your CPQ vendor each time you add a new product option, or can you create and maintain your rules in-house? Epicor CPQ has a no-code rules engine that can be maintained internally by non-technical employees.

    2.     Customer-Facing Configurator

    If your manufacturing business runs an eCommerce site, you already know the importance of allowing customers to self-serve in real-time. It’s part of simplifying the customer experience, which increases your online sales.

    You need a CPQ tool with a customer-facing product configurator to enable self-serve and future-proof your sales channels. One that can be embedded into your eCommerce website to be used by visitors.

    Plenty of CPQ tools don’t allow users to embed the configurator into an external website, meaning everything has to be done internally. This shortcoming leads to a longer sales cycle, higher return rates, and lower customer satisfaction.

    3.     Integrations with Other Business Platforms

    Most sales teams are running multiple software solutions throughout the selling process. Your CPQ tool has to integrate seamlessly with all of them, most importantly your ERP and CRM. This “interoperability” provides a smooth end-to-end experience and a single source of truth that improves efficiency and visibility.

    4.     3D/AR/VR Capabilities

    Some CPQ tools are limited to text-based configurators. Others are 2D–they use flat renderings to show customers what their order will look like.

    To provide a fully immersive buying experience, you need product configurators that come with 3D, augmented reality (AR), or virtual reality (VR) capabilities. These functionalities let users add components, rotate products, and dynamically explore all angles in real-time.

    Having 3D configurators boosts sales. Adding AR and VR into the mix further strengthens your case as users can “test-drive” products in “real” and virtual settings.

    5.     CAD and Design Automation

    Automating the creation of cut sheets, proposals, CAD drawings, BOMs, and more clears engineering bottlenecks and shortens sales cycles.

    Auto-generated drawings not only allow the manufacturing floor to see exactly what they need to build, but it also frees up engineering time to devote to more creative tasks.

    Plus, with a solid rules-driven configuration, only valid options are sent to production. This further cuts down on endless back-and-forth with customers or your sales team.

    6.     Solid Customer Service (On Both Sides)

    Customers no longer value product over experience. Excellent customer service and a frictionless path to purchase are a must for any business that wants to stay afloat. (Unsurprisingly, 96% of customers will leave for lousy customer service.) Ensure your CPQ tool provides industry-leading convenience, flexibility, and responsiveness to both online and offline buyers.

    At the same time, when choosing your CPQ tool, make sure that it not only ticks all the boxes for product features but that you feel comfortable with their customer support team. Are they highly knowledgeable about the product? Are they responsive? Do they answer you promptly? How do you feel after communicating with them?

    Trust your gut. While it may not seem important at first, your relationship with the CPQ tool’s customer support team could make or break your overall experience (especially if you run into product issues).

    7.     Industry Leader

    Having best-in-class customer service is only part of the equation. The other part is finding a CPQ software solution that’s an industry leader with a strong community behind it.

    When picking your CPQ tool, find out their track record. Lurk the reviews on G2 and read case studies. Do your due diligence to see if the company has what it takes to help you reach your full potential.

    Moving Forward

    This list of things to look for in your next CPQ tool is not exhaustive. But it will give you a solid foundation for finding a solution tailored to your needs–one that will grow with you and your business.

    There’s no right or wrong CPQ software. All have pros and cons. All have loyal brand advocates and dissatisfied customers. All have saved their clients thousands upon thousands of dollars.

    Just go into the search with your checklist and an open mind. What’s most important is that you just get started automating the entire CPQ process. From there, it’ll be smooth sailing.

    Emily Stevens

    Emily Stevens

    Emily is a marketing professional with knowledge across branding, digital strategy, and creative content. She enjoys educating her audience on the benefits of products and how their ease and use can help with efficiency and problem solving.