With the world of sales being as dynamic of a market as we’re seeing, businesses need to stay on top of their commerce offerings to remain competitive. For discerning buyers in a dense market, experience-based eCommerce sites and supportive, efficient backend systems can be the determining factors in which companies end up getting clientele.
To keep things trending upward and maintain a factor of agility in a dynamic market, you want to ensure your underlying CPQ system is in alignment with your overall commerce strategy.
And while there may not be a picture-perfect CPQ to address each and every business need, there are absolutely ways to leverage a proper system to cover the majority of your use cases while leaving room for personalization and scalable expansion down the line.
Here, we’ll shine a spotlight on the main things you’ll want to consider to ensure your CPQ and commerce strategies are properly aligned, along with some opportunities for advancement to keep on your radar.
Know Your Audience
A successful commerce strategy is reverse engineered – to put it together, you need to have a clear selling focus and target demographic before anything else.
The nice thing about CPQ is that it can be applied to just about any industry in need; so, whether you’re a school administrator looking to leverage the system to coordinate bus rentals for district-wide field trips or a large-scale manufacturer with sales BOMs on the mind, there’s a way the tech can work for you.
Your audience may have unique needs they would like to see accommodated, which can influence the development of your strategy. For example, a recent Gartner study found that 44% of millennials prefer B2B sales encounters that do not actually require talking to a rep directly.
If your strategy for a millennial-focused audience was to invest in and expand upon training and staffing for your reps without doing the same for your website’s eCommerce page, such a missed opportunity leaves a non-negligible buyer bloc on the table. TrustRadius describes the overall B2B tech market composition as 60% millennials in 2021, with millennials being the outright majority of lead buyers for deals up to $100k. With this, more and more legacy systems are being forgone in favor of newer, future-proof CPQ that closer resembles the ideal experience and supports higher-stakes sales.
Buyers subject to old-school methods suffer what Forbes refers to as “digital fatigue,” a leading factor in the market shift toward businesses with newer, more innovative digital commerce offerings.
But while certain demographics may have preferences that differ from group to group in terms of buying method, there is an overarching expectation to the collective buyer experience: an accurately-priced, quickly fulfilled order process.
Understand the System Requirements
Buyers, along with admin personas, have ever-expanding lists of non-negotiables for their CPQ and commerce setups. Failing to take those into account as you develop and expand all but solidifies your role on the roster of has-beens.
For buyers, the trend of “consumerization,” – in which B2C preferences bleed over into B2B scenarios – yields high desires for custom configuration options, strong visual design and navigability for websites, few-touch purchase capacity and reduced sales rep interaction. Luckily, a proper CPQ can help with almost all of these in some capacity.
On the admin side, growing demands put remarkable strain on existing CPQ platforms, which may require weeks’ worth of labor to tweak and reskin in attempts to match market growth. Buyers are asking for system capacities that could never have been anticipated five, 10 or 20 years in the past, putting legacy systems in a sunset-favorable spot.
New system implementation comes with its own set of costs and requirements, but better future-proofs the company as a whole. Gartner projects that by 2025, 80% of all B2B buyer-supplier sales will occur through digital channels. Think about trying to sustain an entire business offline, or with limited digital sales capacity, off of just the 20% leftover – near impossible, and an avoidable, unnecessary struggle.
One point in particular that supports the move to newer CPQ offerings is their move away from custom coding, historically required to make any notable changes to the process. Removing the custom code in favor of more preset configurables reduces necessary admin power to actually get the changes into the system and deploys changes faster than via manual methods.
Planted firmly in the center of a Venn Diagram covering the ground between buyer and admin personas is the need for an easily-generated, correct quote to come out of the experience and lead to a closed sale. A shared end helps keep both sides of strategy close enough to balance.
If a quote is generated in an exorbitant amount of time, or with an inaccurate total amount, there is almost no way to course correct in a way that still closes the sale and ends with a satisfied customer. According to DemandBlue, 76% of consumers will stop doing business with a brand after only one negative customer experience.
It may seem harsh, but in an environment as competitive as today’s, buyers are not obligated to tolerate anything that misses their expectations (however high they may initially be set).
Guided Selling and Visualization
Not to be excluded in the conversation of commerce strategy, additional resources like guided selling techniques and digital visualization, either in 2D or 3D, can add direct value.
We’ve discussed guided selling before, which is a functionality that can be utilized by sales reps or self-service eCommerce customers to provide an augmented, personalized selling experience. Toolkits incorporate into CPQ, then bridge between product and buyer.
Guided selling incorporates both customer and product data to create a set of queries or prompts through which the buyer navigates. With more and more data and specification resulting from each answer, guided selling gets the buyer to their optimized configuration in a quick and easy manner.
Calling back to overall buyer preferences, guided selling enhances the personalized, customizable experience most clients are looking for, and provides reassurance to the buyer that their needs are truly being met, not just matched to the closest pre-configured bundle.
Branching off the guided selling experience, there has been a recent boom in the use of visualizers that work in tandem with configurators to provide a real-time, viewable representation of a buyer’s order specifications. Even though the convenience, accessibility and agility of digital commerce is undeniable, buyers will still want a representation of what they’re working with. Our partner Threekit is a leader in this field, specializing in 3D renderings for just about any sales need.
A commonly seen example of such renderings can be found on major car retail websites. 3D visualizers allow prospective customers to sort through makes and models of available inventory, click between paint colors and tire sizes, and spin through a 360 rendering that updates along with product input. Here is where a buyer can engage with all of the configurations they want, outside of a direct sales setting, and submit the order for final fulfillment once they see their happy balance of variables and prices on screen.
It isn’t difficult to keep your CPQ and commerce strategy aligned. All it takes is a finger intentionally kept on the sales industry’s pulse, and a dedication to providing the best for your buyers, wherever their interests may lie. Logik.io Commerce Engine is here to help, as the world’s leading headless configurator, supercharging the “C” of CPQ. To learn more about what our system can do for you and yours, or to learn more about partners like Threekit, head to our main site at www.logik.io.