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Why its a "when" not "if” for Service Provider adoption of Configure Price Quote (CPQ) 4 min

Providers are facing a time of rapid change as a result of unprecedented innovation, business complexity and increased expectations. This coupled with a drive to increase revenues and profit while scaling efficiently, increasing productivity and delivering great client service is no simple task.

Business leaders need to ensure their staff have a working environment that enables success, we all know this goes deeper than a process or template adjustment, office refit or new lick of paint.

Delivering on this is a cross-departmental challenge that can be split into two halves.

A. Product through Sales and Client account management Quote to Order

B. service delivery and operations through to Cash, both linked and underpinned by core business operation, process and systems.

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the first “Product through Sales and Client account management Quote to Order”. Getting this half right pays dividends for the second half, getting it wrong results in heroic unsustainable work levels to maintain quality client service or a faltering reactive operation struggling to achieve quality client service, leading to competitive Client renewals which then comes back to challenge the first half. Obviously, this can be a vicious cycle leading to sub-optimal performance, while falling behind the competition.

What are the tell-tale signs to look for?

Product Management

· Lack of a current portfolio with lots of on the fly per deal product and service development

· Reactive product management

· Lack of standard solutions or solution blueprints to accelerate

· Inflexible and unfit for purpose packaging for sale

· Lack of sales, up-sell and cross-sell guidance

· Poorly maintained standard portfolios, vendor parts cost and pricing

· Struggling to monetise cloud managed services while making vendors wealthy

Sales, Pre-sales technical and Client Account Management

· Poor time to quote, quality of quotes, client feedback and NPS scores

· Lack of standards, clarity and guidance on offerings

· Sales burdened with manual administration and order processing

· Poor sales pipeline reporting

· Lack of a central record of entitlement (service and commercial)

· Inability to efficiently manage client solution change life-cycle management

· Burdened by complex error-prone spreadsheets or home-grown pricing systems, resulting in multiple complicated data sources in order to quote a deal

· Friction ridden processes with lack of unification across business units

Service Delivery, Operations to cash

· Unable to automate delivery from order data, poor inconsistent specification of works

· Unclear on standards, lack of automation, reliance on unsustainable heroic’s

· Lack of clarity regarding client service entitlement

· Problematic feeds to and manual intensive billing operations

Why use a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) system?

· Accelerate sales, enable, inform, guide via quality sales packaging and unburden via automating low-value administration

· Reduce time to quote, errors and omissions, eliminate re-keying of data into quotes, orders, proposals and statement of works

· Standardise portfolio of products, services and vendor/supplier offerings

· Simplify the complex, produce solution templates and blueprints

· Automate quality branded output for clients and service delivery

· Automate sales administration and improve sales pipeline and revenue reporting

· Better Integrate your CRM with your ERP and service delivery

· Better enable and reconnect product management with sales

· Consolidate, centralise and well-structured portfolio of offerings

· Unify process and operating model, guide sales, improve cross and up-sell

· Modularise portfolio for reusable standard products and services

· Take advantage of CPQ advancements, as an example

o Automated vendor catalogues integrated with your distributors

o Linkage with hyperscale cloud i.e. AWS, Azure etc

o Future of Artificial intelligence providing meaningful added value

o Structured data sources for automation of delivery and business intelligence

· Improved product life-cycle, cost and price management

· Systemised online sales quote approvals

· Controls and methods for selling of non-standard products and services

· Better manage design change and client solution life-cycle management

· Focus your people on where it counts, not developing and maintaining complex spreadsheets or homegrown CPQ systems

· Spreadsheets are not dead, but use them where they count, see Why service providers are looking beyond excel for CPQ

General advice in moving forward

· Step back and take an internal look at your product through Configure Price Quote to Cash capability, is it enabling your people to be successful, will it scale or will it/is it holding you back?, are you experiencing any of the problems above?

· Make it a subject for senior leadership to discuss, consider your business strategy and growth plans

· Look for a champion within your leadership team who cares and will bring your organisation with them in change, ensure they are well connected, resourced and have a good level of senior support

· Assign a business sponsor from your executive team, ensuring priority and targets are well established

· With stakeholders build a vision with a supporting business case, phase delivery, consider external advice and expertise

· Carefully select your CPQ provider, get advice from specialists, there are generalist’s volume players and niche industry specific providers, look at high performers in G2crowd and research Novus CPQ. Be sure to understand their strategy and road-map, how well do they understand your industry.

· Consider a scoped time limited proof of concept using a real-world scenario, test your providers understanding or your business and how well fit the product is. is product through CPQ to cash consultancy focused on helping technology-focused service providers and MSPs better perform.

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