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How Services CPQ Helps Close Revenue Gaps

How Services CPQ Helps Close Revenue Gaps

Bottom Line: Professional services (PS) organizations need to close the gaps in their CPQ selling strategies to win more deals, capture more revenue and protect margins from ongoing price pressure.

Why Services CPQ Is Too Slow Today

When PS organizations compete in sales cycles, the first competitor to have a complete quote with accurate pricing, schedules, and an engagement plan will often win. However, getting a complete quote out fast is a major challenge for most PS organizations today. Many PS organizations manually create their quotes by taking into account a broad base of factors that include the following: talent profiles of employees and the market value of their skills; utilization rates; direct and indirect engagement costs; typical gross margins by type of engagement; and, competitive pricing. The average PS organization takes six weeks to deliver a quote or proposal. John Ragsdale’s excellent recent article Automating Services Quote-to-Cash: Emergence of CPQ for Services provides useful insights into what needs to change for PS quoting and selling to increase its velocity.

Getting Services CPQ Right Is Hard

Gaps that drain revenue and margin grow wider when PS organizations attempt to use product-centric CPQ platforms to sell services. Too often, PS organizations attempt to wedge their quoting, pricing, and revenue management into a product-based CPQ system – and get mediocre results at best. Earlier in my career, I led a product management team that defined, created, and launched a quoting system for professional services inside a large IT organization. The most valuable lessons learned from that experience include the following:

  • PS bundles only work if they have simple, solid direct cost structures. Adding a synthetic SKU that represents a PS bundle only works for the most simple, automated PS engagements. Think of those PS engagements with long-standing direct cost structures that are simple, clear and easy to implement. Attempting to group PS bundles can easily lead to quoting mistakes that drain margin when a product-centric CPQ system is used for PS.
  • The greater the differences in PS revenue management, the more the need for a new CPQ platform. Many PS organizations are making a mistake by attempting to make product-centric CPQ platforms work for their unique costing, pricing, and selling needs. My team and I learned that the more a PS revenue model is unique and one-of-a-kind, the more it requires a unique CPQ platform.
  • Getting product-based CPQ rules and constraint logic right is hard in PS. Our teams’ biggest challenge in recycling IT’s CPQ app for PS was how difficult it was to get the rules-based engine to work for the wide variety of variables in a common service engagement. Rules created for transaction velocity needed to be reworked for greater variety. PS engagements didn’t follow a common logic structure like a product, making the constraint logic code only somewhat usable.
  • Only launch after CRM and Revenue Management integration is complete. Our team was handed a project that had languished in IT for nearly a year because PS selling teams wouldn’t use it. The problem was that the quoting module ran batch updates to a series of databases to get customer records and fetch the latest price tables off of a mainframe. In addition, CPQ wasn’t connected in real-time to CRM or Revenue Management.

Closing Long-Standing Services CPQ Gaps

The more a Services CPQ app can close the gaps between CRM, PSA, Revenue Management, and CPQ apps and their workflows, the more effective it will be stopping margin and revenue leakage. Having APIs that share data in real-time between CRM, PSA, and Revenue Management within each quote creation session has the potential to save thousands of hours a year. FinancialForce’s recently announced Services CPQ shows how a platform-based integration strategy works. The following graphic shows how revenue potential increases as a Services CPQ’s systems become more integrated.

How Services CPQ Helps Close Revenue Gaps

FinancialForce’s approach to taking on the challenge of providing an enterprise-grade Services CPQ is noteworthy for several reasons, including the following:

  • Real-time visibility and control of Services CPQ Effectiveness. Having Services CPQ, PSA and Revenue Management on the same Salesforce platform provides the visibility and control PS sales managers need to track quoting effectiveness by program, geography, customer segment, and rep. The more real-time the data integration across these systems the greater the potential for revenue growth in existing accounts and winning new ones.
  • Changing professional services quotes in real-time without impacting sales cycles is possible. Due to the integrated design of Services CPQ, one change made anywhere on a quote will replicate through the entire system and change all related factors immediately.
  • Getting in control of professional services engagement dates and utilization rates by associates helps reduce time-to-market and assures better time-to-customer performance. Keeping track of the myriad of factors that influence a services quote using a manually-based process is too slow for how quickly engagements are decided. Instead, having a single, unified data model that can track effectiveness and provide updates on how they impact engagement project plans is needed to excel at selling with Services CPQ. Adopting an agile CPQ strategy that relies on an integration thread to unify all systems is the secret to scaling and selling more with an agile approach to services CPQ.
  • Pricing needs to be one of the core strengths in an integrated Services CPQ platform. Realizing how a customers’ requested changes to a professional services engagement will impact costs and margins gives PS teams with an integrated system a formidable pricing advantage. FinancialForce’s approach to solving the Services CPQ challenge shows the potential to take on this challenge and provide its PS customers with the insights they need to upsell engagements – and not lose margin doing it.
  • A must-have for any Services CPQ platform is support for channel partner collaboration and team quoting. For any Services CPQ to scale up and deliver its full potential value, there needs to be support for customizing partner selling experiences while providing for team selling and quoting. FinancialForce solves this by relying on the Salesforce platform. By closing the gaps between the systems Services CPQ relies on, the channel selling teams and partners gain greater flexibility in defining customized products.

Conclusion

Services CPQ needs to scale out on a platform to achieve its full potential by providing the analytical insights to track engagement lifecycles and customer lifetime value by engagement. FinancialForce has proven they can do this in their Spring 2021 release. Taking on the most challenging aspects of a Services CPQ architecture starts by providing insights and guidance on how best to optimize the mix of associates and their utilization and billing rates, locations of each engagement, margin threshold levels, and the expected duration of each engagement. Additionally, the world’s leading professional services organizations could use an automated Services CPQ solution as many of them don’t rely on enough data, letting revenue leakage happen without knowing it.

 

Five Ways CPQ Is Revolutionizing Selling Today

CPQ, Salesforce CPQ, enosiX SAP to Salesforce Integration Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) continues to be one of the hottest enterprise apps today, fueled by the relentless need all companies have to increase sales while delivering customized orders profitably and accurately. Here are a few of the many results CPQ strategies are delivering today:

  • Companies relying on CPQ are growing profit margins at a 57% greater rate year-over-year compared to non-adopters.
  • 89% improvement in turning Special Pricing Requests (SPRs) into sales by automating them using a cloud-based CPQ system.
  • 67% reduction in reworked orders at a leading specialty vehicle manufacturer due to quotes reflecting exactly what customers wanted to buy.
  • 23% improvement in upsell and cross-sell revenue by having the CPQ system intelligently recommend the optimal product or service that has the highest probability of purchase and best possible gross margin.
  • CPQ strategies excel when they are designed to reach challenging selling, pricing, revenue and operational performance goals versus automating existing selling workflows.

Another factor fueling CPQs’ rapid growth is how quickly results of a pilot can be measured and used for launching a successful company-wide launch.  Pilots often concentrate on quote creation time, quoting accuracy, sales cycle reduction, automating Special Pricing Requests (SPRs), up-sells and cross-sells, perfect order performance, margin improvements and best of all, winning new customers. These are the baseline metrics many companies use to measure their CPQ performance. Throughout 2017 these metrics across industries are accelerating. There is a revolution going on in selling today.

5 Ways CPQ Is Revolutionizing Selling Today

Cloud- and SaaS-based CPQ solutions are quicker to implement, easier to customize to customers’ requirements, and available 24/7 on any Internet-enabled device, anytime. Many are designed to integrate into Salesforce, further accelerating adoption seamlessly.  The following five factors are the primary catalysts revolutionizing selling today:

  1. Designing in excellent user experiences (UX) is the new normal for CPQ apps – CPQ vendors are competing with the quality of user experiences they deliver in 2017, moving beyond packing every feature possible into app releases. This is having a corresponding impact on adoption, increasing the number of sales representatives and entire teams who can get up and running fast with a new CPQ app. The net result is reduced sales cycles, growing pipelines, and more sales reps actively using CPQ apps to increase their selling effectiveness.
  2. Integrating with legacy CRM, ERP and pricing systems in real-time are using service-oriented frameworks gives sales teams what they need to close deals faster – Legacy CPQ systems in the past often had very precise field mappings to 3rd party legacy CRM, ERP and pricing systems. They were brittle and would break very easily, slowing down sales cycles and making sales reps resort to manually-based approaches from decades before. In 2017 there are service-oriented frameworks that make brittle, easily broken mappings thankfully an integration practice in the past. With a loosely coupled service framework, real-time integration between CRM and ERP systems can be quickly be implemented and sales teams can get out and close more deals. Leaders in the area include enosiX, who are enabling their customers’ sales forces to enter sales orders into SAP directly from Salesforce, saving valuable selling time and increasing order accuracy.
  3. Competing for deals using Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and Intelligent Agents are force multipliers driving greater salesSalesforce’s Einstein is an example of the latest generation of AI applications that are enabling sales reps and teams to gain insights that weren’t available before. Combining customer data with these advanced predictive data analytics technologies yields insights into how selling strategies for different accounts can customize to specific prospect needs. Selling strategies are more effective and focused when AI, machine learning, and Intelligent Agents are designed in to guide quoting, pricing and product configuration in real-time.
  4. CPQ apps optimized for mobile devices are enabling sales reps to drastically reduce quote creation times, sales cycles and increase sales win rates – For many companies whose sales teams are in the field calling on accounts the majority of the time, mobile-based CPQ apps are how they get the majority of their work done. Salesforce’s Force.com is one of the leading platforms CPQ software companies are relying on to create mobile apps, further capitalizing on the already-established levels of familiarity sales teams have with the Salesforce platform.
  5. The vision many companies have of synchronizing multichannel and omnichannel selling as part of their CPQ strategies is now attainable – One of the greatest challenges of expanding sales channels is ensuring a consistently high-quality customer experience across each. With on-premise CPQ, CRM and ERP selling systems, this is very challenging as there are often multiple database systems supporting each. This is a breakout year for omnichannel selling as cloud-based CPQ systems and the platforms they are built on can securely scale across all selling channels a company chooses to launch. Being able to track which CPQ deals emanated from which marketing program, and which channels are the most effective in closing sales is now possible.
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