What does a best-in-class Quote-to-Cash solution look like?
We posed this question to Erwan Kerebel on the latest episode of B2B Reimagined. As the senior director of product management for Quote-to-Cash Solutions at Salesforce, Kerebel spends a considerable amount of time speaking with B2B companies on all the challenges and opportunities within the quote-to-cash process.
He first directed us to the three primary challenges that B2B companies run into and often turn to a Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) product to solve. They are:
Quote turnaround time: “In today’s world, we all have expectations that are set by what we see on the internet … in many businesses the faster you get the quote out the door, the more likely you’ll get the deal.”
Getting price right: “It’s often hard to find the right balance between optimizing the chance of winning the deal and optimizing the profit margin for your company. We need to find the balance and make it repeatable.”
Accuracy in payment terms and product selection: “If you make a mistake at the time of quoting, and you deliver the wrong product, then you start getting issues collecting your invoices. Your margins are going to go down.”
There are a number of ways that companies have chosen to address these three challenges, to varying degrees of success. Often, companies start with silos between their people, processes and systems. Many embark on a quote-to-cash improvement effort by placing emphasis on people and processes, but the systems are held together with “duct-tape solutions.” These solutions, often anchored by spreadsheets, fall short due to user experience issues, lack of collaborative functionality, reliance on manual work and the version control problems inherent to traditional spreadsheets.
The end result too often is a system that is too labor-intensive, time-intensive and error-prone.
So, to revisit our original question, how does a company achieve a best-in-class CPQ/quote-to-cash solution? Here’s Kerebel’s take:
"At the core, in my mind lies a very solid foundation. This is critical to being successful implementing a quote-to-cash solution. By that I mean the product catalog needs to be designed the right way, it needs to be customer-centric, and not engineering-centric. So, it needs to make it easy for customers and salespeople to find the right combination of products. The second aspect of that foundation is pricing. Pricing needs to be customer-centric and the pricing master needs to be designed in a way that makes it easy for pricing to be updated.
Once we have that solid foundation, then we can think about exposing that product catalog and pricing master, not only in CPQ for salespeople, but also deploy this for partners, resellers and customers in a self-service portal. The next element is the need to optimize the user experience to achieve the goal of helping salespeople produce quotes fast. Quote-to-cash implementations only become best-in-class when you have all of the salespeople actually using the system You have to make sure that the products that are being recommended and the prices that are being calculated and recommended are relevant for the salespeople and they trust those numbers.”
Kerebel and host Lindsay Duran, Zilliant chief marketing officer, then dive deeper into how to make this ideal implementation a reality, showcasing customer success stories, the benefits of price optimization integrated into CPQ and the return-on-investment potential of a strong CPQ solution. They wrapped up the show with a look into the crystal ball, shedding light on future trends they are anticipating in the B2B space.