To set the stage for this week’s podcast, host Barrett Thompson, general manager of commercial excellence at Zilliant, cites an eye-popping stat from Gartner:
Digital commerce platforms now account for 45% of organizations’ revenue and Gartner expects that 75% of B2B manufacturers will sell directly to customers online by 2025.
There are many ramifications inherent in that projection, including how the manufacturer-distributor relationship is likely to transform. In this episode, however, we focus strictly on the impacts to the manufacturing sector stemming from this buying and selling paradigm shift.
Helping us get to the bottom of it is an excellent guest, Prashant Garg from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Prashant has more than 25 years of experience working with manufacturers to optimize complex configurations and pricing decisions. As an enterprise architect at TCS with a specialization in Quote-to-Cash, Prashant works daily to shepherd manufacturers through the digital gauntlet of modern business.
CPQ: From Nice-to-Have to Necessity
In their wide-ranging conversation, a key theme Barrett and Prashant return to often is the rise of CPQ as a competitive differentiator for most B2B manufacturers. The consequences of this rapid digitization of buyer behavior are many, including the expectation for faster quote turnaround time, elimination of pricing errors, and rational product recommendations at the point of transaction.
Barrett and Prashant have seen many companies flail when trying to meet these demands with spreadsheets or outdated commercial software. The accuracy, speed and scale necessary to win business online and secure customer loyalty simply cannot be met without a modern CPQ, often complemented via REST API by price optimization and other add-on solutions.
Prashant shares one especially poignant example of an appliance company whose many product configurations outpaced the majority of the sales team’s ability to keep up. He explained:
“They had only two sales reps that had that knowledge of how those appliances can be configured for a particular customer. So any time they had to create a quote they had to go to these experts and there was a one- to two-week turnaround…I sat down with these two people to bring all their knowledge on paper, and we digitized it to create a rule-based configuration that allows the team to create a quote in minutes.”