How CPQ Helped Blackboard Overhaul Its Sales Process

Russ Chadinha

Faced with new acquisitions and a changing business model, Blackboard needed new capabilities to manage these massive changes. For Blackboard, the world’s leading education technology company, the solution was to re-architect its ERP and CRM systems and add Configure, Price, Quote(CPQ) technology.

Blackboard provides learning technology for higher education and K-12 institutions, corporate organizations and government agencies around the world. If you’ve attended college in the past couple of decades, you’ve probably filed class assignments through Blackboard’s online portals. While Blackboard strives to streamline the learning experience, the company has faced its own challenges in managing a complex environment.

During a recent acquisition phase, Blackboard was buying new companies to create a comprehensive portfolio of products and solutions. But this growing portfolio was also becoming increasingly complex, with disconnected infrastructure creating problems for the sales team.

As a result of the patchwork created by the acquisitions, some accounts required multiple salespeople with different specializations. Each rep would have expertise with a certain group of products, but no one was able to provide the customer with comprehensive access to all product lines.

At the same time, Blackboard was changing its business model from delivering shrink-wrapped software to a cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. This change required dramatic shifts in the company’s infrastructure and marketing strategy. With CPQ, Blackboard has been able to combine all of its products and services into one catalog and integrate guided selling capabilities into the sales process. This solution provides support for reps that lack experience with the new products, helping reps understand them, and making suggestions and connections that move engagements forward.

CPQ allows a single sales rep to be more efficient and effective with Blackboard’s larger portfolio. Since the sales process no longer requires additional conversations with people from other specializations, reps move opportunities through the sales pipeline much more quickly and efficiently.

While CPQ offers powerful tools for increasing your sales velocity, in order to truly improve efficiency at each touch point, you also need the ability to quickly deliver pricing intelligence to your reps. By integrating pricing guidance solutions with your CPQ system, you provide reps with a fact-based starting point for negotiations and the tools to make informed decisions that drive new revenue and margin.

The pricing guidance needs to be developed from a fact-based methodology that looks at buying attributes, finds those that are truly significant, segments the customers in like groups and then provides pricing guidance based on this complete picture for each customer.

In addition to pricing guidance, these segmentation capabilities provide a solid understanding of customer behavior, revealing hidden opportunities for additional revenue and margin, such as identifying customers who are being charged less than their peer group for the same products. Also, it helps identify additional products to introduce to a customer, based on the buying behavior of others in their segment.

Pricing guidance based on segmentation combined with CPQ gives sales reps the tools needed to identify the right opportunities and quickly create a targeted solution. This technology empowers your sales team to become more efficient and productive, ensuring that sales opportunities are constantly moving forward with both your existing customers and new prospects.

Ready to learn more about using CPQ and pricing guidance to improve your sales process? Download our free e-book , “5 Ways CPQ Keeps Your Sales Pipeline Moving.”

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