Swimming Downstream: How Contract Management Complements CPQ and Frictionless Commerce

Sean Cassidy

In recent years, configure, price, quote (CPQ) has moved to the forefront in the arsenal of sales force automation tools available to sellers. The benefits of CPQ are very easy to identify: increased sales velocity, faster time to market with new products and promotions, easier sales rep onboarding, and with smarter variants of CPQ – guided selling, pricing guidance, and intelligent cross-sell/upsell. All of these benefits help reduce sales friction and improve revenue and profit realization.

For some types of businesses, particularly B2C transactions, the sales cycle may essentially end with CPQ. Quotes or proposals are easily transferred to commodity, boilerplate contracts. The customer signs and the deal is closed. However, as most of us know, for more complex B2B transactions, the process is far from over. To put it politely, where one journey ends, another begins. If you are selling to an enterprise, the contracting phase for any major purchase will almost certainly involve a team of customer procurement and legal professionals, whose motivations and responsibilities significantly differ from your business buyer.

The most recent recession put pressure on internal procurement teams to rein in spending and their success in extracting discounts from vendors opened many finance leaders’ eyes to their utility. In other words, your prospects’ procurement teams are likely more empowered than ever to seek concessions and minimize even the hint of risk, which naturally means more redlining, more amendments, and most distressingly, more time spend closing deals and a higher chance of leaving some deal value on the table.

Automating Contract Management

This is where taking an automated, intelligent approach to contract management comes in. If you have invested in CPQ but the contracting phase of your sales cycle still relies on manual or disjointed processes, you are selling yourself short. It’s like taking a Ferrari halfway to your destination, then hopping on tricycle to finish the trip. Thankfully, CPQ and contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology can work hand and hand to get deals over the finish line faster and more profitably. An integrated approach to CPQ and CLM lets you migrate the required details of a signed quote or proposal directly into a contract template. An intelligent CLM solution will provide a suitable starting contract template to use for that particular customer and sale type; allow your contracting team to easily select and place relevant clauses and amendments from a central repository; provide version control during the negotiation and redlining phase; and even deliver compliance and risk assessments.

In addition to partnering with CLM specialists SpringCM, PROS just announced a partnership with contract management vendor Icertis that will unify PROS Smart CPQ with pricing guidance, Icertis Contract Management, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to create a seamless, frictionless sales optimization solution in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Read more about the partnership here.

While CPQ and CLM often have different buying centers (sales/sales ops vs. legal/procurement/finance), it may be worth thinking about both the downstream or upstream processes that could impact your CPQ or CLM project. Even if you are not considering a joint project right out the gat

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