The Building Blocks to Help PROS Customers Harness the Value of Their Smart CPQ Solution
Anyone who has ever moved from one residence to another knows moving is painful. Even if you have been able to buy your dream home, leaving your current place to move to your new mansion can be a painful experience. Adopting a new software solution is similar. To realize the greatest return on investment in a new CPQ solution, companies must ensure adoption across the board. You can invest in the best software for your company and still see disappointing returns if your adoption fails. Once you’ve gone live with the solution it is now time to get people to start using it and to stop using the old methods. In other words, you need them to move from their current quoting/pricing/buying home to the fabulous new mansion you have built for them with CPQ.
Have a Plan
CPQ by its nature is a disruptive technology requiring change throughout an organization. The quote-to-cash process affects virtually all aspects of an organization. By implementing CPQ you are asking people in sales, pricing, services, customer service, and many other areas to change the way they do business, daily. So, it’s important to have a plan for how to open the doors and encourage people to enter the brave new world of quoting, selling, and buying with CPQ that you have ready for them.
Make sure all the users see at least one demonstration of the solution being used in the same manner they would use it. Set up training sessions for small groups and encourage them to ask questions. One of the biggest traps companies fall into is improper presentation of and training on the new tool. This usually is a result of the team that has been working on the implementation forgetting that things that are now second nature to them may not be so obvious to new users. It is important to not only show how things work, but also explain why each feature is important.
Timing is Everything
Another area to look at is timing. Was your go-live date one that interfered with the sales cycle? I have seen companies launch the CPQ solution at the beginning of their busiest time of the year with the idea that they will then show immediate results from the project. This typically results in low adoption and/or a longer and more ineffective sales cycle. This is the opposite of what you want to achieve with CPQ and will leave everyone with a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to the new solution. If this is the case at your company, you will need to do a re-launch. Start by making some minor changes to the solution, based on feedback from users, and plan for a re-launch date at least a full quarter before your busy time. This will give users a chance to become comfortable with the tool as well as give your project team time to work out bugs, all in a relatively low-pressure environment. In taking this approach, you are recognizing the initial challenges and showing a willingness to work with users of the system to make it the best it can be.
Incentivize the Desired Outcomes
You will also need to develop incentive plans to encourage users to adopt the technology. These plans vary in type and it’s important to choose those that best fit your company and selling environment. The following are some examples of ways to drive adoption:
- Higher commission rates for the internal sales team when using the CPQ tool for their quoting needs. This should be for a limited time, say one month or one quarter.
- Similarly, if CPQ is being used for e-commerce, offer a discount or rebate to customers who order through the tool. This also should be a time-based initiative.
- Discontinue any internal legacy systems or processes used for quoting altogether. While this may be the most effective way to drive adoption, it also carries the risk of losing business and you may experience employee attrition. So only use this technique if you are confident in the ability of your company and customers to quickly shift gears to a new way of doing things. To make the transition easier, this can be done using a phased approach (i.e. all quotes/orders for Product A will only be created or accepted through CPQ)
- For e-commerce, promised delivery times can be extended using the legacy process, or decreased when CPQ is used.
As I touched upon, adoption can be driven in a phased approach. For example, you may want to roll out adoption initiatives specific to a product or business unit. This will give you the advantage of learning what works and what does not work very well with limited exposure. This will also create the opportunity to build momentum in the company, where you have people evangelizing for the tool to those who have not yet been using it. Lastly, a phased approach will give you some evidence of the benefits of CPQ. For example, you can show bigger deal sizes, larger margins, and shorter sales cycles that have resulted from using the new tool. A phased approach will not work for every company, but many see great benefit from this change management model.
In summary, the importance of having a plan for adoption cannot be overemphasized. You can build the most beautiful mansion in the world, but if there are no doors, no one can enter and enjoy it. Make sure you include the doors when designing your CPQ mansion!
About the AuthorMore Content by John Murphy