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As a manufacturer, how easy is it to do business with your organization? It’s a fairly simple question that most often leads to very complex answers. If a customer wanted to buy your product today, what would that process look like? How does that process differ depending on the complexity of the product being purchased?
To begin answering these questions start at the beginning stages of your buying process - the initial quote. Let’s assume quick ship items are handled through an e-commerce platform. For more complex product offerings that cannot be handled by a simple shopping cart transaction, how long does it take to send a budgetary quote to a customer?
For manufacturers looking to stay ahead of the competition, the answer should always be “as quickly as possible”. If a competitor is responding to quotes at a faster rate, how likely are they to win the business over me? Perhaps an even more important question to ask is how does the quoting experience of my competitor compare to that of my company? If your competitor is providing a better buying experience at a faster rate, you are most likely losing business to them.
If your competitor is providing a better buying experience at a faster rate, you are most likely losing business to them.
While price does play an important role in the quoting process, buyer confidence is by far the most important factor in deciding on a vendor. If your competitors are leveraging software tools that improve buyer confidence in the quoting process, they own a significant competitive advantage over those who are not.
The “ease of doing business” factor is important no matter the size and scale of the organization. In my past role as a sales rep at a Fortune 500 steel manufacturer, it was the number one initiative based on a survey taken across their entire customer base. This led to a major initiative to invest in e-commerce tools and other mechanisms to improve the buying experience for customers.
A growing number of manufacturers are beginning to understand the importance of empowering all sales channels including internal reps, distribution partners, and end consumers.
Reliance on engineers or product experts to generate budgetary quotes lengthens the process and can lead to high levels of customer frustration. Distribution partners who sell for multiple manufacturers of similar product lines are more likely to quote the manufacturer providing the tools that make it easiest to do so.
If I am a manufacturer of built-to-order products, what initial steps should I take to become “easier to do business with”? Evaluating cloud-based Configure Price Quote (CPQ) software tools is a great place to start. In selecting the appropriate CPQ vendor, it’s important to first define your specific sales channels and current customer buying behavior. This will allow you to determine the importance of embedded website functionality, integrations to existing software platforms, manufacturing specific workflows and product visualization among other key attributes.
For a complimentary 30 minute consultation to discuss your current sales and quoting process and understand which CPQ tools are best for your organization, please connect with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org