The Need for Quoting Software Designed for Manufacturing
Manufacturers of tangible products need quoting software specifically for manufacturing, not a one-size-fits-all CPQ solution. That’s because manufacturing sales often includes complex product configurations, customizable products, and products with multiple options.
Implementing a product configurator requires significant time and investment, and if the proper product is not chosen, the configurator can produce a neutral or even negative return on investment. In other words, if you’re going to do it, you’d better do it right; and, to do it right, here are some key components you need to consider.
The Need for Configuration
In a perfect world for sellers, everything is standardized.
In the early days of modern manufacturing, products were uniform, and options, if any, were limited. When a customer ordered a product with modifications outside of the boilerplate version, they would simply have to wait until the manufacturer got around to making it. But as globalization became more prevalent, manufacturers learned that it was easy to copy (actually, counterfeit) standardized products in overseas markets and underprice them.
Enter: the need for customization. Even as manufacturers across the globe outsourced manufacturing to lower cost “off-shore” countries, the situation didn’t change. The need for customization remained. In fact, as technology advanced, the ability to customize expanded. To stay ahead of the game, the more customization a manufacturer could offer, the more chance they had of lasting success.
The Need for Configurators for Manufacturing Sales
The art of configuration has traditionally been a manual process. For manufacturers, this was problematic. It would take days or weeks for sales reps to sift through spreadsheets in order to prepare a quote for highly-configurable products and was all-too-often plagued by human error. CPQ (Configure Price Quote) technology changed that.
With the item master, pricing, and business rules built-in, the creation of a quote can be done in minutes, and can be done with 100% accuracy. In addition, if the CPQ is intuitive and easy, even fun to use, adoption becomes unanimous and training time and costs are drastically reduced.
Ultimately, this technology leads to a direct increase in sales. With streamlined processes of configuration, quoting, and ordering—featuring complete accuracy and reliability—customers can receive the customized orders they’re looking for quickly, providing an excellent experience from beginning to end. This is the future of manufacturing sales.
The Configurators’ Role in the Production Process
Just as the sales cycle is shortened, so could be the production cycle. With the ability to automatically generate dynamic bills of materials (BOMS) and routings, and by supporting CAD automation and 3D imaging visualization, manufacturers can utilize manufacturing quoting software to eliminate errors and miscommunication between engineers and the shop floor. Since even highly-configured products might be produced in massive quantities, the cost of do-overs can be staggering.
Additionally, the collaboration between the “top floor” and the “shop floor” is an essential part of optimized, or smart manufacturing. In the digital manufacturing environment of today, the smart factory will always outpace the competition that’s still using traditional operating methods and systems.
Configuration and CRM
By combining CPQ capabilities with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution, a single version of the truth can be established for all concerned parties to reference. With everyone from engineering to sales to customer service working within the same platform, the entire production and sales process (including customer interactions and communications) can be monitored from a role-based CRM application.
Some CRMs offer CPQ as an option, mostly through the acquisition of a third party configurator, but these are never manufacturing-specific. Factors such as the item master are seldom built-in and rely on “joins” to the item master in the manufacturer’s ERP. If a join should break, the CPQ malfunctions. Manufacturers cannot afford for this to happen. In contrast, if the item master is embedded in the CRM, the chance of malfunction and the resultant interruption of the production cycle is eliminated.
Configuration and Channel Sales
The majority of manufacturers rely on indirect channels for a portion of their sales. That’s why it’s important that their CRM/CPQ includes a portal for indirect sellers. In this way, a wholesaler or a dealer can conduct the configure, price, quote process without any intervention by the manufacturer. In turn, manufacturing sales increase both by making it easier and faster for partners to sell, and by freeing up the direct sales channel to do exactly what they were hired to do—SELL!
CPQ and Ecommerce
Manufacturers do not want to be left out of the online B2B sales model, and with good reason. Like the partner portal, being able to sell online makes it easier for prospects and customers to buy from you and tends to produce higher margins. Just like 3D/CAD automation helps the engineers and the factory, 3D visualization accelerates B2B Ecommerce. Prospective buyers can have an immersive visual experience while they shop, and with CPQ, can benefit from a significant array of product options.
The Best CPQ for Manufacturers
Verenia CPQ includes all of the features mentioned above and more. It was designed and built by manufacturing experts for manufacturing sales. With it’s built-in CRM for manufacturing, you won’t pay for CRM features that you don’t need or will never use.
Verenia is known for its user-friendly administration and intuitive interface for sales and business people. And, it’s 100% roadmapped for manufacturing—meaning enhancements and new features are always being added or are in the works. Verenia’s modern architecture makes it highly flexible and scalable, and it resides securely in the AWS cloud.
It’s well-known in business today that a complex sales model can drain the life out of any manufacturing enterprise. In short, complexity kills sales; Verenia kills complexity!
Schedule a demo to see how Verenia’s leading CPQ software will immediately increase sales, reduce costs, and streamline quoting for your manufacturing business today!