When I studied business, one of the concepts I learned and really understood well was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a very well established theory of motivation which proposes that some needs take priority over others. At the base of the triangle are fundamental needs for survival, and as we satisfy those needs our attention focuses on softer things like relationships and satisfying our own ego.
I think the same approach can be taken to the implementation of a great Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) system, so I’d like to introduce Walpole Partnership’s Hierarchy of CPQ Needs.
Let’s start at the bottom of the pyramid with CPQ’s physiological needs. For a good CPQ system you need to be sure that your core business processes can be handled by the system. You need confidence that your products and services can be well represented (and visually represented if needed), and that your own organisation’s data can be loaded. Check out how a CPQ vendor or implementation partner will handle your requirements before you invest. These are the fundamentals of any CPQ solution and without these building blocks in place you’ll be on shaky ground.
Your CPQ system needs to be easily accessible to users, but it also needs to have good security surrounding it. The data held in such a system is often commercially sensitive and must be kept secure. Look for an established vendor with rock-solid database credentials. For your implementation partner you want to know your data will be secure as they handle it, so international standards like ISO27001 for Data Security are critical. If you have concerns over the security of data as it leaves on premise systems and goes into the cloud you can also consider Tokenisation solutions to add a layer of encryption. Don’t lose sight of the accessibility side of safety though. Your CPQ system may need to be accessible on phones or tablets so ensure your chosen CPQ can handle this effectively.
A good cloud-based CPQ solution should foster collaboration. The ability to have a number of people viewing a deal at the same time and working on pulling the right combination of product/service attributes and pricing together is where the best CPQ systems start to excel.To achieve this, you need more than just a capable system. You need a user-friendly process and an intuitive interface that encourages users to adopt the tool. You also need an integration partner that can help you drive user adoption in creative ways. No one wakes up in the morning saying “I can’t wait to raise a quote today”. Positive meaningful adoption strategies mean your users will see the system as a friend and an asset to their productivity.
Everyone likes to feel like they’ve achieved something. With a CPQ system that’s well thought out you can enable approval seekers to get what they need quickly and in a robust and audible manner. Serial and parallel approval chains, smart notifications and mobile approvals are a must to ensure the deals keep flowing into your business. A second key part of esteem is to have a solution that generates excellent output documents. Well-designed, professionally branded quotes and proposals with dynamic data that are available at the press of a button give your sales team a feeling of confidence, and ensures your customers see the best side of your company.
The pinnacle of CPQ implementations comes when your organisation has all the lower levels in place, it can take advantage of the latest CPQ developments, and has a path to continuous alignment with the business, the people and the products and services you sell. Your CPQ system needs to be a living, breathing entity that grows with you as you learn what CPQ can do for your business. It can do this as you simplify and standardise your business processes and as your organisation matures in its ability to deliver a great customer experience.
The hierarchy above doesn’t replace a formal RFP (request for proposal) process (if that’s what your organisation needs, we provide consultancy to enable you to write a great CPQ RFP too), but it can help shape your thoughts on what level you’re thinking about your CPQ needs.
To hit the highest level of CPQ achievement make sure you choose a vendor with the advanced capabilities that you need, and look for a long-term relationship with an implementation partner that has CPQ expertise to help you make the most of your system, now and in the future.
“Move over Maslow – Walpole Partnership’s Hierarchy of CPQ Needs” was written by Andy Pieroux, Walpole Partnership’s MD.