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Industry Insights: Re-imagining Customer Engagement Through Intelligent CPQ Solutions

The shift towards a digital ecosystem has spurred countless changes across the electronics value chain in recent years. The events of 2020 notwithstanding, we’ve reached a point where B2B customers in the industrial equipment, automotive, high tech, and medical device industries expect an experience that leverages the types of self-service and digital engagement capabilities we’ve seen in the consumer space – and which deliver content and deep personalization that drive relationships based on value and trust.

A transformed configure, price, quote (CPQ) process benefits sales organizations by allowing them to effectively define pricing across numerous variables to benefit margins, while enabling intelligent interactions across both direct and assisted sales channels.

It also benefits customers by allowing them to find solutions that meet their needs, quickly. In the first article of our Industry Insights series, we examined the emergence of design-to-source intelligence (DSI) as a new paradigm for making better sourcing, design, and manufacturing decisions across the electronics value chain. Now, we turn our attention to DSI’s influence on the future of digital engagement.

Realizing The Benefits of Connected Customer Engagement

The complexity and uncertainty of the engineering design process does not allow for an approach that leads with products. When we allow the starting point to be the problem customers are trying to solve, we are able to engage with customers and frame solutions in a way that allows for flexibility, alternatives, and crucially, both upselling and bundling opportunities from the supplier side.

To remain relevant in a digital world, sales and customer support teams need access to intelligence to provide targeted, relevant, and timely responses to complex quotes. An advanced customer engagement platform in the form of a purpose-built CPQ solution for the electronics industry holds key benefits to support this goal.

  1. A Purpose-Built Solution for the Electronics Value Chain

The latest CPQ solutions address B2B customer’s desires to buy online and utilize self-service features to quickly identify options that address their specific problems. To deliver the best possible customer experience, solutions should include a vast array of configuration, pricing, and quote features, powered by real-time industry intelligence and order history.

By delivering tailored and price-optimized quotes for individual accounts quickly, and in a way that connects across CRM, payment, and other customer transactions systems, these CPQ solutions connect the dots between customer needs and the organization’s offerings faster than ever.

For the component suppliers and distributors in the electronics value chain, the ideal CPQ solution takes things one step further, focusing on the inherent complexities of these products, their potentially expansive bill of materials, and the inherent pricing challenges associated with such a large component catalog.

  1. Optimized Sales and Customer Self-Service Experiences

A connected CPQ platform elevates the entire sales and digital commerce teams by creating a more optimized quote response and streamlined customer experience. Prior efforts focused on purely transactional activities, but a CPQ solution empowers a guided and consultative approach that focuses on solving the problem instead of making a quick sale.

Additionally, this ideal CPQ solution would provide an empowered self-service experience for customers through the use of guided quote validation, options analysis, and real-time visibility to lead times, inventory, and tiered pricing. This might include specific product recommendations and machine learning algorithms that can automate and improve future recommendations and remember customer purchase history and negotiated pricing.

The final piece of the puzzle is intelligence. The ability to inject real time market intelligence into the CPQ process creates smarter buying decisions, optimized pricing models, and the ability to quickly pinpoint alternate solutions.

All of this translates to more time for the sales team to focus on bundling, upselling, and crafting a profitable response to the customer’s request for a quote.

  1. Competitive Sales Response Creates a Faster Time to Value 

A capable CPQ solution will improve both accuracy and overall time to respond to quotes and improve customer service and conversion to orders. This is done through the injection of real-time sales intelligence that provides recommended pricing based on historical contracts or market values. The ability to easily recommend alternate parts or suppliers based on lead time or inventory constraints also improves customer trust and share of wallet over time.

Additionally, a holistic view of the market offers the intelligence to craft competitive pricing that stands out. The combination of accurate, streamlined quote response combines with competitive, profitable pricing to deliver higher customer satisfaction and increased win rates that carry higher margins for the organization.

How to Choose a CPQ Solution That Meets Your Organization’s Needs

Deciding on a CPQ solution involves answering internal questions surrounding price, product complexity, and the unique preferences of your customers. Both the business and IT side of the organization will have their own needs, so consider asking a wide range of questions that will help narrow down the specific goals a CPQ solution should fulfill:

  • What is the scope for the initial key users and what are the identified performance improvement goals?
  • How does the potential solution provide a positive customer experience, and is it updated consistently?
  • What features does it offer that are directed to the unique needs and complexities of the electronics industry?
  • What kind of flexibility does the platform offer in terms of managing various product BOMs, list parts, pricing, promotion, and customer-specific configuration options?
  • Does the solution create quotes based on existing templates and are finalized quotes changeable?
  • Does the solution have configurable pricing and approval thresholds?
  • How easily is the solution integrated into existing enterprise data sources, and does it offer scalability?
  • What types of intelligence does the solution inject into the overall sales or customer self-service experience? How does this benefit sales, customer support, and marketing professionals in their daily routine?
  • Is it possible to link the solution to other sources of customer insights, competitive analysis, and marketing campaign attribution?

Supplyframe CPQ offers a next-generation solution purpose-built for the electronics industry. Our innovative approach enables suppliers with vast electronics, industrial or MRO part catalogs to leverage industry-leading supply intelligence, along with customer purchase patterns, all of which contribute to faster, smarter, more profitable quote response.

In addition to these benefits, our CPQ solution also provides rapid and viable alternatives for sales teams to quickly respond to obstacles and identify the best possible solution. Furthermore, BOM validation allows teams to match a bill of materials to standard part numbers and resolve any errors immediately.

Rule-based pricing and configurable approval thresholds ensure more consistent quote responses across in-field sales or self-service ecommerce, while margin optimization leverages both alternatives and quote history to improve average profit margins for specific customers.

All of this, in a real-time solution that is always up-to-date with the most relevant market information that allows teams to capture opportunities and mitigate risk. This level of flexibility and market intelligence goes further than our CPQ solution. Supplyframe’s entire suite of DSI solutions for distributors and suppliers also offers the potential for unparalleled reach and deeper insights into the engineering design cycle.

Visit our website to learn more, and harness the power of Design-to-Source Intelligence for your organization today.

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