CPQ: Success factors for the user experience

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If you can’t use it, you won’t use it: User experience in CPQ software

As discussed in the last blog post in our series on CPQ (configure, price, quote) solutions, it is key to follow a structured approach for selecting and implementing a suitable CPQ solution. Technical requirements such as connectivity with existing systems are typically the foundation for a solution selection. However, based on my experiences beyond purely technical and functional dimensions, there is one more key dimension to consider: the user experience of a CPQ solution.

User experience ultimately determines if an implemented CPQ solution is creating the desired business value. A great user experience enhances and supports each individual sales process. Poor user experience however will slow down and inhibit sales activities and software with poor user experience will have a hard time getting accepted by the users.

So, what should you keep in mind when developing and implementing a CPQ solution in order to ensure a great user experience? Based on our experiences with various clients, a couple of key success factors can help to guide the implementation process in the right direction. These success factors vary slightly based on the desired application context, so it makes sense to distinguish between CPQ software that is being used by customers versus software designed to be used by sales staff. Let’s start with the first scenario:

  1. Customer experience success factors

A core application of CPQ software, especially in B2C businesses, is to be used by the end customers either completely on its own or in collaboration with a salesperson. Common B2C examples for this include the car configurators that can be found on the websites of all large car manufacturers or watch configurators in the luxury segment (e.g., https://www.iwc.com/us/en/configurator.html).

Two user experience-related factors are absolutely critical for the success of CPQ software in this setting:

  • Ease of use: Product configurations, especially for highly technically advanced products such as cars, can be incredibly complex. When building CPQ software, it is very tempting to try to mirror all this complexity. However, the purpose of good CPQ software is not to induce, but to manage complexity. In a B2C use case, a configurator is primarily a core tool within the sales funnel, so above all, it needs to appeal to and motivate the user to consider purchasing this product – if you can’t configure it, you won’t buy it.
  • Individual user journey: Given the complex nature of many products that are sold via CPQ solutions, large differences in the expertise of the potential customers are to be expected. Some customers will be experts and will, for example, have a very clear idea of the implications of the different possible motors for a certain car model. Others, however, will have much less previous knowledge. Consequently, a good CPQ solution will need to enable at least two very different journeys for these two groups of customers. For less knowledgeable customers, an easy to understand explanation of the available configuration options is required, which is likely going to be redundant for more experienced customers. Conversely, directly jumping into the technicalities of the configuration might be suitable for experienced users, but confusing and deterring for “newbies.” As a result, a successful CPQ solution needs to enable different configuration journeys to suit all users’ needs.
    1. Salesperson experience success factors

The second scenario we will consider for the purpose of this article is one where a salesperson is the main user of CPQ solution. This is especially the case, for example, with industrial goods, which are typically tailored to the individual customer. In any case, the requirements that a salesperson places on CPQ solutions differ from those of a B2C customer and lead to the following success factors:

  • Efficient usability: In contrast to what I discussed above regarding “ease of use,” the user experience for a professional salesperson is less about an easily understandable and potentially reduced interface and more about a quick and efficient experience. Salespeople will have expert knowledge of the product and a reasonable amount of experience with the CPQ tool, so that a very explanatory and motivating interface is not the number-one requirement. Rather, the sales staff needs to be able to navigate the CPQ tool quickly and down to most granular level of detail if required. The number-one objective for the CPQ software here is to support and facilitate sales meetings of the sales staff with potential customers in all imaginable situations.
  • Tactical user journeys: In a similar vein, salespeople using CPQ software also need to be able to not only access all potentially required information at all levels of detail, but also to tailor the journey they are currently taking in a tactical way to the stage that the sales process currently is in. Let’s return to the example of a salesperson in a car dealership using configurator software in a sales conversation with a potential customer. Depending on her feeling, the salesperson might opt to focus on key features of a car in an early stage of the sales process while excluding prices from the discussion. Conversely, at a later stage, it will be necessary to have some interface in the CPQ software, where prices and financing options can be discussed with the customer as well. Just as before, the underlying goal with this success factor is again to support each salesperson in their individual selling approach with their customers.

As we see from these success factors: Usability and adaptability to the context are key for CPQ solutions. It is critical for a successful implementation to keep the different use cases in mind that will occur in the use of this CPQ. Based on this, CPQ tool needs to be developed around the users and their needs instead of around what is technically possible.

Start now the transformation of your sales department

Through numerous successful projects for the design and implementation of CPQ solutions and the broad spectrum of expertise within the Capgemini Group, we are able to support you in your CPQ ambitions, from strategic analysis to the implementation and launch of the software. To find out more about how CPQ can help you make your company’s sales activities future-proof, tailor your sales processes consistently to the end customer and how Capgemini Invent can support you in this, please contact our experts.

This article has been co-authored by David Rissmann.

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