With face-to-face sales meetings and networking events out of commission due to COVID-19 it is a good time to adapt more digitally driven marketing and sales processes. Complex products often present unique challenges when shifting to digital. A few high level concerns are:
- Capability: Can we find outside talent capable of understanding our product logic, much less supporting it
- Customer education: The customer journey from lead to sale is steep, and educating customers requires a lot of handholding. This increases the risk when shifting to automated drip campaigns/bots/webpages/whitepapers, and any other educational resource that might be used to supplement face-to-face meetings.
- Cost: Even if the prior challenges can be met, won’t they still increase cost and time to deploy?
- Payoff: When everything returns to normal will the processes we create still be worth anything? Is it worth it?
Here at e-Con Solutions we have faced the above concerns repeatedly. We develop Configure-Price-Quote software, which is a Dynamics 365 app for FO, BC, CE, any CRM and ERP version still supported by Microsoft. Our product is technical, and each client requires complete customization of the product. Relationships could not be more important as we show our customers how our software can be used, and as we learn about their business requirements.
Nonetheless our digital processes drive a significant portion of leads and revenues. We would like to share a few things we have learned along the way to any business who might feel a bit displaced right now, to speed adaptation to this new socially distant globe.
Create an integrative digital customer experience
When selling complex products and services we need to approach marketing with a relationship mindset over an advertising mindset. It doesn’t make sense to advertise in a traditional way since we sell totally unique products. If we created a traditional ad for a solution, very few businesses would see value in the product itself. Do we advertise our CPQ for FO or BC? Do we discuss CRM or ERP? None of them make a good ad since we exclude 95% of our market when we dive into particulars.
For us the sales experience needs to be a conversation. Once we know a prospect uses AX we can speak to that platform. Once we know they have multiple levels of dependencies in their product specifications we can show them some outrageously complex data models we have developed to address that concern. To get there as fast as possible we prioritize channels for listening, engagement, and collaboration:
- Website messaging app — allows web traffic to ask questions immediately and conveniently
- Chat bot automation — When you have less time for agents to respond to web traffic, automated bots can help you serve more customers and save time.
- Video — The more you can get people in front of your customers the better, right? Video is the next-best thing after face-to-face interaction. We have found this to be absolutely true on our website. Our videographic case studies have paid for themselves many times over.
- Social marketing — Remember that social channels are ideally conversations too. Ask questions, engage partners and prospects, and at the very least give your audience things to do, like visit links, download materials, or watch a video.
Digitize complex product logic so that you can customize anywhere
So far we have discussed lead-generation and cultivation strategies, but now comes the hard part. Sales can be the greatest challenge, especially if you sell complex, custom products. When you have multiple spreadsheets, pricing documents, and communications between sales agents and engineers involved in each sale, it is impossible to provide engaging customer service because what is really just one conversation takes place over weeks or months as you receive request for quote, engineer an accurate quote or proposal, and then discuss.
We expect Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) demand to increase this year as companies look for better, faster ways to serve their customers virtually. e-Con CPQ decimates quote times for our clients while allowing them to deploy sales anywhere on the web, or in the world.
If you want to sell complex, custom products online, then CPQ is the next horizon for your business. Digital marketing is about opening channels so your customers can tell you what they need; CPQ is about connecting those channels directly and in real-time to your business data, so that you can transform those needs into live quotes and configured products on the fly, and then create the order right then and there, anywhere.
In this isolationist world CPQ is the perfect tool to help businesses transition to digital sales. Do you want to learn more about the portal functionality or the e-commerce capabilities, read along.