Configure, price and quote (CPQ) software has been traditionally viewed as a specialist outpost of software, almost exclusively B2B and predominately used in manufacturing or specialty chemicals or other industries where there were large variants of similar products that required careful configuration, pricing and ultimately generating a quote that could be forwarded to a prospective customer for consideration. But in recent years, this has changed, both in the number of vendors offering CPQ products, either standalone or more commonly as part of a broader offering, and the number of selling organizations recognizing the value of either the “C,” the “P,” or the “Q” or some combination of these.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2023 research agenda for the Office of Revenue, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations realize their optimal value from applying technology to improve business outcomes. Chief Sales and Revenue Officers face an imperative to manage their sales and revenue organizations, but they don’t always have the guidance they need to embrace technology to achieve the best possible outcomes. As we look forward to 2023, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying journey, and in addition focusing on those activities that ensure renewal and expansion as well as newer digital engagement and selling channels. We are looking at applications that simplify processes and tasks across the customer experience, from beginning to end.
Topics: Sales, Analytics, Internet of Things, Data, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, mobile computing, Subscription Management, extended reality, intelligent sales, partner management, sales engagement
Those of us who have worked in or alongside sales teams have observed that many sales fundamentals have changed over the years. Yet, in many ways, they have not. One essential that has not changed is sales enablement. How do you onboard salespeople and quickly bring them up to speed? Or, how do you introduce new products and services so the sales team is conversant and knowledgeable about them? In years past, this would have happened at the head office or a regional office, with videos and internally produced documentation and product fact sheets. But thanks to the internet, this has all changed. Digitization has improved – and will continue to enhance – sales enablement.
The idea of partnerships in business is most definitely not new. Wholesaling through distributors and retailers is centuries old. For some industries, their entire model is selling and servicing through partners. Think auto parts, and the auto part stores visible in most neighborhoods. But what is new is that partnerships are moving beyond this reseller model towards product partnerships, where a seller’s products and services are supplemented by other vendors’ offerings from adjacent and complementary markets.
The topic of revenue operations has been extensively covered recently, not least by vendors extolling the virtues of their particular offering. But as with much of the software industry, vendors often see the market through the lens of their current product capabilities rather than what is necessarily needed. With the rise of the mixed-revenue model that includes subscription and usage pricing as well as one-time sales, combined with the growth in self-service commerce, the result is more teams within an organization being directly involved with supporting revenue generation. In response, many organizations have appointed a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) who is responsible and accountable for all sources of revenue for an organization. And with the rise of the role of the CRO, combined with an increasing adoption of mixed-revenue models, we see this as an increasingly necessary shift. We believe that leadership will need to drive this change in approach, recognizing that this will require a shift in responsibilities and, as importantly, accountability.
Much has been written in recent years on the emergence of subscription management as a new revenue model that both vendors and buyers are embracing as the future. The benefits speak to the value of a predictable revenue stream for the vendor, but more importantly, the advantages to the customer who needs a lower initial outlay, predetermined expense over the lifetime of usage and the ability to cancel or suspend on demand.
I have written about vendor efforts to use artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics in their applications targeted at sales and revenue teams to improve focus and prioritize activities, both for pipeline management as well as individual opportunities. Since then, vendors have continued to innovate, and there have been more releases showcasing efforts to aid sales and revenue. And with this continuing innovation, we believe that by 2026, two-thirds of revenue leaders will begin considering a new generation of revenue analytics and data-driven applications designed to improve performance and productivity.
You would be forgiven for thinking that no one buys anything in person any more given the pages of digital ink spilled over the rise of digital commerce led by the rise and rise of Amazon. However, one quick errand run on a Saturday morning would easily give lie to this, as parking lots are full, not just at grocery stores but for everyday retail as well as big box stores. Likewise, in business-to-business (B2B) commerce, despite the advertised demise, person-to-person sales are still a major part of B2B purchases.
There are more digital channels in the commerce space than ever before: the web, mobile apps, text, voice-activated “agents,” video and social channels. Conversational computing and hyper-personalization are transforming customer engagement, and organizations may need to undergo a digital platform renovation to optimize customer and product experiences or risk lagging behind competitors. B2B selling and buying are increasingly using methods similar to B2C digital approaches to mirror the digital commerce experience that has grown substantially within the last few years. Salesforce Commerce Cloud is one of the platforms utilizing this approach.
“Lead to cash” is an often-used term and is a companion to “quote to cash” and “order to cash”. What they all represent is an approach which recognizes that there is a process designed to convert a lead from a qualified interest to an active sale, through quote and contract negotiation, to order or contract, invoice and payment. “Quote to cash” and “order to cash” are subsets of this process, with different starting places, but ultimately end in the same place: with a payment for a delivered product or service.