Using Mobile Technology To Price, Quote and Engage Customers

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Quote and Engage Customers

To remain competitive in the e-commerce age, companies are starting to recognize that one price does not fit all, and in fact, the marketplace demands a great deal of versatility. Individual consumers have experienced this when dealing with sophisticated B2C retailers such as Amazon, a company well known for adjusting prices by the minute. A TV that is on sale for $450 might quickly change down to $397 a few minutes later, thanks to algorithms that constantly check the prices and inventories of its competitors. That is how e-commerce business is done – dynamically and in real time across all channels.

In many cases, the customization of an order is now essential to its successful completion. With buyers legitimately feeling more empowered and educated, there is no longer patience for static ordering and pricing systems owned and controlled entirely by the vendor. Today, the sales rep must visit the customer with wireless tablet in hand, ready to review and construct an order and pass it back to the customer, either for a signature then-and-there, or for review by the buyer’s team. Consumerization of the enterprise is happening, and so, too is enterprise mobility.

Configure Price Quote (CPQ)

One of the most dynamic demonstrations of this mobile approach can be seen in the technique of configure-price-quote (CPQ). This refers to a software solution that helps companies become more aware of their own data, especially pricing and inventory, in order to stay more competitively in line with the market. CPQ helps companies calculate discounts and close sales while still maintaining a margin.

Although such competitive pricing techniques might not be new in and of themselves, the way in which sales reps can now access them, wirelessly and through the cloud, means the process of selling can move forward and stay at the leading edge of both competitiveness and cost-effectiveness. Similarly, the other areas of the vendor business, such as back office/ERP, which have traditionally existed in siloes, have access to the same cloud-based data, thus improving the other support elements in the transaction, including shipping, support, and commission management.

CPQ software generally includes price sheets, catalog information and inventory data. They form an integral part of a customized sales process, assisting and even predicting a customer’s needs based on past purchases and the intelligent use of big data and predictive analytics. In short, CPQ software pulls together a range of market pricing variables, including discounts and up-sells, and configures for idealized pricing. Hence the acronym, CPQ.

CPQ helps companies better manage their pricing, which can be a challenge as they grow larger and employ more sales representatives and related support staff, while maintaining a growing customer base. Sales are lost when up-to-date pricing and quote opportunities are lost, and this is something that is no longer acceptable in a mobile first economy.

Though innovative practices such as CPQ are gradually inserting themselves into the commercial world, they continue to be hamstrung by legacy systems, outdated management attitudes, and inadequate communication of knowledge and data. This becomes part of the challenge of being, as KPMG calls it, “responsibly mobile.”

Companies today must build:

  • a sound strategy and roadmap for all the devices and apps that they identify as useful, competitive and cost-effective
  • a delivery method for an effective and consistent customer experience
  • an operational structure to manage data, both inbound and outbound

As Martin Sokalski and Max Hanson, both of KPMG IT Advisory Services, write in their white paper, A Framework for Responsibly Mobile, “many [companies] attempt to address these challenges [of mobile commerce], but their efforts are often siloed and fragmented. For example, some will focus all efforts on securing data on mobile devices, but fail to consider business use cases, user experience or alignment to a broader enterprise strategy.” The authors of this piece call for a coordinated “mobility center of excellence to better pull things together.”

Although CPQ is not the only solution available to companies, it represents the dynamic and centerless cloud-based world in which all businesses must exist. Some C-level decision-makers may observe cloud technology as simply an external storage space, or at best a communications and marketing vehicle. But the evolution of customer pricing and quotations as embodied by CPQ demonstrates that the entire sales process can benefit from being mobile and cloud-based. There are both cost savings and profits to be realized by moving to a state of true mobile.

This post is brought to you by The CIO Agenda.

KPMG LLP is a Delaware limited liability partnership and is the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. The KPMG name, logo and “cutting through complexity” are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG LLP.

By Steve Prentice

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