cpq.se
we help nordic small- and midsized manufacturers get started with tools for configuration, pricing and quoting
Get Started

Is sales ready?

Posted On Thursday, June 11, 2020




Customer often ask us if we think their company is ready to digitalize sales. It’s a fair question and the answer is almost always yes. For the company it’s simple, if we don’t digitalize our sales our competitors will.

When your competitors start using digital tools for selling their products it has been proven to have a great impact. When things that previously took months now can be done in days and when days can turn into minutes, that’s when it will get very difficult to compete. If you’re the one still doing old-school, that is.

The question I often ask is not if the company is ready. Normally production is all in for doing things in a structured and well thought out way. They’ve been doing it that way for centuries by now.

Product development have also learned to use new tools, both to revolutionize the way things are calculated and optimized for better utilization and environmental impact.

But there is one department that often is two steps behind. Sure, they’ve got fancy gadgets and they’ve all learned to master tools like Power point, Word and e-mail. They have often been forced into some kind of CRM-system to align with the tracking and the forecasting.

When it comes to selling products, it’s often a completely different story.

Some manufacturers still believe that selling exactly what the customer is asking for is the way forward. The guys in production knows the problem this creates, the girls in product development know all to well how this turns the job more into firefighting more than anything else.

But sales is often ok with doing what’s really bad for the company. They'll often prefer to keep doing it wrong.

Therefore, it’s time to get the act together and understand the difference between what you COULD sell and what you really SHOULD sell. There's a big difference, both in practice and when it comes to bottom line profit.

Digital tools (and in this case I’m particularly taking about CPQ) will draw a very defined line between good and bad when it comes to customer offerings. As I said in the beginning, this is an easy decision for the company. But is sales really ready for this?

If your sales reps still think that full flexibility is the only way the product can be sold, then maybe CPQ is not for you. If you can’t accept that some proposals should never see the light of day, then digitization may not be for you.

So, my advice is for companies that think digital presence is essential in these times is very simple:

First of all, you need to make sure your sales department is ready to do thing right.

If not, leave it to your competitor. To find new ways into the future.


Tom

Posted On Monday, November 25, 2019



The effort and cost of implementing CPQ is driven mostly by the quality of the documentation of your product. And let’s be honest – your product is not well documented.

So, is everything hopeless? No, because your company probably has a “Tom”. Who is Tom you might say? Let me tell you a short story.

One of my first projects at Tacton was with a company that produces really big machines, we’re talking €5,000,000 and 10,000 options big. When planning the project, the project manager sketched a project plan where the whole configuration model was supposed to be finished in three months. I tried to convince him that this was completely unrealistic, especially considering the team consisted of 3 people, the experienced product expert, me and a junior modeler. I did not convince him, and instead got ready for a tough project.

I clearly remember one of the first days of the project, when we were working on some oil tanks that the big machine needed. I asked the product expert about which oil tanks were available, and what the rules were: “Yes, they’re right here in a special Excel sheet I have in my laptop, and the rules are in my head”.

The product expert was a man in his early sixties that had been with the company for over thirty years. He knew everything about these big machines. He knew all the options, all the sales reps; and in practice, most important quotes passed by him before being sent to their customers. His name was Tom.

We did finish the project in three months – and it was entirely due to Tom. Not only because he knew everything, but also due to the internal political strength of Tom. If Tom said that the company should not sell customized electrical cabinets – well, then it was a decision. No design by committee, no delayed decisions.

I bet you have your own Tom in your company. Take care of him or her. But watch out, the ‘Toms’ are usually ready to retire within a few years. Are you prepared for what happens when he or she does?

Maybe it’s time to contact us at cpq.se to document all this knowledge in a CPQ tool? You’ll get a smoother and more efficient sales process as a nice bonus.

Note: Tom’s real name is something else (he might even be a woman).


Tacton CPQ with online CAD Automation

Posted On Friday, November 8, 2019


A common request from our customers is a simple visualization of their products. They're not looking for:

- An exact CAD-drawing, because that can mean that their customer can copy the product and get it produced cheaper

- A fully fledged visualization with perfect surfaces, because they understand the challenge of setting up and maintaining this over time.

Our customers are looking for something in between,  let's call it 'sales CAD'!

We decided to investigate the market for this type of product and found Dynamaker. Dynamaker calls themselves Online CAD for Mass Customization.

We decided to set up a demo together, and selected a electrical cabinet as an example. The electrical cabinet configuration problem is a classic in the CPQ-world. It's really challenging as it's essentially a 'Bin packing problem'. This means that you shouldn't try to solve it optimally, as it may take an eternity. So we're using a smart(er) version of the 'first fit algoritm'.

One of the key take-aways from setting up a demo together, is how easy both Dynamaker and Tacton are to integrate to. Tacton has ready-made functionality to allow external (visualization) windows in the tool, and to send messages to the visualization. Dynamaker in turn can easily pick up messages from external configurators and feed them to their online CAD. We essentially had a simple version up and running within less than 2 hours.




I think the integration of the tools is really cool, taking the best of both worlds. Don't hesitate to reach out to us, if you would like a demo of the combined solution!

CPQ Partner meetup


The partner network for CPQ and especially Tacton CPQ is expanding in the Nordics. Yesterday we had a first meetup in Uppsala, organized by cpq.se and hosted by Sisyfos Digital.

We started out with a short introduction of all attendants. There were six companies joining during the day.

CPQ Finland - CPQ implementation in Finland with extensive knowledge in PLM.

Cloud Exponent - 20+ Tacton experience with focus on business transformation and expert on SalesForce integrations

Metro Communications - Microsoft partner in the UK with long Tacton experience now focusing on cloud solutions including Microsoft Dynamics

OMT - Business engineering with 50 years combined experience within their CPQ consulting team

Sisyfos Digital - working with digitalization and PIM (and my favorite Uppsala consulting firm)

cpq.se - that's us. Tacton CPQ re-seller in the extended Nordics and CPQ expert consulting.





The purpose of the day was to bring together some of the people that have reached out to myself and Patrik over the last months. We started out with speed-dating, but quickly realized it was more of ex-on-the-beach.

Many of us knew each other from previous endeavors, but there were sure new faces to be introduced as well as new collaborations to be investigated.
Today’s topic - How to present CPQ

The topic for the day was sales and the second session focused on a meta-presentation how we at cpq.se present the concept of CPQ, challenges for our customer, value delivered, quick demo and subscription fees. The presentation ends with a proposed next step.

Next thing, after some traditional Swedish fika, was for every company to present their take on the CPQ sales pitch. After a few minutes of preparation each company presented their view of how to present CPQ to their customers.

With all the expertise in the room there was a very good discussion on how each and everyone of us could improve and optimize the pitch.

The afternoon went by really fast and we finished of the day with a visit to my favorite local brewery in Uppsala. During the evening we were joined by some old friends from Tacton. The picture above was taken by our guide Colin when we had a first ever taste of the upcoming collaboration between Uppsala Brygghus and Edge Brewing.

A very inspiring day. We will definitely meet-up again to discuss opportunities and challenges in the CPQ business.

Don't re-use your existing rules

Posted On Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Ok, so you've invested a couple of man-years to get your configuration rules working in your current ERP or PLM system. It took a lot of work, and you have over 10,000 rules - some of them really complex. You're really proud of the accomplishment of the team.

You don't always get the result you expect, and then some engineer has to debug for a few hours - but all in all it works.

However, the rules are now in you back-end system - and your sales are still using Excel or some other home-built tool to quote. The quotes never matches what the back-end system has available. Your have a lot of change orders, where you need to come back to the customer with a updated and correted quotes.

So you think, maybe you should buy a CPQ system and re-use the existing rules?

No - don't do that!

Switching system and keeping your rules is not the answer. I'm sorry to say, but your rules probably aren't very good. This is a classic 'sunk cost' bias where just because you spent a lot of money on something - doesn't mean it's good. If you have 10 people digging a hole in the ground for a day, is the hole worth 80 man hours?

You need efficient rules or even better constraints.

One example for a rim and tire:
tire.diameter=rim.diameter
Read more about constraints here.

These rules or constraint will be correct today, they will be correct tomorrow - because they describe the natural relation between two items in your product portfolio.

Write new rules!

Maybe even re-use them in your back-end system in the future. The complicated and error-prone maintenance will kill your old rules. Don't let them kill your CPQ-system as well.


Tacton Peer insight by Gartner

Posted On Monday, September 30, 2019

Do you want to know what customers think about Tacton?

Gartner has a page were 18 Tacton CPQ-customers rate Tacton CPQ and there are many valuable insights shared.

Check it out at

https://www.gartner.com/reviews/market/configure-price-quote-application-suites/vendor/tacton


Powered by Blogger.

Get In Touch

Lyckan 7, 753 24 Uppsala, Sweden
+46 736 614 953
info@cpq.se

Contact Form

Names

Email

Message

© cpq.se. All Rights Reserved