Last updated: AI-powered sales: How to plan for the future of CPQ

AI-powered sales: How to plan for the future of CPQ


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Artificial intelligence (AI) is the future of CPQ, sales, and customer experience. That’s not just market hype; it’s what most technology buyers and user believe as well, according to research.

In fact, 76% of CPQ users say they already have AI or plan on implementing AI in the next 12 months.

But just “having” AI in house is not enough, you need a plan. And you need to get strategic about what, when, and how you implement it. Here are some tips experts say you need to consider when incorporating AI into your CPQ processes.

The future of CPQ: Decide what gets the AI treatment and what doesn’t

Make a list of all your work processes related to getting a proposal and pricing to a customer, then categorize them. The tasks that are rote, tedious, and time-consuming are prime candidates for AI. Decision-making that requires processing large amounts of data are also obvious candidates for AI.

On the other hand, processes that require a human touch are the ones least likely to need AI. If you work in sales, especially B2B sales, you know that creativity and human presence are extremely important and need to be given room to thrive.

Customers expect personalized experiences, and while AI can provide sales reps with data to help customize the customer journey, there’s no discounting the importance of the individual seller.

Get Your KPI’s in order

Don’t start a project without a clear idea of what you have to gain – come up with some KPI’s. An increase in sales? Less churn/attrition of sales reps? A reduction in administrative time that frees up resources? Sit down and come up with some realistic goals based on the technologies you have or are evaluating.

Something as simple as less man hours spent coming up with a proposal can have a concrete benefit expressed in dollars. The numbers can then be touted to management as a success story.

Knock off projects with quick benefits first

The state of AI technology in CPQ varies from pre-built, out-of-the box technologies to complicated toolkits that require a lot of testing and training and configuration. Start small with a project that is mostly pre-built. This can payoff, getting your feet wet and winning the  confidence of senior managers, who will ask for more.

After that initial success, consider a more ambitious, longer-term project that will require more serious resources and staffing.

Consider your company’s biggest issues when considering the future of CPQ

AI for the future of CPQ is not an IT problem, and it’s not even a technology problem. It’s a solution to a business problem. Find out where your company is at financially, and what it needs the most.

For example, are you in a high-growth, market-share-grabbing phase? Find an AI solution that is all about boosting revenue through CPQ. Do you need to become more profitable and watch out for problems like excessive discounting? Look for a solution that uses AI to automatically implement margin guardrails. Is HR a major cost that the company needs to trim? Look for technologies that eliminate administrative time.

Keep customer experience in mind

Customers may like chatbots in some situations, but human presence will remain a huge factor for B2B sales and winning large deals. Make sure your AI-powered CPQ solutions enable your sales team to be more attentive to customers.

Consider that speed and providing the best possible pricing enhance the customer experience. The future of CPQ also requires looking into using AI to analyze and solve customer experience issues with a survey tool.

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