If you’re in a B2B environment, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the changing behaviors of your customers in recent years. As a result, technologies have shifted their focus to get closer to the customer and I'm not talking about just CRM or SFA. With a flurry of acquisitions and new entrants to the CPQ market popping up regularly, we decided to tighten the aperture and evaluate the top 11 CPQ vendors in The Forrester Wave™: Configure-Price-Quote Solutions, Q1 2017. These vendors do the most to address the rising, empowered B2B buyer. Below are some of the key findings from the report:
Customer and buyer experiences become a priority. CPQ is not about engineers. It’s not even about sellers anymore. CPQ is about the customer, and in this case that means both the end buyer of your products and the customers of your technology (indirect channels selling on your behalf) expect easy and effective interactions. CPQ is now a key enabler to delivering a high quality customer experience.
CPQ has no channel limitations. CPQ is not, I repeat, is not a back office solution anymore. It’s long addressed the needs of front line sales reps, and now it extends its functionality to all available channels. This means companies can extend the same business rules and logic to indirect channels (i.e. partners, dealers, distributors, etc.), customer service reps, eCommerce sites, and even emerging channels like IoT devices.
Last week, nearly 170,000 business and technology professionals descended onto San Francisco for Salesforce’s annual conference, Dreamforce. The event itself was ripe with discussions on social responsibility and charity, but most attendees, including myself, attended for other reasons. We wanted Salesforce to pull back the curtains on what it saw for the future of sales.
Once things got underway, Salesforce’s Einstein took center stage… quite literally. We’ll get to Einstein in just a bit, but not to be overshadowed by Einstein, Salesforce unequivocally made their keynote about sales. 2016 was a landmark year for Salesforce and their commitment to sales. They closed on their acquisitions of SteelBrick and Demandware, and used Dreamforce as the stage to rebrand them as Salesforce CPQ and Commerce Cloud respectively. So what does all this mean? It means that regardless of sales channel, Salesforce is fighting harder than ever to be your selling platform of choice… and they make a pretty compelling case.
Let’s take a closer look at the case Salesforce is making. To do so, we must understand Salesforce’s pillars of technology supporting sales.
Sales Cloud delivers core CRM functionality for sellers. Sales Cloud is the bread and butter for Salesforce. For many of its customers, Sales Cloud represents the foundation of technology enabled selling processes. From account and opportunity management to pipeline management and white space analysis, Sales Cloud helps sales and sales leaders strategize and prioritize their sales efforts.
Twenty months have passed since Forrester last published our Wave evaluation of the leading B2B commerce suite vendors. During that time much has changed. B2B eCommerce transactions in the US have grown 40% from $559b in 2013 to reach an estimated $780b by the end of 2015. Furthermore, 74% of B2B buyers now research and 30% now buy at least one-half of their work purchases online. Manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers alike are investing heavily in next generation enterprise B2B commerce technology to ensure they are delivering world-class online buying experiences that are able to scale for anticipated growth. As a result of this wave of investment, manufacturing and wholesale trade firms will spend more on commerce technology by the end of the decade than their peers in B2C retail.
As eBusiness teams look for solutions in the market, not only are they benchmarking their future state online buying experience against B2B peers like Grainger, but also against B2C leaders like Amazon and Wal-Mart. This means they need solutions with a best-in-class foundation of B2C features such as robust marketing, merchandising and experience management tools upon which unique B2B capabilities such as contract pricing, quotes pricing lists, eProcurement, product configuration and customization, guided selling, bulk order entry, dealer management, and account, contract, and budget management are then layered on top.