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.
This week Microsoft announced a new offering (available in the Fall): Microsoft Dynamics 365. Sound familiar? It should. Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics AX all come to mind, and this was not done by mistake. Microsoft is bringing together the capabilities from these products, their intelligence tools, and third party or internally-built apps from its newly launched AppSource. Microsoft will use Dynamics 365 to provide disaggregated applications that serve the functional needs formerly delivered through CRM and ERP suites (e.g. sales, service, marketing, operations, etc.) atop is a common application platform and data model.
So what is Microsoft looking to achieve with these changes? Well, business doesn’t end with a customer interaction, and delivering superior customer experiences doesn’t end at the front office. Front office and back office apps need to talk to one another to make sure companies are able to win, serve, and retain customers. Microsoft aims to:
Give employees access to the right data and tools to perform their jobs. By utilizing a common data model, Dynamics 365 will show a consolidated view of the customer, inclusive of transactional data. This consolidated view delivered in the context of business apps will provide marketing, sales, and service professionals the appropriate context and functionality to serve their customers.
Welcome to my Forrester blog. My career has been a blend of business strategy and technology, whether it was preparing people and processes for new technology eras as a consultant or diving deep into the technology while working in business operations and application development for a CRM vendor. What may surprise many of you reading this is although my blog is new, I am not new to Forrester; I’ve been with Forrester for close to two years working with Application Development & Delivery leaders as an Advisor with Forrester’s Leadership Boards. In that role, I worked directly with 50+ enterprise-level leaders from across all verticals to help define their customer-obsessed strategies and identify the best and next practices to give them a competitive edge. It was this connection with clients around solving critical business problems and using technology to gain an edge that attracted me to research and more specifically, diving back into the world of CRM.