Sales rarely do everything alone. While one person usually functions as the sole face of the client, intense collaboration often takes place behind the scenes. For example, in the areas of pricing, lead marketing, pre-sales consultants for developing solutions or negotiating a contract – multiple parties are essentially always required to complete a deal.
But what exactly is collaborative selling, why is it important, and how can you ensure that your team is committed to success?
What is Collaborative Selling?
Collaborative selling is not exactly a new concept. Salespeople have always relied on others to win a deal or provide sufficient advice to prospects. The difference is that today’s resources are becoming more customer-focused and collaborative in the actual sales process. Consultants participate in sales talks at an early stage. The service representative will meet with the customer to discuss ongoing support. Your customer’s CEO could get questions answered directly from your own engineers and designers. In short, Team Selling is everywhere you look.
Collaborative selling does not provide a rigid sales model. Instead, it’s about working with the client to form a team that aids in decision-making. Most business customers today say that they do not care about a vendor who is just selling. They want a trusted advisor in the sales process who creates added value for their business and leads both sides to a favorable agreement.
In addition to the awareness of anchoring Collaborative Selling in the company, new challenges for the mapping of your system landscape emerge from this claim, especially for large companies. In addition to bringing together know-how, customers expect fast and transparent processes and results in the CPQ process.
What Slows down the Sale?
With indirect sales channels increasingly dominating the mix of all manufacturers, many are finding that they could achieve better results with their CPQ channel strategies.
The general challenges that all manufacturers face when trying to achieve closer collaboration across different distribution channels and to sell more configuration-based products include the following:
- They have to rely on paper and Microsoft Excel-based price lists and pivot tables.
- No price exceptions discounting checks or automation.
- No automated sales tools integrated with CRM systems for customer data.
- No integration with supply chain systems to provide Available to Promise (ATP) and Capable to Promise (CTP) bidding.
- There are no rule-based and constraint-based configurators that can be used to verify that a particular product configuration can be created.
Factors of an inefficient CPQ distribution model include:
- Orders are lost to competitors who are more agile and can sell faster.
- Offers for complex products take days, but the prospective customer needs them within a few hours.
- Ambiguity relating to options, prices and products.
- Offers are frequently and repeatedly revised.
- Missing automated pricing and quote tools do not allow an accurate product configuration.
- Forcing a mindset that applies only to transactions and already existing products.
How Collaborative Selling Improves the Customer Experience
Changing customer expectations makes the buying process increasingly complex. The pool of decision-makers involved in the buying process is much larger in business today than it was in the past.
Analyses show that 83% of business customers find it very important to interact with a salesperson who has in-depth knowledge of their company’s products or services. Sales teams must become experts to understand their customers’ goals.
To be fully prepared to meet the buyer’s expectations, a seller needs his own super team to assist. By having their own team of specialists who can work together quickly and share information, salesmen can demonstrate that they have more in-depth knowledge and support than their competitors.
Another added benefit is that the collaborative sales process increases the interest of customers and their partners. Suppose before the sale that a buyer has a question that he puts in a collaboration group. You receive the answer from your team and your partners involved in the conversation. This creates a sense of community and an early connection in the sales process that spans the entire customer journey. Ultimately, this collaboration enhances the customer and partner experience by strengthening the sales process and building trust.
What Is Required for Successful Collaborative Selling?
- Pricing is today one of the most complex and powerful parts of a collaborative CPQ system. Take advantage of all the ways to create intuitive, simplified workflows for bundling, discounting, approving price exceptions, and escalations and price updates.
- Build a Partner Relationship Management (PRM) to improve sales promotion and collaboration. With a PRM foundation to stabilize the partner community, they have provided the communication tools they need to enhance collaborative sales, even with the latest customer requirements.
- Give your teams a seamless and consistent collaboration from sales to production to service. By bringing all the data from each team together to create a common view of the customer, each industry can deliver networked experiences that accelerate the sales cycle.
- Make it easy for your customers to adapt and order products according to their wishes via different channels. Especially developments in eCommerce in recent years have shown interesting possibilities in the area of product configuration. The almost playful examination of your products, however, requires a consistent end-to-end solution and high user-friendliness.
The above four steps are a great place to start reducing revenue, margins, and time lost in a collaborative CPQ sales strategy. Manufacturers can achieve the following results:
- Cost reduction when completing an order.
- Minimize voting cycles.
- Decline in order reviewing.
- Reduction of the necessary support by specialist departments for the verification of offers.
- Faster and more accurate quotation.
Manufacturers now need to fix revenue, margins, and time lost in their joint sales strategies. Complex products that can already be configured in the sales process (direct and indirect), the need to improve supply and price accuracy, simplify ordering, and extend customization options are required.
To meet the expectations of potential and existing customers, businesses cannot just rely on sales to do business. It has to be genuine cooperation between multiple parties, all working towards common goals.
We support you
With our software solutions, we significantly reduce the time and personnel required for pricing and product configuration, especially for complex product variants with a large number of features and characteristics.
We advise you at eye level for an end-to-end solution that is tailored to your requirements, that records all relevant data continuously and can process this data automatically via a complex dependency – starting with the customer inquiry, through production and logistics to reporting.