When we’re talking about quotes for new business, it might be interesting to send out paraphrased ‘quotes’ to your prospective customers that would really grab their attention. We Googled up ‘top three world famous quotes’ and the number one slot came in at:
“To be or not to be, that is the question…”
From Act 3 of ‘Hamlet’ by the great Bard himself, William Shakespeare. But we’re not suggesting you send your prospective customers quotes like:
“Mac or Windows, that is the question…” as fights would probably break out in offices across the country!
But seriously, we‘re talking here about quotes for gaining customers; and not only the importance of getting them right, but also to be able to integrate them into your company’s Salesforce platform for extra added utility. This is where a Salesforce CPQ API comes into its own.
Hang on, enough acronyms already! CPQ stands for ‘Configure Price Quote’ and API is an Application Programming Interface. A CPQ platform is a software package, which ensures that all the possible relevant factors in producing a quote are considered, to ensure the accuracy and transparency of a final price generated. The API is a conduit that enables that quote to be processed by Salesforce once the CPQ has created it.
Now that’s all cleared up – how does it all work? Let’s use a fictional imaginary example of a joinery company that manufactures doors and windows for the construction industry.
Doors Are Us (DAU) have been approached by We Build Houses (WBH) for the supply of 250 front doors, 250 back doors and 2500 windows; as WBH are building a new housing project to start in the next couple of months.
That seems simple enough, all the sales team at DAU must provide is a quote, so you’d think that a spreadsheet could be created to account for the amount of timber in each front door, the area of glass in the glazing panels, the hinges, letterboxes and door furniture etc. When a cost price is calculated, the labor time for assembling the door plus the shipping cost gives a final price to the customer. Likewise, the same process is used for the windows quote.
However, WBH is building a prestigious development, so no two doors are likely to be absolutely identical. The customers purchasing houses from WBH, off-plan, have the option to choose from different door colors, different finishes for handles, order extra security features and the like. Customers can also choose white UPVC window frames or pay extra for hardwood. Now the simple spreadsheet calculation has become considerably more complex, but it can still be done using Excel, or say, Mac Numbers.
However, what a spreadsheet package cannot do is to flag up incompatibility issues in the ordering process. For example, one customer might have ordered a graphite gray door with RH hinges, four glazed panels and brushed aluminium door furniture. But it turns out that the supplier of the gray doors has placed the glazing panels in such a configuration that doesn’t allow the letterbox to be added – instead, the customer must order a separate ‘wall letterbox’ that WBH must fit as an addition.
A spreadsheet package could not alert the person creating the quote that the components asked for simply don’t fit together. This is where a CPQ platform wins because it uses AI (artificial intelligence) to instantaneously consider the vast number of interrelationships of components, letterboxes, hinges, draught excluder brushes, thumb-turners, extra security locks, frosted safety glazing etc. Not only does CPQ produce an accurate price within seconds, but it will also flag up potential problems and suggest alternative strategies.
So when the operator keys in the desired order, the CPQ platform might offer a tooltip: “Advisory! The customer will need a separate wall-mounted mailbox, please check with WBH. Otherwise, a three-glazed door panel is compatible…”
If configuring a quote for a front door is complicated, imagine what it’s like for a manufacturer supplying, say, electric vehicle spares or EV conversions! The more complex the product, the more you’ll need a CPQ platform.
When the CPQ has done its excellent work, and the final quote for the doors and windows for a given home has been created, the API that connects CPQ with Salesforce then sends that quote to the Salesforce platform. In turn, Salesforce then monitors manufacture, delivery, invoicing and any customer feedback.
It’s not going to be long before customers can choose options from quotes using technology like the Metaverse or VR (Virtual Reality) – like Tom Cruise in the movie ‘Minority Report’ – someone wishing to buy a door might just slip on a VR headset and use their hands in gestures to pull virtual components from thin air, discarding and adding them with a flick of a wrist, like a conductor in front of an orchestra!
As our world becomes smaller and more complex, and customer expectations rise because of ever-increasing tech facilities, it’s crucially important to keep quotes accurate, timely and transparent, to retain customers by keeping them satisfied.
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