Differences between CRM and CPQ: which tool helps you the best to increase sales?

Differenza-tra-CRM-e-CPQ-1In order to improve sales productivity, two acronyms appear frequently: CPQ and CRM. In the management of business processes and sales, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a sort of institution: it’s a platform for managing relations between the company and its active or potential customers. It can monitor and improve all the customer relationship experience, whether related to online or offline activities.

CRM records contact information, past experiences, business relationships, sales opportunities and much more. Used as a teamwork tool, CRM is the software that allows the company to structure customised marketing campaigns or provide the sales force with instructions for managing the relationship with the customer. In sales processes the CRM finds its best use in presales and post-sales activities but is not very effective at the time of sale.

In fact, CRM is a tool that allows the company to define commercial strategies and manage relationships between the company and the subjects with which it has (even only potential) business links, through the interaction of different business areas including sales, marketing and customer service.

A CRM can’t help you sell: you need a CPQ

Let’s get to the point: CRM is essential to give a strategic approach to commercial actions, but in practice it is not needed to sell. It is useful to manage the preparatory phase, sales actions and commercial network, but when you meet the customer it’s of no help. The outcome of the nogotiation is all in the hands of the seller.

The seller can decide to be assisted by catalogues, price lists, trustworthy e-mail or their own memory. They can manually configure the quote, or – more profitable hypothesis for the speed and success of the negotiation – they can decide to rely on digital solutions designed to maximize sales productivity, such as CPQ (Configure, Price and Quote). Although the two platforms can be integrated, CRM and CPQ are complementary and intervene in different phases of the sales cycle, each one with its own peculiarities: the wealth of information and the versatility of CRM, the agility, speed and effectiveness of CPQ.

A few words are enough to understand what it is and how essential a configure platform is. It deals with bringing together in a single application three fundamental steps of the negotiation with the customer: the quote configuration (Configure), which is anything but simple in front of customers who demand ever more particular mixes of products, variants and customisations; the correct pricing (Price), a very sensitive issue that is played on price lists, discounts and ad hoc conditions; the fast and efficient quote generation (Quote), for which the time factor is decisive.

But why is it essential to present yourself with CPQ on your tablet or smartphone, and you can’t rely on the classic price list, catalogue, pen and paper?

Simple: because speed, transparency and accuracy are fundamental. Think about the first point: anytime the customer asks for a peculiar mix of products or an ad hoc economic treatment the negotiation should be interrupted, for telephone calls, e-mails, CRM consultations and so on. In this scenario, a competitor could do better and before us. A CPQ with all the information updated in a centralised way by the Marketing Team allows the seller to show products and services surely available, build complex quotes and apply particular conditions with the peace of mind of acting on tracks pre-approved by the company, so as to avoid future corrections, interventions and adjustments that hurt customer confidence. With the odds phase, the CPQ ends its task, unless you opt for an all-in-one solution managing the entire sales cycle: starting from content management up to the contract generation and the order collection through the graphometric or remote electronic signature.

CRM and CPQ are therefore two different instruments: neither competitors nor antagonistic, but complementary. One is a teamwork tool used mainly by the back office that deals with the entire customer management, the other “triggers” its effectiveness at the time of sale. They work well independently, but the integration between the two is strategic for maximising results because it allows exploiting synergies and, above all, covering the various phases of commercial activity.

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