For many companies, 2023 has been off to a rocky start at best. Technology companies are feeling immense pressure to adjust for the previous year’s bullish projections and forced to make tough decisions in budget cuts and staffing reductions. Revenue and operations leaders are in the hot seat to maintain revenue, while B2B buyers are increasingly selective about where and how they invest their limited funds. A question that must be answered is: Are we truly enabling buyers to buy how they want to buy? B2B buyers expect to be treated as partners — not targets. If revenue leaders expect to win, retain, and grow customers now and through the eventual recovery, they need to adapt and enable these empowered B2B buyers with convenience and transparency.
Empowered B2B buyers expect the same 24/7 convenience and personalized content for their self-guided discovery and purchases at work as they do in their daily consumer lives. Configure, price, quote (CPQ) solutions that enable direct sellers and channel partners to put together quotes and proposals quickly and accurately are also delivering for new buyers and existing customers via self-service — richer, guided customer experiences in the late evaluation and decision phases of their buying journey. This requires a more omnichannel, digital approach that lets buyers self-direct their preferred journey and define their solution and purchase options. Our recent research highlights how prevalent these trends are as CPQ solutions integrated with B2B e-commerce solutions are simplifying their ability to share and manage common configuration rules and pricing logic to serve their sellers, resellers, distributors, and direct buyers to deliver powerful and scalable omnichannel sales.
In The Configure, Price, Quote Solutions Landscape, Q1 2023, we reviewed the capabilities and business cases for 37 CPQ vendors. The core use cases cover configuration design, pricing and discount management, and quote and document generation, while extended use cases address needs such as subscription management, pricing optimization, and self-service purchasing. While CPQ is a mature market, the landscape research uncovered some noteworthy trends:
- Digital omnichannel sales will become the backbone of go-to-customer strategies, enabling buyers to buy with consistent experiences through any channel preference, direct, partner, or self-service. With the recent shifts in B2B buying behaviors, it is no surprise that most of the participating vendors support self-service purchases and offer subscription management to facilitate customer changes in subscriptions over their lifetime. Forrester predicts that by 2027, e-commerce will account for 24% of US B2B sales, and CPQ solutions are quickly employing e-commerce capabilities to deliver on the expectations of today’s empowered buyers.
- Dynamic solutions and optimized pricing are in demand. Empowered B2B buyers want rich and customizable experiences that are responsive and easy to navigate. Successful B2B digital commerce requires intuitive guided solution generation and optimized pricing that benefits both buyers and sellers. The use of AI and machine learning is enabling data captured from buyers’ digital journeys to derive sales insights that guide the tailored solution design and pricing. That in turn improves the buyer experience and shortens the sales cycle, increasing sales capacity.
- Specialized configurators leverage 3D and augmented/virtual reality. Particularly for companies selling physical goods, as in manufacturing and industrial products, many of the vendors we reviewed offered 3D configuration visualizations. Enabling sellers and buyers alike to configure these solutions in real time, visualize different options, and quickly get to a customized product with parts in inventory that is deliverable with pricing is creating great experiences that accelerate sales.
Check out the recent report to learn more about the CPQ market and the capabilities that are addressing the expectations of today’s empowered buyers. The full report helps sales and revenue operations leaders understand how CPQ solutions are delivering today and evolving to the current market and buyer trends and the capabilities offered across the vendors. Over the next few months, we will publish a Forrester Wave™ evaluation that will look at the top CPQ providers and see how they are leaning into these disruptions to drive greater opportunity.