What went on at Reimagine: moving from conversations to revenue with CPQ

Patricia Gallagher

September 10, 2020

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Reimagine, our first ever online event, took place this summer. While we missed the face time we usually get at events with our customers, partners, and prospects, Reimagine was chock full of informative sessions, keynotes, an expo, and even the opportunity for networking and customer conversations. Another big upside has been the availability of sessions on demand after-the-fact. Now you can access all sessions online, which means if you couldn’t join us live—or if you could, but couldn’t attend all of the sessions that interested you—you can now access those sessions whenever it’s convenient for you through the end of October.  

There were some distinct subject matter areas we covered, and an event “track” for each of them: Business Trends, CLM, Digital Documents, and CPQ. We’ve already looked back at three of the four subject matter “tracks” in previous posts. This post will focus on the CPQ (configure-price-quote) Track, which took a closer look at the benefits CPQ can bring to organizations as well as best practices to prepare for and implement it well. Other sessions in the track looked at the Quote-to-Cash process, and how CPQ and CLM are a powerful combination.  

Session 1: PwC panel discussion, “CPQ and CLM transformation readiness” 

Why does it matter if companies digitally transform the revenue operations that take place between the back office systems (like ERP) and front office applications (such as CRM), using solutions like CPQ and CLM? 

In a panel discussion of the strategies and techniques in preparing for successful revenue process transformation, especially between front and back office, PwC’s Romit Dey, Amit Dhir, Aparna Venkatarman, and Ryan Kim answer this question. Done well, the benefits of such a transformation are considerable. They include higher win rates, greater operational efficiencies, and improved customer experience, thanks to faster quote cycle times and greater order accuracy.  

The point made about customer experience is important, because PwC’s perspective is that business process transformation should start with a focus on the customer above all else. Understanding what the customer’s digital experience is going to be like throughout the customer journey is the framework on which lead-to-cash processes should be built. 

The panel discusses the most important aspects of CPQ readiness, and contributor Ryan Kim outlines the elements that should be in place prior to implementing technology, in the interest of setting up a successful initiative. They talk through the key enablers that help drive successful transformation, including subjects such as strategic alignment across the organization, effective change management, and standardized processes and KPIs, among others.  

The panel goes on to address areas to prioritize for pricing effectiveness in a post-Covid-19 era. According to Amit Dhir, the top three areas of focus are:  

  • Acceleration of new business models and trying new things, with a focus on pricing strategy and monetization models
  • Rigorous deal management, especially in margins and turn-around time
  • Integrations of quote-to-cash operations and of disparate systems both up- and downstream, and enabling analytics as a result of more coherent data 

Finally, the panel looks at the impact of technology, and how that should best be approached in order to influence success. Aparna Venkataraman presents a reference architecture that can serve as a business case for the technological components of revenue processes and how they fit together across the enterprise. The comprehensive architecture lays out all of the integration points that need to be addressed in a SaaS transaction path. 

Watch the session to get more in-depth information from the panelists’ discussion of pricing strategy, front office cloud technologies, and CPQ readiness. In total, the panel members help establish what common pitfalls are and how to best succeed in CPQ and CLM initiatives.  

Julie Bretoi, “CPQ’s role in driving customer-centric renewals in subscription businesses” 

Julie Bretoi, Chief Product Owner, for Order Capture CPQ at Thomson Reuters and Conga customer, is responsible for management and implementation of CPQ at that company. Her session covers three key insights on the essential topic of driving renewals and retaining customers, a subject that is fundamental to commercial operations for any business and more timely now than ever.  

In a conversation with Conga’s Adam Breakey, Director of Product Marketing, she discusses the role of CPQ in driving the customer-centric renewals that are an engine of many subscription businesses. Renewals are a key revenue producer, and Breakey points out that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to maintain an existing one.  

But there are challenges involved in getting renewals right which are perhaps familiar to many. You have to quote the right products to the right customers, and ensure that the renewal goes smoothly, whether a simple renewal of existing products or one including upsell.  

Many companies want to automate renewal tasks, so sellers spend less time on these laborious processes and more time focused on selling. However, it’s not always easy to do so. Renewal quotes can be complex, due to factors like product mix, time usage, uplift pricing, even if for a simple offering. 

According to Bretoi, commercial simplification and standardization is a key factor and the place to start. That is, a simplified approach to support how products are being sold, and to support quoting and renewals, particularly through simplifying product offerings or mix and pricing structures. Thomson Reuters reduced their product packages by 71% when they went through this process, helping accelerate CPQ implementation and creating a better experience for sales and customers alike.  

The results speak for themselves for Thomson Reuters. Sellers became more efficient with their time, and the implementation resulted in 95% fewer held orders, along with 63% fewer exceptions. These two factors spoke to a faster, easier to understand fulfilment process, all of which contributed to a bump in the company’s net promoter score.  

Second, Bretoi recommends taking a single platform view, bringing all applications onto a single application to create a consistent customer experience. This approach also produces more flexibility for sellers to meet the customer’s needs while maintaining compliance. Overall, a single platform also gives a cohesiveness to the customer’s experience of the company and provides access to enhanced data due to all data coming from a single application.  

Third, make it a goal to provide the quote that is best for the customer. Give the sales rep the flexibility to build the quote or contract that is best suited to the customer, while also remaining compliance. Even when the seller needs to get an approval, doing what is ultimately best for the customer is also in the best interest of the seller’s time and the company.  

Hear all of the details of Bretoi’s conversation with Breakey in her session, “CPQ’s Role in Driving Customer-Centric Renewals in Subscription Businesses.”  

Jackie Palmer, “Better together: why CPQ + CLM = QT-Three” 

In “Better together: why CPQ + CLM = QT-Three!”, Conga’s VP of Product Marketing shows us how CPQ combined with CLM is greater than the sum of the parts (in other words, why 1 plus 1 equals 3). 

To understand how CPQ and CLM fill a void in revenue processes, Palmer discusses the evolution of front and back office systems. Between ERP and CRM, there is a void where mission-critical, revenue generating processes aren’t covered by either. This often results in disjointed, disconnected processes between different parts of the organization.  

Yet, critical elements of commercial relationships are developed in that space, such as configuring, pricing, quoting, rebates, approvals, billing, deal management, self-service, renewals, promotions, e-commerce, order management, and contracts. These are critical inflection points, where revenue, margin, and customer satisfaction are defined for the organization. Often these elements of commercial operations aren’t managed well, so that the related processes involve manual tasks and old-school technology, or at least solutions that aren’t integrated. The result is a company-wide lack of integration and efficiency and the potential for errors that can damage customer relationships. 

Palmer goes on to explain how Conga solutions fill this void, from the expression of intent to buy through to recognizing revenue.  The Conga suite enables customers to seize on and maximizing these inflection points, which is the true key to achieving commercial excellence. 

This is a point that Palmer illustrates comprehensively when she talks about the significant business outcomes Conga customers have experienced. A recent customer survey illustrated real customer gains in key revenue process functions, such as: faster sales (by 7% to 25%), improvement in quote quality; faster time to quote; faster QTC Cycle, faster deal closure, etc.  

The story gets even better when Palmer discusses the gains that a few reference customers have made when improving these revenue process inflection points.  

Listen to her session to learn how: 

  • Brazilian airline manufacturer Embraer cut time to quote in half, increased selling time 20%, and reduced time spent generating reports by 80%
  • Extreme Networks, a network software and hardware manufacturer, reduced renewal quote time from days to minutes, saw an ROI of 141%, and recovered their investment in Conga in under 10 months
  • Box, the cloud content sharing platform, was able to automate the quoting process and cut manual work by 85% 

These examples explain why, in Palmer’s words,  1 + 1 = 3. The combined power of CPQ with CLM leads to extraordinary results and game-changing business outcomes. 

Winding up our series on Reimagine  

These were just three of the sessions in the CPQ track and at Reimagine as a whole. Watch all sessions from the track and from the event on demand on the event site. 

This is the fourth post in our series on Reimagine content, but you can always find out more and watch the sessions and keynotes that we haven’t covered on the event site through the end of October. 

Patricia Gallagher

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