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According to a recent Forrester report, 56% of B2B buyers make half or more of their purchase decisions online. eCommerce is no longer limited to the confines of traditional B2C companies like retailers or grocery chains. Today’s business buyers are pressed for time, have a multitude of choices, and have come to expect the simplicity they are accustomed to in their day to day lives. According to Andy Hoar of Forrester, “B2B buyers now insist on an ‘Amazon-like’ customer experience with real-time interaction, extensive price and inventory transparency, and robust guided selling.”

Whether you’re in the space of building highly customized parts and materials or you build widgets to stock — there is no denying that competing only on price and availability is not the way forward. More and more, the purchasing experience, including simplicity, speed, and flexibility, has as much perceived value as what’s being purchased. In a recent article by Forbes, Louis Columbus state's, “...Manufacturers struggle to deliver multichannel and omnichannel customer experiences that meet buyer’s expectations.”

So, what can you do differently to stand out from your competitors? Here are a few considerations to help you rethink some of the most critical touchpoints with your buyers.

1. Omni-channel

Omni-channel can mean different things to different companies. Multi-tiered selling equates to channel partners, who need access to the right pricing, product information, and quoting capabilities so your customers can easily access your products through your network of resellers, distributors, and partners. It can also mean having a consistent buying experience across regions, systems and platforms, and online and offline channels. Uniform pricing and discounting can also contribute to a richer and more consistent buying experience.

2. Quoting

Automating your complex product catalog so it supports all the dependencies, exclusions, and pricebooks depending on region makes it easier for customers to create their own quotes or for reps to quickly deliver new quotes. It also eliminates time wasted when your sales team has to sift through Excel sheets and ERP systems just to build a quote.

3. Flexibility

Make it easy for your buyer to choose you by giving them options in configuration, pricing, and bundling. Further personalize the solutions you are presenting by bringing offers that fit the buyer.

4. Field sales

A mobile sales team needs a mobile quoting solution. It gives them back precious selling time that was previously wasted searching complex product catalogs, capturing prospect requirements, building potential options, calculating pricing, considering budget, and so much more. Automation makes it, well, automatic by assembling all the right quote options within minutes, and it ensures your team is way ahead of the slow, manual competition.

5. Renewals and upgrades

One consideration that many manufacturers struggle to perfect is incorporating services and other add-ons. These can be an avenue for not just additional revenue, but for positioning the next best offer or upgrade. Take a look at your go to market strategy for a new service plan, for example. Could your teams effectively and consistently bundle in that service plan every time they position a related deal? If your team is already doing that, can you take it further and build an automated renewal to these service plans so future revenue is never interrupted?

6. Data and reporting

Are you able to report on revenue by product line, channel, discount variations by region, and product demand by region with ease? Doing business the old way means teams spend hours manually assembling excel reports and consolidating data from multiple systems — and yet they’re still not confident in the accuracy of those reports. You need a single platform that houses all relevant data and that has reliable reporting capabilities, giving you accurate reports in a few clicks, not a few days.

Rapid change is sweeping through the manufacturing industry. Automation is happening to every facet, and now reaching into sales and the customer experience. And it’s no longer a future aspiration, it’s today’s competitive advantage. The power of Salesforce CPQ helps you sell when you want, how you want, and most importantly, how your customers want. With guided selling, your reps can quickly choose the best offer to position to every customer. The power of Salesforce on desktop or mobile allows them to build branded quotes while on the go, in minutes, at a customer site. Enforcing product, pricing, and discounting guardrails ensures every deal that goes out maintains acceptable margins. End to end data from opportunity to contract resides on the #1 trusted CRM, giving you the confidence in critical data that empowers you to make decisions that will take your business to new heights.

Salesforce CPQ helps you give your customers a better experience. That’s what they’re demanding, and that’s what you need to deliver on top of your great products.

Watch the On-Demand webinar to learn how Salesforce CPQ helps Manufacturing organizations of all sizes succeed.