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Complex Product Configurations and Customer Collaboration in the Field
Better than the Back of a Napkin: Complex Product Configurations and Customer Collaboration in the Field
When EMD Millipore, a division of Merck, realized they needed to be more customer-oriented and get quotes out faster, they turned to Salesforce and Appexchange partner, KBMax, to create a custom app to work with Salesforce to speed up custom product orders and pricing. Salesforce’s Tom Ladka, Success Manager, hosts Michele Smith, Business Tools Manager for EMD Millipore’s Global Pharma Processing division. In this Dreamforce session, Smith explains the process of advancing field technology by providing a program to produce complex product configurations and quotes.
EMD Millipore’s successful implementation allows them to streamline processes, increase sales and raise overall customer satisfaction.
Custom Sales App Make Complex Configurations and Pricing Simple
EMD Millipore provides innovative laboratory supplies, tools, and set-ups, and has a large number of custom orders. Previously most of their orders had been stainless steel, but with the introduction of plastics materials in lab equipment EMD suddenly had a large array of options to provide to their customers. Smith notes that one product could have 318 different configurations. With such a variety of customizations, the sales staff had a difficult task of presenting all these options to the customer effectively.
Salespeople at EMD are scientists and trusted advisors; “back-of-the napkin” drawings and powerpoint presentations could not adequately show customers the conceivable configurations and made quoting a price during the sales meetings almost impossible. Even after a product had been decided on by the customer, it could be rejected by the design team because it wouldn’t function properly or cost more than the quoted price. This flawed system was losing market shares, and as a result EMD knew they need to make a change.
EMD’s ultimate goal was to create a sales process that would be quick, cost effective, and accurate. Having used Salesforce’s sales productivity software since 2005, EMD found the solution by creating a configuration app to integrate into Salesforce. “Seventy-five percent of what we needed was in Sales Force, we could create the opportunity in Sales Force, we had approval processes in Sales Force, and we could create a PDF quote.”
EMD Millipore wanted sales productivity software that would allow sales advisors to create custom products while with their customers, check the validity of configurations, and even provide an immediate quote.
In order to achieve this goal EMD Millipore partnered with KBMax an Appexchange partner. KBMax developed an application on the Customer 360 Platform. While it is possible to create a custom sales app for Android and a custom sales app for iPad, EMD opted for a custom sales app to work on laptops. This KBMax custom product configuration EMD’s Sales Cloud service provides all the functions to improve custom configurations and quotes for their customers.
The new solution gave the sales staff access to a drag-and-drop feature that allowed them to create custom products for their customers, allowing customers to visualize the product configurations exactly. The program also gave the ability to recognize faulty designs before they were even submitted, avoiding delays in the design stage. Once completed, the custom product configuration program creates a bill for the products and allows the sales advisors to immediately give an accurate quote.
Smith reports that implementing this new custom app has had a tremendous effect on the sales process. The initial quote time has been reduced from an average of two hours to approximately thirty minutes. The number of revisions needed for a customized product has been reduced from ten or more to fewer than than three, with the majority of the changes initiated by the customer based on preference and not as a result of error. Most importantly, the design that accompanies the quote is available instantly, allowing the customer to feel confident in their decision. as a result of the new sales productivity software, the organization is “much more collaborative in nature, [has] much less friction, and we appear to our customers much more confident,” says Smith. The custom configurations made the sales process, more cost effective, and grew their bottom line.
As with all good software implementations, it is best practice to implement in stages. What’s next for EMD? Smith says they plan to standardize workflows across product types and possible introduce a partner portal for distributors to develop configurations and quotes. Also, says Smith, there are plans to create a sales app for iPad. Possibly a sales app for Android could come later.
Tips for Custom Configurations in Salesforce
Many companies have complex products or demanding circumstances, much like EMD Millipore. To adapt to the needs of field sales reps, many companies consider adding compatible functionality to their sales productivity software or sales apps for Android or sales apps for iPad.These mobile tools can give a company a huge advantage in the sales market, but it is important to approach these tools intelligently.There are a number of best practices that can help any company succeed in expanding their sales productivity software:
Do you need customization? Understand the awesome features of your current Salesforce license. Many sales productivity software users don’t understand how powerful the available functions are in their current instance of Salesforce. Understanding the current features and functionality will help in evaluating needs.
Identify and communicate the necessary tasks your custom app needs to perform. Plan the app based on company objectives.Before commissioning custom features, have an in-depth understanding of the proposed app and how it will fill company needs. It is important that the company communicates with both their sales and their IT department or Appexchange partner to ensure objective will be met. By involving employees early on, a company can ensure they will be designing a tool their sales reps will use. Additionally, consider if sales apps for Android or sales apps for iPad will be necessary, or if a customization for PC or Mac is suitable.
Define specific goals for the customization and stay within these parameters. “A lot of people, want a lot of things when doing a project like this,” warms Smith. Remember when a company introduces new sales productivity software, they are introducing it to a body of employees who all have different ideas on how this new product should be used. While employee input is essential for success, attempting too much on the initial rollout makes it difficult to effectively execute change. Companies can avoid this problem by defining specific goals. Once the initial focus has been accomplished, the the company can look at other possibilities.
Provide consistent rollout and thorough training. It is also important to be well-informed about the functions of the new program.This clarity will guarantee that a company won't miss out on important aspects of the new software or create additional programs because they don’t understand the full capabilities of their new product. By taking time to study the new software and learning the needs and wants of the employees companies can ensure that the new software starts out on the right foot.
With implementation of custom sales productivity software features, consistency is key. If each team that deploys the software does so differently, the company will be forced to spend a great deal of time and resources clearing up confusion, consolidating data, and eliminating redundant programs or procedures. To ensure a consistent rollout, establish a simple plan for implementation and provide a support group in Chatter to make sure each step is handle the same way in each team.
Custom applications for complex product configurations help companies better serve their customers with efficient and accurate quotes while giving their field reps the credibility to be trusted advisors. Custom apps can be created to make planning and pricing easier in the field. Sales apps for iPad and sales app for Android are also available. Success in adoption depends on proper execution. For a company to succeed with new sales productivity software, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the custom app’s objectives and make sure there is consistent execution.