In this insightful podcast, Frank Sohn, President & CEO at Novus CPQ Consulting, the man behind the CPQ Podcast, shares his journey and insights into the Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) industry. In this episode we discuss the evolution of CPQ systems, the challenges faced in CPQ adoption, and the future trends in the industry, including the role of AI in CPQ. Frank also shares with us his hobbies and interests outside the CPQ world and offers advice for newcomers entering the industry.

Our guest is Frank Sohn, President & CEO at Novus CPQ Consulting, author of the CPQ Podcast and the host of this episode is Sergey Jermakov, Senior Partner at CLARITY.

In the realm of Configure, Price, Quote systems, the industry has seen a seismic shift over the years. From rudimentary product configurators to sophisticated systems that manage pricing, quoting, and even order management, CPQ has become a cornerstone for businesses aiming to streamline their sales processes.

“CPQ is a productivity increase for different areas of the business,” says Frank Sohn.

This article aims to offer a comprehensive view of the CPQ landscape, drawing on the insights of industry expert Frank Sohn, who has been at the forefront of CPQ innovations. His perspectives offer a deep dive into the complexities and future possibilities of CPQ systems.

Decoding the Evolution and Expansion of CPQ Systems

The CPQ industry has come a long way since its early days, where the focus was primarily on product configuration. Today, CPQ systems have evolved into robust platforms that handle a multitude of tasks, including pricing algorithms, quote generation, and even integrating with CRM and ERP systems.

CPQ systems have evolved to include not just configuration but also pricing and quoting.

This expansion has been driven by the growing complexity of products and services, as well as the need for businesses to offer customized solutions to meet client needs. The modern CPQ system is not just a sales tool but an integral part of a company’s business strategy, enabling data-driven decision-making and real-time analytics. As businesses continue to evolve, the role of CPQ systems in driving efficiencies and improving customer experiences cannot be overstated.

While the benefits of CPQ systems are manifold, their implementation is fraught with challenges. The complexity of these systems often necessitates a multi-disciplinary approach, involving stakeholders from sales, IT, and finance.

The benefits of CPQ systems are not always immediately apparent, which can make it difficult to secure buy-in from stakeholders.

The initial investment in terms of time and resources can be substantial, and the ROI may not be immediately visible. However, the long-term benefits, such as increased sales efficiency, error reduction, and customer satisfaction, make it a worthwhile investment. Organizations need to approach CPQ adoption as a strategic initiative, with clear objectives and KPIs to measure success. Understanding the full scope and potential of CPQ systems is crucial for overcoming the initial hurdles and realizing their long-term value.

Exploring Hobbies and Interests Outside the CPQ World

Beyond the confines of the CPQ industry, it’s essential for professionals to have diverse interests that offer a break from their routine. Whether it’s delving into historical literature, exploring different cultures, or engaging in outdoor activities, these hobbies provide a fresh perspective and can even inspire innovative solutions in one’s professional life.

“I enjoy reading and learning about different cultures, it gives me a fresh perspective,” Frank Sohn

A well-rounded individual brings more than just technical expertise to the table; they bring a unique worldview that can offer out-of-the-box solutions to complex problems. The importance of a balanced life cannot be overstated, as it not only enriches one’s personal life but also contributes to professional success.

As we look to the future, the CPQ industry is ripe for disruption, particularly with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of CPQ, from automating routine tasks to offering predictive analytics that can guide pricing strategies.

“I see AI playing a significant role in the future of CPQ, especially in predictive analytics.” Frank Sohn

However, the integration of AI into CPQ systems is not without its challenges. Organizations need to be cautious and strategic in their approach, ensuring that they are not adopting technology for the sake of being on the cutting edge, but rather to solve specific business challenges. The future of CPQ is not just about adopting the latest technologies but about leveraging them to solve real-world problems effectively.

Exploring AI in CPQ: Transformative Opportunities and Practical Challenges

The integration of AI into CPQ systems offers unprecedented opportunities for automation and data analytics. AI algorithms can sift through vast amounts of data to offer real-time pricing strategies, optimize discounting policies, and even predict customer behavior.

AI in CPQ can automate various aspects, but it also presents practical challenges like data security.

However, this also raises concerns about data security and ethical considerations. As businesses collect more data to feed into their AI algorithms, they must also invest in robust security measures to protect this data. Additionally, there is the challenge of managing expectations, as AI is often viewed as a silver bullet that can solve all problems, which is far from the truth. Understanding the limitations and capabilities of AI in CPQ is crucial for its successful integration.

Entering the CPQ Industry: Advice for Newcomers and the Path to Innovation

For those considering a career in the CPQ industry, the landscape is both challenging and rewarding. Newcomers should focus on gaining a holistic understanding of the industry, not just from a technical standpoint but also understanding the business challenges that CPQ aims to solve.

Newcomers should first get a general overview of the industry before specializing.

A multi-disciplinary approach, involving knowledge of sales processes, IT systems, and even behavioral psychology, can be invaluable. Once a solid foundation has been laid, one can specialize in various sub-domains, such as AI integration, data analytics, or customer experience optimization. The CPQ industry offers a plethora of opportunities for those willing to dive deep and continuously innovate.

The Bottom Line

The CPQ industry is at a pivotal point, with technological advancements offering unprecedented opportunities for innovation and growth. However, this also brings forth complex challenges that require a nuanced and strategic approach.

The future of CPQ is not just about technology but about solving real-world business challenges.

As businesses increasingly look to CPQ systems to streamline their sales processes and improve operational efficiency, the industry is set to grow exponentially. The future of CPQ is not just about technology but about solving real-world business challenges in a more efficient and data-driven manner.