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18 MAY

5 Ways Product Configurators can Transform Sales for Manufacturers

by Kris Harrington

Manufacturing is a complex industry. A single piece of equipment can have 100,000 different potential configurations. So creating a way for customers to configure equipment quickly has become critical for online success. That’s where product configurators come in.

A digital product configurator is a tool that simplifies the equipment selection and buying process. Customers and distribution partners can configure equipment to meet specific performance requirements. They also have access to the price and availability of different equipment configurations in real-time. A product configurator improves efficiency, reduces errors, and makes quoting and/or buying customer equipment easy. We’re going to dive deeper into 5 ways product configurators add value for both manufacturers and their customers.

The Benefits of Product Configurators

1. Generate faster quotes

The traditional quoting process uses up one of manufacturers’ and customers’ most valuable resources—time. Having to call, email, or visit in person to get a quote for a unique piece of equipment can consume many hours and often several meetings between the manufacturer and customer to get things right. By providing customers or channel partners with an online configuration tool to make a series of features or options selections, this time can be greatly reduced. Receiving quotes instantly improves efficiency for everyone involved, and helps to shorten sales cycles. This is particularly helpful in the budgeting process, where quotes are needed quickly in preparation for future capital budgeting decisions.

2. Reduce errors and costs

Allowing customers to configure the equipment on their own gets rid of the human error that can occur when this process is done via email, on the phone, or through spreadsheets. And while a single error might not seem like much, it could mean potentially thousands of dollars of costs. For example, what if a piece of equipment can be used in hot or cold environments, but needs a different configuration to do so? By using a product configurator manufacturers can ask customers to select the type of environment they will operate the machine in, this will ensure the proper configuration is selected to meet their operational requirements. Or what if there are multiple horsepower options to choose from based on expected productivity or performance? With an online configurator, those questions can be asked and specifications can easily be met. These types of questions can lead to auto-generated answers (based on a configuration rules engine) that will give buyers confidence they’re getting exactly what they need.

3. Increase deal values

The digital option to configure equipment makes it easier to upsell and suggest add-ons that will improve deal values. When a customer clicks on a drop-down for a particular option, there’s the opportunity to automatically suggest multiple alternatives (which can vary in price), this can even include maintenance services or additional warranty packages that they may not have been aware of or have been presented with otherwise. Also, making the product configurator optimized within an eCommerce platform means that while they’re configuring the equipment, there will be other products that customers often purchase that are suggested like maintenance kits and accessories that will lead to additional sales.

4. Improve customer experience

Everyone is used to digital purchasing experiences in their personal lives, and they bring those expectations to work with them. If you’re wondering how much buyers would spend in a fully remote or hybrid purchasing experience, in a recent article McKinsey & Company answered that question, “71 percent of buyers are willing to spend more than $50,000 in a single transaction, and 27 percent would spend $500,000 or more.” Buyers are looking for a simplified and efficient way to quote and buy online, so manufacturers need to provide that.

5. Support the sales team

When customers can use a self-service tool like a product configurator to create quotes and order equipment, this frees up the sales team to shift from transactional activities to solution selling. Salespeople can focus on the activities that bring greater value to customers and ultimately create greater revenue for manufacturers. In addition to time, a product configurator also works as a sales tool. Rather than using outdated methods like selecting features from a word document or a spreadsheet, salespeople can virtually or with a handheld device, show potential customers different equipment variations instantly, making it easier to show the value a manufacturer can add.

Conclusion

Digital sales continue to grow for manufacturers, and those that can offer the best possible online experience will set themselves apart. Offering a digital product configurator is a key piece in doing just that. Manufacturers can improve efficiency, and cut costs, all while increasing customer satisfaction. It’s time to give customers the online purchasing experience they’ve been looking for.

If you want to see firsthand how a product configurator can help your business, head to genalpha.com/request-a-demo.

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