Simplus Product Series #5 — Attribute-based configuration

by Erich Rusch

Once your company has the right set of products and all of your information is stored in the product catalog, the next major step that organizations take in their Quote-to-Cash journey is to develop relationships between the products. When you’re in a selling situation, it’s common to have a set of master products—known as high-level assemblies, models, or bundles—that serve as the foundation of all configurable products. 

We discussed the details of this in our previous blog post, but there is one key point that we left out: attribute-based configuration. This blog will review why it’s so important, an example of it, and how to use it in your product catalog.

 

Why attribute-based configuration is important

In many organizations, we work with the sales reps who don’t care about the specific products that are included in the configurations; they care more about the holistic solution they are selling their customers. To truly transform your selling process, you must go beyond simply selecting the correct features and options to asking the fundamental questions that will enable you to develop the right solution for your customers! Attribute-based configuration makes you confront those questions.

 

An example of attribute-based configuration

Building on our previous example of the computer, we can start to see this in action. Computers have many different uses across many different industries. Consulting firms, for example, might need a cost-effective, middle-of-the-road computing platform, whereas an engineering or scientific firm might need something higher performing. 

As a sales rep, you might want to ask the question “What business application does the client want to run?” with options like 1) Personal 2) Business or 3) Engineering / Scientific. Further complicating our selling process is the fact that not one set variable makes a computer faster. In processor-limited applications, the CPU is the bottleneck; in memory-limited applications, the RAM is the bottleneck; and in storage-limited, the SSD or HDD is the bottleneck. This means that three features—the processor, memory, and storage—will change when we change the attribute for “What business application does the client want to run?” 

 

How to use attribute-based configuration

In this example, what we’ve done is created an abstraction away from the low-level features and options. This leads us to a high-order question, which allows us to take tribal knowledge out of Salesforce and put intelligence into the platform. 

Now, if the rep knew of some compelling use case that wasn’t captured, they are more than welcome to select the application and override the feature and option selections if the selling situation dictates that they must. The point is that you have the flexibility to create efficiencies that get deals done while keeping in place guardrails so you don’t end up selling products that you can’t fulfill!

 

Attribute-based configuration is a great way to mature your organization’s CPQ and product catalog. Next up, we’ll look at nested configurations as yet another way to optimize the system. Stay tuned!

 

erichErich Rusch is Director of CPQ Presales Solutions at Simplus. Co-founder and CSO of CirrusOne until joining Simplus, Erich has years of experience in the CPQ space and has unparalleled expertise in cloud solutions.

erich.rusch@simplus.com