Episode 30 May 13, 2021

B2B Reimagined: Ep 30 | From the Shopping Cart to the Shop Floor with Steve Stessman (KBMax)

Zilliant General Manager of Commercial Excellence Barrett Thompson welcomes Steve Stessman, vice president of business development at KBMax, to the program. On the agenda today? Digital transformation and innovation in B2B eCommerce for manufacturing companies. Steve’s long-time focus has been helping manufacturers leverage technology to deliver a real-time, consistent experience from the shopping cart to the shop floor.

Learn how B2B companies are innovating in digital commerce through personalization, customer empowerment and choice, while ensuring product configuration and dynamic pricing capabilities deliver maximum benefit to both the buyer and seller.

Read the blogs mentioned in the episode here:

Why Dynamic Pricing Matters in B2B eCommerce How B2B Manufacturers Solve the Configured Pricing Puzzle
Featuring
Steve Stessman

Steve Stessman

If it's a rush order, the customer needs something in seven days, that's fine. Then charge them for it. I think people are less price conscious if they've had an opportunity to choose themselves to solve their problem and understand that there are parameters. Like if they need it in a rush, then they have to pay more.
- Steve Stessman, KBMax

Episode Transcript

Steve Stessman: And then, if it's a rush order, but this is a perfect example, the customer needs something in seven days. That's fine. Then charge them for it. It's like, I think people are less price conscious if they've had an opportunity to choose themselves to solve their problem and understand that there are parameters. Like if they need it in a rush, then they have to pay more.

Barrett Thompson: Hello everyone. My name is Barrett Thompson. I'm the General Manager of Commercial Excellence at Zilliant. And I'll be your host for our podcast. I'm joined today by Steve Stessman, vice president of business development at KBMax. Steve, welcome to B2B Reimagined.

Steve Stessman: Well, thanks for having me Barrett.

Barrett Thompson: Steve in order that our listeners could get to know you a little more, both the person, as well as the business executive, I've got a couple of rapid fire questions for you. I hope you’re game. Steve, how long have you been working with manufacturing?

Steve Stessman: Probably about half of my career worked directly for two major home builder and another manufacturing organization. Now, currently I'm working in the SaaS space to work with manufacturers every day.

Barrett Thompson: Sounds great. Have you ever been told you look like a famous person and if so, who was it?

Steve Stessman: [00:02:00] I have, I've heard it several times that I look like Dan Aykroyd. And I don't see the resemblance, however, my family and several of my previous employers, they changed the picture at the front of the store, from my picture to Dan Aykroyd's picture. So maybe it is, maybe it rings true.

Barrett Thompson: Maybe that can get you a meal at a celebrity restaurant sometime, if you play your cards right and the lights are low. Steve, what is your favorite decade and why would it be sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, or pick your own.

Steve Stessman: That's a great question. I would say right now is my favorite decade. I think life is so good. I mean, it moves fast now and everything's been, a little bit challenging, but the opportunities ahead of us and the technology that we have available to take advantage of it's just unprecedented.

So yeah, I love the, I love this decade. I’m one of those guys where my best day is today.

Barrett Thompson: I appreciate that. I appreciate that. Well, let's build on that momentum. [00:03:00] Today we're going to talk about digital transformation and innovation in B2B eCommerce for manufacturers. B2B eComm can be extremely complex and so simplifying and improving on that would seem like a worthwhile goal.

In this conversation, we're going to look at how personalization, empowerment and choice yields benefits to the buyer and the seller. So to start off, Steve, I'd like to get a quick overview from you of KBMax: the company, the solutions, and how you simplify the complex.

Steve Stessman: Sure. I think the best way I can describe it is initially is we go from the customer's shopping cart to the shop floor and how we do that is we play a big role in what the customer puts in the shopping cart. Because during that process, as the customer's making choices in the background, we're creating all the quote information, as well as bills of material, everything the manufacturer needs. Because a lot of times, [00:04:00] unfortunately, when a customer wants something and they talk to a salesperson potentially, and then it goes through the back office things get lost in translation. So we try to definitely streamline that process. Barrett, another thing that we do is we're able to allow a manufacturer to use the same configurator. Across all levels, whether it's on their marketing platform or through a distributor or through internal employees, they can use the same configurator, which, sometimes always isn't the case. Where a distributor will have a spreadsheet or marketing will have one configurator and the salespeople have another configurator. And that causes confusion in the manufacturing process as well as potential customer.

Barrett Thompson: When a manufacturer doesn't have configuration tools or satisfactory configuration tools, how do they get this ETO and CTO work done?

Steve Stessman: It's a new technology you may have heard of. It's called human beings. [00:05:00] So a lot of times, manufacturing folks, they have grit because it's very tough to manufacture and sell, and they really rely on people a lot to close the gaps between what the customer's dreaming up and what they can actually build.

And one person may figure it out, but then unfortunately it's difficult to get that information translated across an entire organization. So, human beings make a huge difference. And then you'll find with many manufacturers, as I talk to every single day, using amazingly complicated Excel spreadsheets.

I talked to a customer just this week that was using an access database that they were scared to touch because they didn't have anybody else in the company that knew even knew how to fix it if it went down, so it's this combination of humans and frankly, cobbled together resources to get the job done.

Barrett Thompson: Yeah. This pattern looks familiar to me. [00:06:00] On the one hand, humans have tremendous amount of knowledge in their heads. They have experience at doing these things, but either the fragility or the time delays or the potential loss and handoff from stage to stage, risk of information loss feels like those are things that we want to squeeze out and we want to do that with some automation or technology enablement. Is that the play that you're really running the KBMax?

Steve Stessman: Absolutely. We're not trying to eliminate the human element. I think the idea really is for us is how do we give the human beings a tool so they can have a great conversation with their customer or allow the customer to do some of the work on them by themselves. Without relying on all the homegrown knowledge that maybe one person may have versus another person. So what we're trying to do is take all of that tribal knowledge, so to speak and put it in the cloud.

Barrett Thompson: I could see that gives you both a comprehensiveness and a consistency, right? Individuals can be strong. What they might be strong in [00:07:00] a small part of the business that they're most familiar with and maybe not as strong in others. So I can appreciate the benefits of consolidating that knowledge into one place and then turning it back to the organization with the technology set like you're talking about. So let's think then about the B2B eCommerce experience.

What is the number one reason that innovation is required in B2B eCommerce in your opinion?

Steve Stessman: Well, the number one is that the marketplace is demanding it, business to business buyers, they want frankly, an Amazon-like experience, they want to be able to go on and model things out on their shopping cart, think about it, maybe have the meetings with their approver, whoever has to approve it to talk about it. That's the number one reason that's driving it. And I think there's a couple other ones that, with manufacturing, the amount of labor available to either do the manufacturing work or to sell it is scarce.

And if you have systems that are cumbersome, that are reliant on[00:08:00] knowledge gained with every sale, it's hard to pass it along to the next generation. So I think it's really a couple of things there.

Barrett Thompson: I've heard some other trends. I wonder if they play as strongly in B2B manufacturing eCommerce, as I've heard in some others, I've heard that buyers are seeking a personalized experience in that eCommerce world.

They're looking for some sort of tailoring familiarity, a process that is a guided selling process. That's going to their vertical industry or fit the kind of solution they're seeking. What have you seen in that regard?

Steve Stessman: Absolutely. So buyers want choice. They want to be able to deal with their situation and you see, this really plays out with like a larger manufacturer that has a lot of distributors and those, the smart manufacturers realize that some of their distributors are one or two person shops, and somebody's got to sit at the dining room table at night and order from the [00:09:00] manufacturer when the salesperson isn't working for the manufacturer. So to me, it shows remarkably good insight and understanding on the part of the manufacturer, knowing that the world doesn't operate nine to five again.

And people have to get the work done when they can get the work done, especially when they want to serve every customer. And the easiest way to do that is to have a great B2B eCommerce experience.

Barrett Thompson: Let's talk a little bit about the relationship that the buyer has to the seller. I think pre eCommerce that relationship was chiefly carried and represented by the direct sales rep.

The one that owned the account, that was the person that the buyer knew and they spoke to. And really that was the embodiment of the organization. Maybe plus whatever the fulfillment experience is like. What happens in the eCommerce world? What is the buyer taking their cues from? How do they experience the company?

And what would you say is kind of the state of maturity as far as that experience goes?

Steve Stessman: Yeah, I think let's see there's a little bit to unpack there. So I [00:10:00] think, people still buy from people, so in a B2B relationship, maybe that first transaction or the second transaction after there's been an initial introduction is done by the salesperson, but subsequent transactions, a lot of times someone buying from a manufacturer, they just don't have time. They don't do an hour meeting on site. They will be able to work through stuff, because it's just, they know that if they talk to a salesperson onsite, they're going to give up an hour. Because it’s just out of respect to the salesperson.

So I think just time becomes precious. And so I think past that initial introduction, they want a tool that they can use to personalize and meet their business needs.

Barrett Thompson: Maybe it sounds like there are certain cases where the sales rep becomes more important, perhaps introducing a new product line, new capabilities, talking about some material change in the relationship, and then places where that sales rep could be less important, [00:11:00] making the monthly drop by, shake your hand kind of meeting take up the hour that I don't have. Take an order for things that I've already spec’d. And now I'm just good. I'm into my production cycle and I need to just get quantity each month in order to make my production plans. Those may be things that fit more into the eCommerce, I don't need anyone to help me kind of paradigm.

Steve Stessman: Yeah especially when you, so think about when a base model may change. You don't really need a salesperson to explain it. You need to understand, like, this is what my need is. Oh, okay. Model XYZ was last year. This is the new one that fits this need.

I don't need, as long as the eCommerce experience allows the buyer to understand what they're buying. They really don't. And to your point, replacement parts or things that are already spec’d. Gartner had a survey out where it’s over 50% of the B2B buyers didn't they don't want to talk to a salesperson.[00:12:00]

It just goes to time, time is precious.

Barrett Thompson: Yeah, we've heard the same. Don't want to, or for the activity I'm trying to complete I really don't need to, I really don't need to, and in years past one of the activities where I think the need to was very great and I think it might be changing now was when it came to figuring out a configuration that works for me.

I'm going to call on the manufacturer. There are lots of configuration choices here. Some may be better than others. There might be some that are infeasible. And I needed someone to guide me through that. Talk to me about how KBMax has taken even that experience out of the domain of strictly human and put it into the domain of enabled and intelligent software.

Steve Stessman: It's really a combination. So, whatever the user experiences we can guide them because the salespeople. Certainly the best salespeople. We can literally take the questions they would ask in an onsite session and build them into the UI and say, okay, Mr. Customer, [00:13:00] if you want this. If we start out with thousands of products, if we ask the right kind of questions, we can help the customer, narrow it down and ask further questions to make sure that the customer gets everything they need with it.

And so we're able to do that with a guided selling process, but on the backside we put rules in the configurator that we can make sure a couple of things. Number one, is that we saved the buyer from themselves that they don't buy unnecessary things or the wrong thing. And number two, the rules allow a manufacturer to manufacture things that are best for the manufacturer. It's very easy to look at. I was at a meeting today as a sale, as part of a sales cycle. And I was just going to say, yes, it doesn't really matter to me if it's 5% difference in price or whatever, I'm just going to figure out how to close the deal.

And I don't think I'm dissimilar, based off my experience of managing literally thousands of salespeople over the course of my career. They just want to get the deal done. [00:14:00] And if it's hard for the manufacturer to do well, you know then it's hard and that's okay. That's from the perspective of a salesperson. Anytime they asked me about an implementation, it's not very difficult because I don't have to do it.

Barrett Thompson: Of course.

Steve Stessman: That's probably a simple example, but yeah. It's just a mindset thing. We can protect the customer from themselves and we can also with our rules, make sure that it's good for the manufacturer.

Barrett Thompson: Steve back when I first learned to drive, we won't say how long ago that was, but you can probably peg it here. There was no such thing as self-service gasoline, it had to be pumped by an attendant and there was sort of this mystique around it. Like that's an operation that only a trained pump attendant can. But, the veil was lifted and we learned that's really not a skill that's only for the few.

We can empower the many to do that. And so we have. Years ago, when I looked at some configuration tools, I got the sense that they were specialist tools that you needed to be [00:15:00] trained. You needed to be on the inside. You needed to have special experience or somehow it was going to get away from you. What I hear you saying is this technology has maybe cross that threshold where it really can be put in the hands of every buyer, used safely, used smartly, take you where you want to go. And you don't need a specialist. On the other side, the tool is performing that specialist role for you. Is that the guided selling you were referring to?

Steve Stessman: Yeah, that's exactly the case. You'll find most salespeople, most great salespeople in my experience have like three or four questions that really help them narrow down the choices. So they don't overwhelm the customer with the choices. So a lot of times we are able to do is talk with the manufacturer, whoever selling and say, look, what are the best questions?

Like, how do we narrow down from, literally thousands of choices. Three or five because customers just get overwhelmed, but they have to make too many choices. So we're able to do that. And then combine all of the appropriate things that go with the [00:16:00] primary product in a very seamless fashion.

And then in the background produce all the drawings and the CAD output and bills of materials that the manufacturer needs to go to business. So you don't need a person to connect the dots all the time. As long as the customer likes your idea, your product, and you have rules on how it should be sold.

We can extract that and put that into in our system and allow the manufacturer’s customers to really self-select and take care of the sales process themselves in the time that they have.

Barrett Thompson: And as you mentioned earlier, the odd hour that they've allocated, it could be nine o'clock at night when a sales rep might not be available anyway.

But that's the time when I'm going to sit down, go through my process, get the configuration done, and you've taken the scary part out of it. So that's something I can do for myself now.

Steve Stessman: It becomes a time-saver if you think about it, like if I need to reach out to a sales rep to buy whatever or a new system.

So I got to send them an email [00:17:00] or texts, then I got to coordinate calendars. And then I got to do the meeting, which will take at least a half an hour. And then I've got to wait for the paperwork to come back from the salesperson and I got to shift and then I got to get the PO and then, it becomes this, it's a lot of steps, a lot of little steps.

Whereas, when the customer has an opportunity they can hop into the configurator that they have access to it from their supplier and build and choose and create and make decisions without all of that. So it's a big time saver.

Barrett Thompson: I hear another theme in there. It's a little bit intangible, but you know, I want to call it out and see if you recognize this or have more to add, it feels like that experience bringing the buyer together at a time of their choosing in a time saving way. In a solution that guides them to make safe and wise choices together that feels like we're empowering them. We're giving them an empowerment and doing business with me doing business that way that they might not get, if they had to go [00:18:00] old school, wait for someone to come visit, go through the old dance of asking the questions and doing all those other pieces and parts.

So is empowerment one of the things that your customers and manufacturing tell you they want to give and are knowingly giving to customers, or am I just overlaying that because that's the way I see the world?

Steve Stessman: No, I think empowerment's a good choice. And really the focus should be is allowing, if I'm a manufacturer, I want my customers to be able to buy when and where and how they would like to purchase.

Because at the end of the day, I want to keep my manufacturing facility running as fast, as hard as they possibly can as efficiently as possible. And so I don't want to wait for a sales cycle. I want to tighten it down. I want to win the customer and then give the customer the ability to do exactly that.

Buy when and where and how they would like to.

Barrett Thompson: I appreciate that. The themes we've chatted about so far, the personalization, the choice, the empowerment, those describe the benefits to the buyer. And indeed there are many, and I think [00:19:00] manufacturers often begin, what can I do to enhance the buyer experience?

I want to attract buyers to me or maintain loyalty with the buyers I already have. I'd like to look for a few minutes on the other side of the coin at benefits that the seller themselves may enjoy apart from, I kept my customer. What are some of the benefits that might be in it for the seller to adopt these kinds of innovations.

Steve Stessman: So I would say the seller benefits are there's many. Number one really being is I maybe touched on in the beginning. You have an aging workforce that, when I talk to manufacturers, it's extraordinary to have salespeople that literally have, I talked to one this week that said their tenure range from five years to 40 years on their sales team.

And after being at a company for 40 years, there's a pretty good chance somebody's going to start to retire. But you know, if you think about the knowledge [00:20:00] that person, those people have that have been, there are five to 40 years, it's extraordinary, but you have to replace them.

And what's easy for them is not easy for someone coming new to the organization. I talked to a manufacturer last week, they did a demo, a demonstration of their current process, their customer service reps, to put an order in, to quote and put an order in touch nine different systems. I said, well, that's a lot of systems access.

And then the reps as well, a lot of this, I just have memorized. The younger workforce doesn't really want to memorize. They want to be able to click and do drop downs. Make it fairly straightforward and rightfully so. And the same thing on the manufacturing floor as the workforce ages, you've got to give people better tools.

I think the seller benefit as well as there's other ones that the best thing a manufacturer can do is make the exact same object, the exact same way. Every time it's the most efficient. Everybody knows everything. The same amount of materials [00:21:00] allow customization. And start doing things that are engineered to order.

Your overall efficiency goes down sometimes, or many times your profit doesn't go up because the salespeople won't charge more. They'll say, I will just make a simple change or, I just have this a little bit of change. And then you see literally for the seller, you see profits bleeding. And when you use a tool like KBMax, for example, what you ended up doing is you move from an engineer to order to configure to order for the majority of your business, call it 80-90%. Because you're always going to have some of this engineer to order, I think, given any manufacturer, but then you're able to work with that as an exception instead of the rule. The other thing I think, as the customer is doing the work, they're making their choices.

So if you think about using the tool, KBMax, they're doing the seller process, in the background we're creating the bills of materials, the quoting, passing that on to other systems. [00:22:00] So, the customer is doing a lot of the work. And so what you find is your salespeople become more productive. They can close more deals because they're not handling sales that are replacement parts. So things that really are the very standard configurations, that kind of thing.

Barrett Thompson: That sounds very transformational. This idea of taking what has been an ETO business, maybe unquestionably an ETO business and shifting it to a configured order CTO business, because of the efficiencies.

Is this an idea that you're bringing into manufacturers as you help them see the vision with this technology? Or are they already eager to move there and just don't know how to get it?

Steve Stessman: I think a lot of times they want to get. They know they want to change, but their first roadblock is you don't understand how complex our stuff is or our widget is.

And that's what the conversations they've had internally. That's why they stopped. That's why they haven't extended a better tool for the customer to use it because they can't figure out how to make it simple. If that [00:23:00] makes any sense. So when we're talking with a customer, you'll literally see the lights go on, or the light bulb goes off over their head and they're like, oh, so every document becomes real time and we don't have all of these static assumptions.

No we're going to build in a configure to order environment, we're going to build custom plans for every one of your orders. If that's how you decide to go down the path, which allows them to be so flexible because if they change, their plan or a model number or a component, you can always have the most up-to-date information.

I had a customer last week that he titled himself as the least technical person on the call. And he said, so what you're saying is we don't really need a PLM anymore. And my response was, I didn't say that but you could potentially do that. So, and that's when you talk about bringing in the [00:24:00] idea and they start wrapping their minds around how their current processes are and how they could change things and streamline things, they really stumble upon it themselves.

Barrett Thompson: I'm connecting two things. One, you mentioned earlier that a business might in fact be able to go from selling in a year's time, a hundred thousand unique combinations. It might be that really there's 3000 combinations that are going to be sufficient to cover a large majority, upwards 80, 90% of what customers really need.

So if I take that idea and then I think about going from ETO to CTO, it makes a lot of sense to me. If I have fewer configurations that I'm actually going to fulfill for a majority of customers, all those things kind of scale in the same virtuous direction. Right. So I can see how those two fit together.

Steve, let me ask then. A manufacturer thinks about moving from ETO to CTO. Is it really the case then that they're going to be limiting their choices? They're going to be restricting what it is they can do or their willingness to do it?

Steve Stessman: No, [00:25:00] actually, because if the manufacturer has rules, they can really almost allow an infinite number of choices.

However, those choices will be the best. That would be both good for the customer as well as the manufacturer. So we have a customer that had 7,000 static bills of materials that we were able to transform into 29 base models that literally allow an infinite number of drawings and bill of materials, but because they're real-time and they have rules behind it, every outcome is the best for the manufacturer. So no, you can still allow choice. And I think you have to, people need an assortment to choose from and what we have found with every customer bar none is that their average ticket goes up when the customer drives the sales process, because the salesperson, they quit asking questions. They quit offering products. And sometimes it's just out of respect to the [00:26:00] customer because the customer only has so many yes’s in them. But if the customer is co-creating with the software, with the manufacturer via the software, they're co-creating, they get to make the choice whether or not they want even some of the most obscure options that the salesperson wouldn't necessarily offer as long as the manufacturer says “okay.” So what you see is a greater level of what they'll purchase as well as a higher close rate, because the customer did the work like they're invested. They spent however many minutes on the configurator putting a product together versus waiting for a quote from a salesperson to get sent to them over email or however they consume or via a PO. So, no, I'm definitely not saying there's not choices. How do you bundle the choices that it's good for everybody?

Barrett Thompson: It makes sense. And I really love that finding that you shared that the ticket size goes up and the investment goes up in the configuration and the order and therefore the close rates and the size, [00:27:00] because the customer was involved.

I find that to be a very intriguing sort of psychological finding, but it makes so much sense. It makes so much sense if they had that kind of buy into the build.

Steve Stessman: Yeah. And I think that's what you ended up doing with a great guided selling process is you show people choice and you allow them. One of the great things that we can do with Katie max is I can educate the customer through the process.

So, what that means is I can have hotspots and they can run a short video clip as they hover over a spot in their choice and they can learn where they don't have to go out and Google something they can actually learn while they're in the process.

So they don't have to ask a sales person. They can just self-educate and our customers find that remarkable. And it really enhances the buyer experience.

Barrett Thompson: Yep. At Zilliant we're really interested in this area of configured and engineered to order parts for manufacturers. We've discovered that dynamic product configurations need dynamic price calculations to go [00:28:00] with them, if you will.

And that's a capability, a complementary capability that Zilliant has just like the tailoring. You mentioned the tailoring of the product itself. I would offer that it's possible to tailor the price itself. To account for important factors, such as who the customer is, how much business they do with you.

Even things like supply-demand balance in the marketplace, competitive prices, raw material, cost inflation, all of these factors that the same human experts and sales who have helped with configuration in the past. They've often been the de facto price experts, if you will, at the moment of truth in front of the customer as well.

And just as the automation helps in the configuration and eCommerce experience on the pricing side, we can configure a price to match the configured part. We can deliver that into the eCommerce experience that too can feel tailored and in a way that makes the customer feel like they're empowered to go ahead and get the deal done.

That's the configuration I need. That's a price that makes sense. I'm ready to [00:29:00] push the submit button and get one more thing checked off my list because I'm a busy professional and I've got other things to do.

Steve Stessman: Yeah, absolutely. I think a tool like Zilliant would help out tremendously, especially for manufacturers currently because commodity prices change daily, if not hourly, and having the best price again, matched with the customer, also match with the complexity of what the customer's created. Many times in my experience, the salesperson will realize this is a very customized project. And when they take it to operations after the deal's closed, the operations teams are like, you should have charged, pick the number, 20% more, do you have any idea?

Like, we're going to slow down production of the entire factory for a half a day to do this project and the salesperson says “Well, I didn't know that. By the way, make sure it gets delivered in a week or whatever.” But when you take some of that away, but take some of that human element out of [00:30:00] it, it definitely adds to the profit level.

I do think allowing choice also removes some of the competitiveness, they can perhaps search and find a price on a similar object, but if they've added four and five options, it becomes less apples to apples comparison for them, which is a fantastic opportunity for a manufacturer to harvest additional margin on the same sale.

Barrett Thompson: Yeah, it makes sense. The more opaqueness you can have and what's driving the price or the more differentiated the configuration itself is then the less subject you are to a direct attack from a supposed comparative price point. That example you just gave about sales puts together a configuration that effectively causes the plant to shut down for half a week and they didn't know that. I'm connecting that back to the point you made earlier about configuration choices. There are some configuration choices that are good for the manufacturer, and you'll use the rules to guide people toward ones that are good. i.e. shutting [00:31:00] down a plant for half a week. Not good. So let me guide you to a config choice that is good or conversely, if it really is that the customer requires that then the tailoring of price could be aware of that the price configuration could include, if you will, a score.

What's good or not good for manufacturer. And when the item is difficult or inconvenient for the manufacturer to make that particular configuration, perhaps there's a price premium. That's automatically built into the pricing logic to give some rewards, some offset, for the additional burden that a manufacturer is going to carry.

I think there's a huge synergy in both, at least for some manufacturers I've seen maybe as a reflex. They're so used to having that button that says “call for quote.” You might be able to get through some of the configuration process. Then you have to push that button, talk to a human. There can be a number of reasons.

So we don't have any idea what the cost is yet for the configuration you just spec’d. So maybe they have to go do a hurry up exercise to create the cost, or we know something about what the cost is, but we're not sure [00:32:00] how we want to treat you as a customer, what sort of discounts we might give you from a list price perspective, and that sort of thing.

And I see the automation of those pieces working in step with the guided configuration that you talked about. So that really, that button “call for price” can go away and someone can complete that transaction right there online if that's what they want to do. Are there any other pieces that you're aware of Steve that need to happen or are happening with technology enablement so that the customer can complete the transaction, configuration, pricing, and then push the “Go” button. Anything else in there that we need to talk about?

Steve Stessman: No, I don't think so. I mean, I think there's always, there's other downstream processes that happen obviously around fulfillment. And so sometimes, people, they want to talk to the salesperson and say, “Hey, by the way, I need this in seven days.”

If there's some factors in there that potentially make the delivery, you end up doing an estimated delivery versus, “Hey, this is the date when I'm going [00:33:00] to get it.” But even that all of that's available. It's just a matter of connecting systems, as long as we have that system set up on the other end of it.

And then, if it's a rush or, but this is a perfect example, the customer needs something in seven days. That's fine. Then charge for it. It's like, I think people are less price conscious if they've had an opportunity to choose themselves to solve their problem and understand that there are parameters like if they need it quickly then they have to pay more. If they can wait three weeks, well then maybe they don't have to pay the rush charge or whatever it is, but the price becomes less of an issue. If you allow the customer to make their choices and allow them to fulfill their own needs.

Barrett Thompson: That makes perfect sense. Steve talked to me for just a minute about the ecosphere and the landscape in which KBMax runs and operates.

Steve Stessman: So KBMax operates in a [00:34:00] lot of different spaces. We are platform agnostic. We want to make sure that we integrate with anybody's system and anybody's platform. So the way we're built is to allow the customer to have access to their customer's configuration. At whatever point state they need to be based off of their sales and quoting in their ordering fulfillment process, major ecosystems we do work in. We're a proud partner of Salesforce. We do a great business with them or on the AppExchange. We have fortunately with thousands of joint customers met many manufacturers that have undergone a complete digital transformation of their business or are at the beginning.

If you think about a manufacturing life cycle, it starts with quoting and pricing. And once somebody has a relationship with a customer and we play a big part in that and Salesforce does a great job helping us tie all that together.

Barrett Thompson: Steve, this has been a great conversation today. You've given us many [00:35:00] ideas to consider as we strive to improve that B2B eCommerce for our manufacturing customers.

Thank you for sharing your perspective with us today on B2B Reimagined.

Steve Stessman: Well, thank you for the opportunity. One of the reasons I joined a SaaS company is because I did a digital transformation myself at a manufacturer. And I know the differences that technology can make in an organization. So my absolute passion to talk about this stuff and so I really appreciate the opportunity.

Barrett Thompson: I want to thank each of our podcast listeners for being with us today. Please see the show notes for links to two blog posts co-authored by KBMax and Zilliant, the first on configured product pricing. And the second on dynamic pricing in eCommerce. We're committed to your success. And if you need any assistance, please reach out to us here at Zilliant. Would you do us a favor today and please rate and review the show? This helps us to continue to put out great free content. This concludes our podcast. Until next time, have a great day.

Are you ready to learn how Zilliant can help you overcome your inflation challenges?

Reach out to us today to learn how we can help!