Exceptional CX with Accelalpha’s Devang Bhavsar

Today we are joined by Accelalpha’s Devang Bhavsar. In his role as Partner, CX & ERP Practice, Devang is focused on helping companies make it easy for their customers to do business with them. As digital commerce becomes dominant, “customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator,” he predicts.

Listen to hear how B2B companies can develop a better and smarter CX through a combination of strategy and tools such as CPQ, price optimization software and more. You’ll learn how Zilliant is working with Accelalpha to provide a seamless integration between Oracle CPQ and Zilliant pricing solutions.

Featuring
Devang Bhavsar

Devang Bhavsar

Having a tool like CPQ really empowers your sales users. When you talk about sales it’s not just your internal sales, but also your channel sales. And you may be selling your products and services to resellers and distributors. So this is about enabling all your sales channels to provide that better customer experience. 
- Devang Bhavsar, Accelalpha

Episode Transcript

Devang Bhavsar: [00:00:00] So having a tool like CPQ really empowers your sales users. When you talk about sales it’s not just your internal sales, but also your channel sales. And you may be selling your products and services to resellers and distributors. So this is about enabling all your sales channels to provide that better customer experience.

Lindsay Duran: Hi, my name is Lindsay Duran and I'm the Chief Marketing Officer at Zilliant. I will be your host for today's episode of B2B Reimagined. I'm joined today by Devang Bhavsar, partner, customer experience and ERP practice at Accelalpha. Devang, welcome to B2B Reimagined.

Devang Bhavsar: Thank you for having me.

Lindsay Duran: I want to start off today's show a little different way, so our listeners can get to know you a bit better Devang, and I'm going to give you just a couple of questions here.

First, tell us something that many people may not know about you.

Devang Bhavsar: I would say that many people don't know about me that I'm ambidextrous, whether it comes to playing sports or writing, or maybe even using tools. I think for the most part I could do it equally. Well, using both hands

Lindsay Duran: So jealous. I bet many people wish they, they have that talent.

Tell us one [00:02:00] of your bucket list items.

Devang Bhavsar: Say one that I finished a couple of years ago was driving in Germany, an Autobahn without a speed limit. I always wanted to do it. And I know I, I rented her a really nice car and went as fast as a crude and I really enjoyed it.

Lindsay Duran: That sounds great. And then lastly, and maybe this is a crossover from the second question. I'm not sure, but tell us your favorite activity to do that's not racing nice cars in Germany.

Devang Bhavsar: I want to say it kind of changes every few years. I think lately I have picked up on stargazing and my wife and I, whenever we travel I look for areas where there's dark sky. And, just going out at night and especially on no moon nights it’s great to see the stars.

Yeah. So that's what I've been doing lately.

Lindsay Duran: Thank you for that. So now that we've gotten to know you a little bit better, can you share more about [00:03:00] what you do at Accelalpha and how you got into the customer experience space?

Devang Bhavsar: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm a partner at Accelalpha and Accelalpha provides a wide range of IT services to implement and manage Oracle cloud applications and Accelalpha has a global footprint.

We have offices all around the world, including UK, Australia, Singapore, and now Middle East. So at Accelalpha, I primarily focus on CX side of the house and prior to joining Accelalpha I was with Oracle and we became part of Oracle through Big Machines acquisitions. So Big Machines is the application that Oracle or renamed as CPQ Cloud.

So I've been in the CX space, I want to say for at least 13, 14 years now started with of course CPQ. But my years at Accelalpha we have expanded beyond CPQ including other customer experience applications.

Lindsay Duran: Excellent. So let's dive in. It's no secret that the [00:04:00] demand for exceptional customer experience is really higher than ever in the B2B space. I think, especially as we've seen with the shift to more digital channels. Can you describe Accelalpha’s approach to CX?

Devang Bhavsar: CX is how you're making it easier for your customers to do business with you. And it includes all interactions that your customers are having with you. It includes sales, of course, and your customer support, but also eCommerce, social media, any interactions that you're having with your customers, how can you improve?

And one lens that we keep coming back to is are you making it easier for your customers to do business with, and, we think that customer experience, is likely going to overtake even the price and product as a key brand differentiator [00:05:00] in coming years. We already see that in certain aspects of the industry, especially in the B2C but it's definitely going to happen in B2B.

Lindsay Duran: Absolutely. So we talked to a little bit about, you mentioned pricing as part of the discussion on CX, but specifically, omni-channel real-time or dynamic pricing is a big part of that customer experience. Overall. What are some of the pitfalls you've seen when companies neglect a dynamic pricing strategy?

Devang Bhavsar: I think the main one is your margin and optimizing your margin. So you want to win as many deals as possible and you want to win at higher margin. You can run a lot more deals, but if you have your margins lowered, then it doesn't really help you with optimization. So that sort of. But when you think about the pricing, it's about having that optimal place, where you have the highest margin, then you're winning the maximum amount of all the deals.

And I would say that in [00:06:00] B2B space and people don't really think about it as much, pricing, you kind of think about an Amazon review or something like that, but even in B2B space in the top performers we see that they across the industries they are nearly twice as likely to price dynamically.

So dynamic pricing is, I think is very important. And without that again, I'll just come back to margin optimization. You're kind of neglecting that.

Lindsay Duran: Absolutely. And if I can build on that a bit, I think. When a customer logs into a site, a B2B customer logs into a site, they expect for their price that they see to be highly relevant and really tailored for their relationship with that particular vendor. Right? If they are a great customer and do most of their business with that particular supplier, then it would only serve to make sense that they feel like they're getting a good price. That's rewarding relationship. And conversely, if perhaps it's on an item that they don't buy frequently, [00:07:00] or even a supplier that they don't purchase from regularly, perhaps their understanding of the price that they should get might be that they pay a bit more than others who do spend more with that supplier.

And so part of being dynamic is making sure that the prices reflect the customer relationship with the supplier. So going back to digital commerce here, so digital commerce certainly moves faster than traditional channels. As B2B companies adjust to the new normal what's generally the first step toward smarter customer experience?

Devang Bhavsar: I'll say that, if you are a customer trying to start this journey or kind of thinking about it, but just has started it, I would highly recommend to do a proper self assessment of your current capabilities, the value that you can get by digital commerce and do that for each and every category.

So.[00:08:00] We talked about certain items like sales and commerce and social media and eCommerce, all those categories. Kind of think about for each of your division where you are, and if you transform that what value you would get? That’s sort of where we need to start in that will give you the answer of where you want to invest first.

And especially if you are a large enterprise with multiple divisions, it could be a big undertaking to transform everything at once. So this kind of self analysis can really help you to have your focus on where you want to invest first and basically maximize ROI.

Lindsay Duran: Devang, as a followup to that, what are some of the categories that you see companies most frequently get started with?

Devang Bhavsar: Right now we see them focus a lot more into sales side; sales and eCommerce, it's now, you can't travel as much, a lot of businesses in there, you are now trying to do it remotely over the phone or Zoom or whatnot. So this is the category that [00:09:00] we have seen that picked up a lot last year, and it will continue to see more investment this year.

Lindsay Duran: And you mentioned the sales side of things. How does CPQ fit into that cohesive customer experience?

Devang Bhavsar: So CPQ so for people who are not familiar, it stands for Configure, Price and Quote, and it's a sales tool. So if you think about, your sales person interacting with your customer, they can use CPQ to find the right products and services.

And to price them correctly and create any kind of contracts or agreements that you need to create during that particular transaction. So that’s how CPQ helps specifically on the sales side. So having a tool like CPQ really empowers your sales users. Whenever you talk about sales is not just your internal sales, but also your channel sales.

And [00:10:00] there, you may be selling your products and services to resellers and distributors. So this is about enabling all your sales channels to provide that better customer experience. And again, if you go back to my comment about, making it easier for your customers to do business with, so if it's easier for your customers to buy your products from your resellers or working directly with your inside sales, that's really going to help your bottom line.

So that's how I think CPQ affects the whole.

Lindsay Duran: As a former sales rep certainly pricing and how you get the right quote out to a customer. I very much understand the pressures that are placed on the sales rep during that time, how have recent market events negatively impacted quote turnaround time or the ability for a sales rep to get the right quote out to the customer quickly?

Devang Bhavsar: So the two things that you said, the right quote out, [00:11:00] and to me, that's kind of right products and services and quickly, right? How fast you can get it out. So I want to point out the recent survey done by JD Powers and Associates that have mainly four factors that will have a huge impact on losing a deal. And that includes responsiveness, that is about 30%. That’s the highest value nowadays. Product fit, and if you just don't have the right product fit, of course, you're not going to win that particular deal if you don't have it. Availability - you may have the product, but if you don't have it available, then of course you cannot really fulfill the order. And finally the price, you need to sell it at the right price and maximize your margin. So if you're thinking about the responsiveness and the price, I think that has a huge impact right now and it always had, but I think right now, I would say, more than ever, and, improving the experience. And really, again, I'll come back to [00:12:00] margin optimization, through having more impact to the bottom line. It's tremendous.

Lindsay Duran: So I'd like to come back to the discussion about Oracle's CX capabilities. What are the advantages that you see with building solutions with Oracle's Smarter CX platform?

Devang Bhavsar: So I have been quite impressed with Oracle CX offerings. There used to be a time, I want to say six, seven, 10 years ago when there was always a discussion about a suite of product versus best of breed. And to me, I think that is no longer the case. Oracle CX applications are, are ranked higher. They're on the Magic Quadrant. So we see that very powerful suite of products that are easy to connect with each other, which is a key again, to easily launch and transform your CX. So what I mean by that is, let's start with [00:13:00] something as very basic as your CRM, or, then our eCommerce platform. But then you kind of, go from there and say, you know what, I want to have a CPQ tool, or I want to have a social cloud and really make sure that all this applications start talking with each other. Again, when your customer is contacting you, whoever is working with them gets that complete 360 view of what this customer has, what they’ve asked in the past or what kind of needs that they have and enabling not just your salespeople but your entire workforce, to provide that better experience. Again, just making it easier for the customers to do business with you.

Lindsay Duran: And so how does the combination of pricing and kind of the price setting process or price optimization process and CPQ come together specifically in the Oracle CX world?

Devang Bhavsar: So we have a number of customers where they have taken advantage of [00:14:00] Oracle CX, whether it’s CPQ or Commerce Cloud, and connected that with Zilliant because Zilliant helps with the price setting. This integration makes it possible to provide the right price at the right time and as quickly as possible. So let me walk into an example. Let's say, you are a salesperson you're working with your customers, right? And using CPQ in order, of course you put together the right products and services that you want to sell to this customer.

Now, what is the right price for that customer? And it's unlike B2C, in B2B the pricing is quite complex. It's not just one time transactions. So, you were building the relationship, maybe you have been working with the customer for quite some time. You may have some agreements in place.

Maybe it's a strategic customer and you want to invest some more, so there are a lot of things that go into it and Zilliant can help you make some right decisions [00:15:00] for you and make the approval of those decisions also easy. So as a salesperson, again, going back to that example, I put together this products and services but the Zilliant can help me decide what is the right price at this particular time for this particular customer? That is key, that increases my chances of winning the deal. And also of course it increases the margin that I can get on that particular transaction.

Lindsay Duran: I think you make a great point there it's, it's one thing to be able to display prices or give pricing to a salesperson in an efficient and effective manner, but it is quite another to make sure that the quality of the prices that are given to the salespeople are reflective of the margin goals of the business, but also are going to be perceived as fair and market relevant prices by the customer, [00:16:00] such that the sales rep can still win the business.

So it's really the combination of both that backend price optimization and management solution with the CPQ that really gets you to the last mile when you think about how to enable salespeople and how to provide for that overall better customer experience. So this podcast is called B2B Reimagined.

Let's spend the remaining time we have looking into the crystal ball and thinking about how B2B companies can tackle pricing and CX challenges. Where do you recommend companies start?

Devang Bhavsar: So every year we do this at the beginning of the year, we kind of predict what we expect to see in the industry for the given year. And we do that by looking at the industry trends and our past experience on how things have changed. So we predicted early in the year that, considering again with the COVID and we kind of live in unprecedented time, we believed that the B2B [00:17:00] companies will invest in the front office operations and front office operations are all the operations where you are interacting with your customer. Right? So customer experience operations. And we believe that this trend will only accelerate in 2021. COVID-19 has, of course drastically changed the landscape and it's forcing all the companies to invest in tools that's going to empower its sales channels and provide superior customer experience to their customer base.

So we had already seen that a lot of investments late last year, early this year. And this trend is only going to accelerate going forward.

Lindsay Duran: Devang, we're also seeing really similar trends. And I think the biggest thing that I've personally seen with companies is that as they move into more digital eCommerce channels, they realize that the approaches that [00:18:00] they've taken to set pricing in the past, just aren't quite sufficient.

They've previously relied on salespeople to be that buffer between the price set by corporate and the price that actually gets delivered to the customer. They're finding that they need to do a significantly better job on the upfront price setting, be more granular, be more market aligned, be more dynamic so that the price that they put in eCommerce channels is immediately acceptable to the customer without necessarily that sales rep intervention.

And that also helps on the sales led channels where the prices that are put in front of the sales person no longer need to be further manipulated before the sales rep is comfortable putting that in front of their customer. And so we're really seeing, I think just COVID and the lack of in-person interaction that we've had over the past year, really accelerate that move and [00:19:00] bring that problem, or that challenge to the forefront of everyone's mind.

Devang Bhavsar: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think it's an exciting times again, for someone who has spent a number of years in CX. I’ve kind of seen this space evolve. I've seen kind of how companies have invested in the last 10 years, but what I'm seeing right now, it's quite exciting. And I'm here to kind of assist, anyone or answer any questions that anyone might have.

Lindsay Duran: Perfect. Well, thank you, Devang. This has been a great conversation. You've given us a lot of great ideas to consider as we collectively rethink and reimagine the CX and CPQ experience. So thank you for sharing your perspective.

Devang Bhavsar: Thank you. Thank you.

Lindsay Duran: I'd like to thank each of our podcast listeners for being with us today as well.

Please take a look at the show notes for a link to an on-demand version of a recent webinar that Devang and I both co-hosted, we're committed to your success. And if you [00:20:00] need assistance, please reach out to us at Zilliant or reach out to Devang at Accelalpha. This concludes our podcast. Please rate and review the show, it helps us to continue to put out great free content. Until next time have a great day.

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