Five ways product configurators can transform sales for distributors

Truck owner looking at laptop and evaluating a purchase

Distribution is a complex industry. A single piece of equipment can have 100,000 different potential configurations. 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.

Today, we’re going to dive deeper into five ways product configurators add value for both distributors and their customers.

Generate faster quotes

The traditional quoting process uses up one of distributors' 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 distributor 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.

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, dealers 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.

[RELATED: How distributors can leverage e-catalogs for aftermarket success]

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 e-commerce 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.

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, a recent article by 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 distributors need to provide that.

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 distributors. 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 distributor can add.

In conclusion, digital sales continue to grow for distributors, 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. Distributors 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.

Kris Harrington is the CEO of GenAlpha Technologies.  During her time with OEMs in the mining industry, Kris and the other founders of GenAlpha saw a need to find a better way for B2B brands in manufacturing to do business.  This led to the development of an eCommerce solution for manufacturers and distributors who want to grow their business online.  For more than 10 years, the experienced team at GenAlpha Technologies has been helping equipment manufacturers repurpose their bills of materials, 2D and 3D engineering data to make it easier for customers to safely identify and purchase parts.

Learn how to move your used trucks faster
With unsold used inventory depreciating at a rate of more than 2% monthly, efficient inventory turnover is a must for dealers. Download this eBook to access proven strategies for selling used trucks faster.
Used Truck Guide Cover