Busting the five biggest myths in manufacturing of configurable products

Ajda Hafner, CMO at SaleSqueze
December 15, 2022

In our daily life, we have certain beliefs that inhibit our development and growth. Certain beliefs prevent development even in the business world, and it is no different in manufacturing companies with complex and configurable products. 

In recent months, we have put a lot of effort into deep understanding of manufacturing companies that make custom products.

We were curious in what is stopping their digitalization and automation of sales processes.

We spoke to 164 CEOs of companies that manufacture custom products and discovered that 80% of them think the same way. After gathering the insights, we have combined the most common thoughts into 5 myths.

Why do we call them myths? A myth is something we all believe, but it doesn’t have to be true.

Myths in this article refer to:

Automation of quote preparation

Cooperation of sales reps and technologists in the preparation of a quote

Custom-made products

The possibility for the customers to assemble the product by themselves

The importance of personal contact in sales

Why would you bust myths?

After busting the myths, we structured the inquiry processing activities, saved 35 minutes per inquiry processing, and offered customers an unforgettable buying experience.

– Marko Žunec, CEO of Impol Servis

Let’s dive into busting myths.

MYTH #1: The quote preparation can’t be automated as our products are completely customized 

Let’s start busting myths with the most frequently heard one: “Our products are made entirely according to the customer’s requirements, so the preparation of an offer cannot be automated.” 

It is true that some products are extremely complex. But every product, even if it is made entirely according to the customer’s requirements, has rules, conditions for assembling and price calculation behind it. If your company doesn’t have this, it means that you don’t have a standardized offer and you make too many of them – as a result, you treat each customer differently.

Automated offer preparation saves your salespeople a huge amount of time.

Some questions to consider:

How much time does your sales team spend preparing 1 quote?

Multiply the time it takes to prepare a quote by the number of quotes you prepare in a year.

How many quotes actually convert to orders?

How much time (and money) are you wasting processing inquiries that don’t convert into orders?

MYTH #2: Sales reps don’t have all the knowledge of configurable products, so the involvement of technologists in the process of preparing a quote is necessary

Myth #2 represents common practice in companies: “Sales reps don’t know all the rules to configure the product, so the involvement of technologists in the process of preparing a quote is necessary.”

Technologists are those people in the company who know all the configuration rules. As a result, they often support sales reps in preparing the offers.

Since your products are constantly being upgraded, handing over all the changes to sales reps is a challenging job for technologists. However, if technologists stored all configuration rules in a single place, sales reps would not need constant support.

We have advice for you. Talk to technologists and sales reps and consider how to keep configuration rules in a single place, where technologists could always keep them up to date. 

MYTH #3: Our products are too complex for customers to configure them by themselves

The majority of the CEOs that we spoke with them were of the opinion that their products are too complex for customers to configure them on their own.

This is myth #3, and it’s the mindset of 80% of all leaders in the custom manufacturing industry.

It is difficult for your customers to configure a product themselves because they have to rely on physical or online catalogs and complicated spreadsheets. You need to offer customers a tool that guides them through the process of building a product.


Product configurator

Customers can configure your products themselves via the configurator. On the one hand, this offers a superior product inquiry experience, and on the other hand, your salespeople save a lot of time in presenting your products to customers. 

Let’s bust this myth using the example of garage doors from Glideaway.

Their garage doors have thousands of options and each garage door ordered by customer is unique.

The configuration rules and rules for calculating the price are extremely complex, but the buyer can easily configure his own garage door.

Let the experience speak for itself.
Try out the configurator.

Were you able to configure your garage door? We are sure you did. We busted myth #3.

Are you worried that your customers would not know how to use the configurator? Read about this in the next myth.

MYTH #4: Our customers will not know how to use the 3D configurator because it is complex

Are you wondering if your customers will not know how to use the 3D configurator because it is too complex?

Your customers are used to shopping online. What’s more, customers want innovative digital solutions that allow them to research, configure and order custom-made products.

McKinsey research (2022) showed that 87% of B2B buyers want self-service ordering of products, and in the B2C market this percentage is even higher.

There are many configurators on the market that are not well-thought-out and, as a result, are too complex for customers to use. 

With a configurator supported by 2D or 3D visualization, you will inspire and engage customers to assemble their own product, which they will also be able to see. 

Try some configurators in our showroom and see for yourself that it is easy and intuitive to use.

Let the experience speak for itself.
Get access to the configurator showroom.

    Your potential customers want that kind of ordering experience too. To verify this hypothesis, conduct a survey on existing customers if they would like to use the configurator. Please let me know the results of the survey, as I am really curious.

    MYTH #5: A computer can’t do the work of sales reps because personal contact is important to us

    Do you agree that personal contact is significant in sales?

    Do you agree with myth #5 “A computer can’t do the work of sales reps because personal contact is important to us”?

    The computer should by no means replace face-to-face contact. My experience from the market is that sales reps are overwhelmed with preparing offers and often do not have time for personal contact.

    The configurator provides an excellent user experience for the customer when researching and configuring the product. Automatically prepared quote saves the sales reps a lot of time, which can be then used to develop personal contact and advise customers.

    With the help of the configurator, you win in two areas: you are innovative online and you have more time for personal contact. 🏆

    Some question for your own reflection:

    How much do you think the conversion from inquiries to orders could increase due to more personal contact with customers?

    How much time could your sales reps save by automating the preparation of quotes and how much time could they then dedicate to personal contact with customers?

    Wrap up

    We have busted the 5 biggest myths that we hear every day when talking to the leaders in manufacturing companies.

    Here are the key takeaways:

    The preparation of a quote can be automated, even if the products are custom-made.

    The task of sales reps is not to know configuration rules by heart – store them in a single place and update them regularly.

    If we guide the customers through the configuration process, they can configure each product by themselves.

    Customers not only know how to use the configurator, what’s more, they want such solutions!

    Personal contact is important! Make sure you have enough time for it.

    We have a solution for you that covers all of the above: customer-centric CPQ

    At the heart of the buyer-centric CPQ is a product configurator used by customers to research and configure their own products. When they submit an inquiry, a quote for your product is automatically prepared, which is reviewed by the sales rep in 1 minute and sent to the customer’s e-mail.

    Enable digital sales for your company and customers.

    Start with
    SaleSqueze Visual CPQ