How Politico Used CPQ Software to Boost Sales in a Struggling Industry

By now we’ve all heard, ad nauseam, that print is dead. Tell a journalist you’re thinking about getting your master’s in journalism and after he’s done choking on his coffee, he’ll urge you to reconsider. The rise of the internet and the death of print is likely causing Johannes Gutenberg to roll over in his grave, but it’s been great in many ways for consumers of media. The level of access to information is unprecedentedly high; it has made it possible for someone in Mumbai and someone in Bueno Aires to read the same local Detroit news story at the same time. This information boom has changed the way we live, but it’s also made it extremely difficult for news media companies to remain profitable.

Naturally, news organizations are constantly looking for ways to boost revenue and cut spending. So it was front-page worthy when Politico, a Washington, DC-based news organization, was able to increase average subscription revenue by 17 percent in 2016 (according to a 2016 webinar from Politico and implementation partner Bluewolf), and it credits the boost to its investment in CPQ software.

Politico serves as a perfect model of how effectively implementing software can be a huge boon to business. Becca Smith, a technical project manager at Politico, played an integral role in the implementation of Salesforce CPQ and shared some key insights into how Politico’s effective implementation of the software made a huge difference.

Identification of the Issue and Expectations of the Solution

This is the part of the process when an organization decides to invest in software. For Politico, the decision was a result of growth. In a matter of just a few years, its sales team went from about 10 people to roughly 90. When growth happens this fast, change is inevitable. It is not unlike when the internet arrived, and news outlets needed to be flexible and willing to morph with the changing landscape, and those that were unwilling didn’t survive.

The growth of the Politico sales team resulted issues within their sales and quoting processes. Sales managers were spending too much time reviewing quotes and agreements, and due a lack of sales managers compared to salespeople, a bottleneck formed. Additionally, they used an Excel spreadsheet for pricing info, which led to errors and imperfect pricing.

Upon diagnosis of the issue, it became clear that they needed to invest in a CPQ tool. Also called configure, price, quote software, CPQ products allow users to automate the lifecycle of the sales and quoting process. They provide information that helps easily create consistent sales and pricing standards, and data for salespeople to use to quickly create offers that benefit both the customer and company. One thing Smith stressed for others during the process of selecting a tool is establishing expectations prior to implementation. That way, it’s easier to evaluate if your software investment is actually solving your original problem.

Another thing Smith noted was she wished she had collected more data regarding the sales team’s effectiveness before implementing the tool. By doing this, it would have been easier to tangibly measure the efficacy of the new tool. For example, after implementing the CPQ product, Politico’s sales process got faster. But because the sales team didn’t have any data on the time their sales process took before the arrival of the tool, there was no benchmark to compare to the current time.

Effectively Implementing and Adopting the Tool

Smith was confident that they had decided on the right CPQ product to solve the problems the sales team was facing, but that didn’t matter if they weren’t able to effectively implement and adopt the tool. One major key to the success of their adoption was flexibility, both by the sales team and Bluewolf.

Smith noted that with a sales team of 90 people, some employees would be quick to adopt the software, but it wouldn’t be the case with everybody. This is where a dynamic implementation team is key. If some employees are hesitant or having trouble embracing the tool, the implementation team should be willing to tweak the tool to best fit the employees. By doing this, and recognizing those who do embrace the tool, a high adoption rate is much more likely, and in turn, so is a high return on investment.

The arc of Politico’s utilization of CPQ software exhibits how crucial a company’s flexibility and receptiveness to new systems is. As a landscape changes, you must be willing to change along with it, otherwise, survival is elusive. Politico, in searching for a solution to a major problem, made considerable changes to its business processes, and along with these changes came significant rewards.

CPQ Products

To learn more about specific CPQ products and to read verified user reviews, visit the G2 Crowd CPQ category page.