SalesTechStar Interview With Chris Shutts, Co-founder and CEO at Logik.io
Chris Shutts, Co-founder and CEO at Logik.io chats about the evolution of CPQ solutions in this quick chat:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Chris, we’d love to hear more about your B2B tech journey and also more about Logik.io – how did the idea come about and how has the platform evolved over the years?
Thanks so much for having me for this interview. My B2B tech journey started when I helped co-found BigMachines back in 2000. The CPQ category didn’t exist yet, but my friend and co-founder, Godard Abel (now CEO of G2) and I were classmates at MIT, and after we graduated we were looking for a way to help manufacturers sell their products more effectively. We knew from our engineering background there were a lot of inefficiencies. The business went through a few iterations, but eventually we ended up essentially creating the CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) category, becoming the leader in that category, and expanding into several industries beyond manufacturing. In 2013 BigMachines was purchased by Oracle, and is now known as Oracle CPQ.
I worked at Oracle for about 5 years leading that business unit, and then retired in 2019. Not too long after that, Godard called me and let me know that Salesforce was looking for a partner with a high-powered configurator to join the Salesforce ecosystem. After we looked at the massive market need for this solution, and we saw the opportunity to make a big impact, we also uncovered a need for more than just a CPQ configurator, but an engine that would power product configuration and guided selling logic for self-service and commerce as well. That’s where the business began in early 2021, and since then we’ve been building and selling our innovative solution (we call it the Commerce Logic Engine) and gaining a ton of momentum in the market.
Take us through some of the current trends you’ve been observing when it comes to CPQ platforms: how is the need for these systems changing in the marketplace today?
I’ve seen the needs in the CPQ market change more in the last 5 years than I did in the first 20. It all starts with the buying and selling experience our users expect today. I’ll start with sellers.
It used to be acceptable 10-15 years ago for sales tools to struggle with slow performance. Especially with CPQ tools, which can traditionally be quite complex, these systems often had significant experience limitations and performance issues, especially when business processes and selling rules got more complicated. In today’s age, sellers need to move as quickly as possible to win deals. They don’t have time to wait for the spinning wheel on the screen between every click. We’re all used to our applications working for us in a split second, and if it doesn’t, we’re frustrated, or we don’t use it.
Our buyers expect the same thing: speed and convenience. There’s the trend evolving even faster in the buying landscape- buyers want to complete as much of the sales process as possible without a sales rep involved. So, self-service and commerce has risen in popularity and demand rapidly, of course in B2C, but now for B2B too, even for highly complex and configurable products. CPQ solutions traditionally were not built to help facilitate self-service of commerce transactions, and when the configuration capabilities have been attempted to be repurposed for that use case, it typically failed, again due to performance. It’s something that we observed is holding companies back not only operationally, but also limiting the experience they can deliver to customers.
Why should companies look at CPQ systems as an integral part of their commercial operations stack?
In 2022 and beyond having a CPQ solution is table stakes for companies. You need to have it to run commercial operations effectively. I look at it similarly to CRM solutions in the early 2000s- having a CRM was a competitive operational advantage for some time, and quickly became a need-to-have central staple of your stack. The same is now true for CPQ: you need to have a solution that makes it as simple as possible for sellers to provide quotes to customers quickly, with accuracy, and that fits their exact requirements and buying needs. If you don’t have that today, you’re putting your sellers at a distinct disadvantage, and will likely lose deals to companies that are able to be faster and more efficient.
In what ways do you feel the future of this segment will start to look like as industry trends evolve?
The trends around fast and convenient customer experiences are only going to become more obvious in the next five years. Commerce and self-service will be at the forefront of winning strategies for every business regardless of industry. Best-in-class CPQ solutions will need to be able to adapt to these trends, or become a less prominent and less effective part of the sales tech stack. The CPQ solutions that will continue to grow and gain market traction are the ones that will support omni-channel growth needs for businesses, and provide a more flexible part of a business’ commercial operations that can support their customer demands and GTM strategy across any channel.
A few thoughts on the future of sales automation/salestech before we wrap up?
I think there will continue to be a shift to thinking less about automation that’s focused on sales user efficiency, and more focused on customer buying efficiency. There will continue to be a “consumerization” of enterprise sales tech that will take the same principles of automation and efficiency that are geared internally for sales teams today, and turn that to the customer. The lines between sales automation tech and what we think of today as “commerce” technology will continue to blur as innovations will focus more on what technology can do to empower the customer to take control of their own buying process.
Logik.io is a high-performance Commerce Logic Engine, a solution enabling businesses to sell their products and services more effectively through direct sales teams and digital commerce channels with more guided, flexible, and interactive selling experiences.
Chris Shutts is Co-founder and CEO at Logik.io