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The road to reinventing high-tech Revenue Lifecycle Management

7 min read
Brice Rey-Herme
Managing Director Accenture
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In an ever-evolving landscape, high-tech companies are contemplating a market ripe with opportunities – but also rife with challenges.  

Finding ways to do more with less is a central theme and an absolute imperative for the high-tech industry. One reason is that buyers' lingering concerns over an economic slowdown and high interest rates have made them more cost-conscious than ever. Raw materials inflation and product commoditization aren't helping either and are further eroding margins.  

Meanwhile, investors are keeping a close eye on returns as the explosive growth the industry experienced during the pandemic has slowed.  

Another issue is constrained and unpredictable supply chains are another issue. In their quest to establish cost-efficient and sustainable supply chains, high-tech companies are seriously exploring supply network redesign for the first time in decades. Accenture recently surveyed over 1,000 executives at companies with U.S. operations and revenues of over $1 billion across 32 industries and found that 94% are planning a direct investment in nearshoring or onshoring. 

Evolving customer expectations must also be considered. For some years, buyers across all segments – enterprise, mid-market, SMB, and B2B2C – have favored more flexible commercial constructs, such as as-a-service and pay-per-use models and curated solutions that combine bespoke product, service, and platform elements. The expectation for more digital sales experiences and more self-service and remote delivery options has also grown steadily. We now see these preferences and buying patterns being prioritized even further by a wider group of customers. 

Accenture's research suggests that high-tech companies still have a way to go in crafting truly flexible and client-centric as-a-service offerings. Our recent industry survey of over 150 high-tech executives found that only 1 in 4 (26%) say their as-a-service offerings provide specific segments and clients with one-off leases or product/ service subscriptions. 

 

Navigating Uncertainty 

Against this backdrop, high-tech companies must rethink their business models and explore new paths to profitable growth. The winners will be those bold enough to reimagine their product offerings, reinvent their portfolios, and also how they service the market. 

That's no easy task, especially given that most high-tech businesses' revenue operations aren't geared to support business model transformation at scale. 

For example, research suggests that less than 35% of sales teams' time is spent on customer-facing activities, and it's estimated that high-tech businesses sacrifice between 2% and 6% of their profit due to suboptimal pricing control 

The factors hindering profitable growth include:  

Complexity in managing channel partners: As customers seek more comprehensive offerings, industry boundaries blur and break down. High-tech products and services are already ubiquitous across industries, and there is convergence in sectors like health, auto, and financial services. As a result, high-tech companies' sales teams must navigate a complex partner and channel ecosystem that involves multiple – but often fragmented – touchpoints and provides compelling proof of value and differentiation.  

Stagnant sales channel productivity: A lack of resources in sales and customer service operations and high staff turnover means teams are spending more time on administrative tasks and less on what really matters – selling. 

Impersonal sales experiences: Many organizations' sales processes are one-dimensional and lack data-driven personalization due to disparate processes and legacy systems. 

Unless big tech firms systematically manage all their revenue-generating activities, from lead generation to customer retention and upsell – a concept known as revenue lifecycle management (RLM) – sustained revenue growth will remain elusive.  

When done right, RLM enables high-tech companies to manage different revenue models (hardware, software, subscriptions, professional and managed services, or bundled offerings) for multiple lines of business, even as contract values change over time.  

In turn, once deals are signed, high-tech companies can provide more consistency across channels, more customer-friendly and personalized interactions, and greater efficiency once deals are signed.   

 

The Anatomy of Next-Generation RLM 

To boost sales productivity and customer experience, RLM needs to provide actionable insights and be fully automated, connected, and integrated among different processes and technology. 

The best modern RLM solutions are designed around four key pillars: 

Diversified revenue models: With the appropriate investment in people, processes, and technology, organizations can enable new revenue models beyond a traditional product-and-service business model. This creates opportunities for new revenue growth with subscription-based models, Usage or consumption-based models, and solution bundles (product + service + software/platform).  

Pricing accuracy and personalization: Embedded automation and AI-led capabilities make it possible to provide customized, data-driven, and personalized offerings and pricing models at scale. Using AI-driven price guidance, sellers can be empowered and enabled to price confidently. Ultimately, automation helps sales and sales operations teams to do more with less.  

Dynamic, integrated, seamless experiences: A digital-first selling approach that includes self-service capabilities and virtual solutions results in cost savings and higher customer retention. 

Technology modernization: By up-leveling legacy systems, companies can collect data expediently and custom-build new applications in days, not weeks or months. 

 

Streamlined Revenue Operations for a Complex Ecosystem 

Modern RLM solutions can address various internal stakeholders' unique yet connected business requirements of various internal stakeholders, including sales, legal, finance, and customer service teams. Equally, they cater to the needs of different channel partners and customer segments. 

Here are some ways unified RLM operations support different teams in high-tech organizations: 

 

sales, sales Operations, and Revenue Operations 

Customers buy technology differently based on their size and budget. So, when it comes to determining prices and putting together proposals and quotes, what's involved will vary vastly depending on the customer segment and technology stack. With the best RLM solutions, pricing and quoting teams can access pre-configured templates for specific industries. 

For example, RLM solutions can help sales teams reduce the time it takes to compile more complex quotes for enterprise clients, such as those requiring channel partner- or reseller-specific pricing or ones that require collaboration with systems builders/integrators and distributors. The RLM system will also support co-branded quotes, including products, services, and conditions spanning multiple years and geographies. Quotations for customers operating in highly regulated industries such as health, government, and banking can also be generated quickly and within the required parameters. 

In subscription or recurring revenue models, RLM can enable faster and more automated renewal or upsell quotes and contract amendments in subscription or recurring revenue models by maintaining ongoing integration across quotes and contracts. 

For customers in the SMB and mid-market sectors, sales teams can prepare quotations using automatic suggestions for standard products. Where appropriate, resellers and distributors can generate low-touch, self-service quotations independently. 

When preparing quotes for B2B2C customers like direct retailers and e-tailers, sales teams can automate the setting of discounts and rebates and even configure catalogs and products for specific retailer chains operating in different geographies. 

All this improves deal velocity, increasing the likelihood of sales teams reaching their sales quotas and creating value for customers sooner. It also frees them to spend more time on customer-facing activities. 

Legal 

The right RLM solution streamlines the efforts of legal teams responsible for contract negotiation thanks to customized contract authoring and collaboration​, approval management, wet or e-signatures, and obligations tracking and management.  

Legal teams have all they need to develop contracts for specific segments. For example, long-term contracts with large enterprise clients might need to include bespoke contract conditions with systems builders and integrators, detailed obligations and SLAs, project-based distribution agreements, and highly customized project documentation.  

The system also makes it easy to develop contracts for complex commercial agreements with SMB and mid-market customers that might involve rebates, promotions, and discounts.  

For B2B2C contracts involving retailers and e-tailers, legal teams can easily incorporate volume discounts, MDF and product bundle agreements, and rebate and revenue recognition conditions. 

Collectively, these functionalities result in faster contract processing times, improved compliance, fewer errors, and less rework. 

Finance 

A digital RLM solution helps finance teams manage and fulfill contracts with less effort and more accuracy. It also gives them complete control of billing cycles and contract obligation monitoring. 

Finance teams can manage subscription-based and/or self-service billing for contracts across every customer segment and automate recurrent revenue recognition. Project-based contract profitability forecasts and revenue recognition based on customized obligations can also be undertaken with ease and accuracy. 

Automated contract management and fulfillment outcomes include higher deal margins, improved forecast accuracy, and complete visibility of gross-to-net profit. 

Customer Service 

RLM solutions' renew and expand capabilities strip away much of the manual effort required to build and sustain new and existing customer relationships across all segments. The system proactively serves up cross/upsell bundle suggestions, monitors contract terminations, and supports automated, negotiated, and self-service renewal and termination scenarios.  

Other key features include automatic value/volume-based discount evaluation and product suggestions based on product lifecycle and innovation.  

With these capabilities, customer service teams can identify and execute more up- and cross-selling opportunities, reduce order processing time, boost customer satisfaction, and increase customer lifetime value — while enhancing their employee experience. 

 

Accenture and Conga: Total RLM Reinvention for High-Tech Companies  

RLM is taking its rightful place on the boardroom agenda at many firms, and Accenture and Conga have helped hundreds of clients get on the front foot.  

Combining Accenture's deep transformational expertise with Conga's market-leading technology solutions, we deliver profitable growth while quickly managing complexity and scaling.  

Our RLM solution leverages one unified data model. It can be fully integrated with most high-tech companies' upstream and downstream systems used by most high-tech companies, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and SAP CRM. It's also fully integrated with Salesforce and AWS, and we have a roadmap for integration with other leading cloud marketplaces such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud. 

High-tech clients that have engaged Accenture and Conga to transform their revenue operations have seen compelling outcomes, including 3–5% higher deal margins, a 25% reduction in order processing times, a 23% increase in cross- and-upselling, 36% greater contract accuracy and compliance, and 60% more time spent on customer-facing activities, rather than administrative tasks. 

 

If you're ready to start doing less with more by reinventing your revenue operations, get in touch. 

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