Most enterprises struggle to generate instant quotes. Preparing quotes for large projects is a complex exercise as the data relating to the product and supporting services is invariably spread over disparate systems. Sales agents have to collect the data upfront and apply pricing rules over it. Clarifications, reviews, and approval add to the time and increase the sales cycle.
Salesforce CPQ, Salesforce’s Configure, Price, Quote software, allows sales teams to offer instant and accurate quotes. The sales team auto-generates accurate pricing for different product configuration options, instantly, and helps to shorten the sales cycle.
Enterprises deploying Salesforce CPQ streamline and automate the quote process, and deliver dynamic quotes. As a rule of thumb, sales agents devote only 30% of their time to the sales process. A Salesforce CPQ implementation saves time and sales agents get more work done within the limited time available.
The spin-off benefits of Salesforce CPQ implementation include deep personalization and consistent customer experience across channels. Quote-generation becomes professional and simple. But the accuracy of CPQ quotes depends on a tight implementation. Follow these CPQ best practices to install Salesforce CPQ right, and leverage the full range of benefits.
1. Have a Plan Upfront
Salesforce offers detailed guidelines to implement CPQ.
Establish specific goals and targets for the CPQ implementation. The best CPQ implementation assesses the challenges facing the sales team and offers effective solutions.
Focus on the business problem. Many enterprises make the mistake of focusing only on the technical aspects. Even the slickest and technically endowed CPQ suite will not benefit if it does not address the challenges facing the sales agents during quote generation.
Frame specific objectives, such as
- Lesser time spent on selling
- Shortened processing time for quotes
- Increase in order value
- Improved win and renewal rates
Set realistic targets for each objective. For instance, fix a target of 20% improvement in accuracy, or 50% faster quotation turnaround time.
The goals may be quantitative or qualitative, depending on the overall enterprise-level goals.
2. Have Clarity of Objectives
The ultimate purpose of a CPQ product is to generate dynamic quotes. Resist the temptation to build in other processes, even if such processes add value to the sales cycle. CPQ is just one tool in a larger quote-to-cash journey. Use separate tools to integrate other processes.
Prioritize goals by order of their criticality or importance.
Prime-up CPQ solutions vertically, to suit the needs of specific sectors. Customer behavior and expectations vary drastically, depending on the business and product.
Consider the incumbent pricing model, product catalog, and the pricing rules fed to the software. Mark the things that need to change to implement CPQ. Review the new products primed for co-option into the platform. Work on the required changes with clear, measurable targets and timeline-based milestones.
3. Have Clarity on Developmental Methodology
Deploy a purpose-built methodology when developing Salesforce CPQ.
Agile is the flavor of the season. Agile does offer several benefits, including efficiency gains and cost savings. But an agile approach does not always work during the initial Salesforce CPQ implementation. Agile is an incremental approach. Lack of detailed end-to-end design means that each subsequent sprint requires more rework. The interdependent complexities of CPQ make this a headache. The Waterfall approach works best until the end of the design phase. An iterative model works well only after the development phase.
Configure the CPQ to reduce the number of queries. For instance, when using Lookup Queries to find a price based on product name, currency, and account type, create formula fields that combine the three values, instead of creating three queries.
4. Make the Right Trade-Off between Simplicity and Customization
Keep it simple. Complexity delays implementation, makes it difficult to maintain the system, and frustrates user adoption. The simpler the solution, the easier it is to set up and use.
A successful Salesforce CPQ implementation requires bringing together sales, finance, marketing, product management, legal, and ordering processes. Integrating these processes involves complexity. Resolve the complexities early in the requirements gathering phase, to pre-empt issues that may subvert the entire project.
Extensive customization leads to complexities and increased maintenance overhead. Customize only where necessary and use the out-of-the-box features for the rest. This is more so since all Salesforce solutions, including CPQ, come with extensive out-of-the-box features. These out-of-the-box features offer pre-configured rules that enable automating the sales process easily.
Use “out of the box” Salesforce CPQ implementation to address the most critical business requirements. For instance, if the focus is to improve the speed of the approval process, implement advanced approval features that automate cross-functional approval chains. The best approach is to add capabilities after adopting the “out-of-box” features and ensure its smooth running.
Modify the pre-configured rules to reflect the latest market information, pricing strategies, and offers. The ability to change these rules easily lends agility to the implementation.
5. Have a Plan for the Data
Data can make or break the CPQ implementation. As the adage goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
A robust Salesforce CPQ implementation requires data from various sources. Identify the data needed for the CPQ process, and import it before implementation. Make sure the Salesforce CPQ integrates with ERP, CRM, and other enterprise software. Use API integrations to ensure smooth integration between the CPQ and systems holding critical data. API connectors ensure seamless import of data such as product tax rates, discount rates, tiers, packages, and template details, into the CPQ.
Much of the CPQ data changes constantly. Ensure update of information in real-time. Verify the information for reliability and accuracy.
Include a detailed extract of the product in the product catalog. Have clarity on the attributes needed to define and find a product in the catalog.
Manage the backend database data well for integrity. Provision for adequate resources and backups.
6. Configure Well-defined Rules
A well-configured CPQ environment makes it easy for the sales team to apply the right rules and quote the right prices.
Salesforce CPQ is flexible and dynamic. The CPQ software allows changing pricing exactly when and where the user wants it. Salesforce CPQ offers multiple fields such as original price, regular price, special price, contracted price, customer unit price, net unit price, list unit price, regular unit price, partner unit price, and more. These fields pull in variables and reflect the price after the applied calculations. Salesforce CPQ implementation allows applying various functionality such as price and product rules, auto-mapping, and summary variables on these fields, to automate price calculations. The CPQ software centralizes and automates rules on the product and pricing.
Leverage in-built technologies such as process automation, guided selling, automatic workflow approvals, user alerts, and built-in discount tools, when configuring rules. Salesforce CPQ makes it possible to automate contract amendments, usage pricing, renewals, and more. Apply these various functionalities according to your business needs.
Compile information about the ingredients that go into the quote generation process. The key ingredients include pricing, SKUs, terms, discounts, value-added services, and discounts. Collating such information requires teamwork. Collaborate with specialists and subject experts to understand customer behavior. Set pricing rules accordingly.
Design the CPQ workflow. Use the rules to define the most efficient quote generation and approval process, depending on the business needs. Co-opt pricing rules such as discounts, bulk orders, and price fluctuations by location.
Configure quotes to match consumer behaviors. Customers no longer accept the traditional “one-size-fits-all” pricing model adopted by enterprises. Today’s customers prefer personalized engagement. Sales agents have to apply strategies such as volume pricing, bundle pricing, and special discounts.
Apply customized rules to empower sales agents. Custom rules allow them to offer the best product-specific deals to prospective clients. CPQ enables sales teams to configure custom packages based on specific customer needs. Enterprises that sell several products may club these and co-opt different services effortlessly.
Set up configuration rules to associate product rules with bundles. Group similar options. Enable sales teams to configure product bundles for specific prospects and customers.
Automate key administrative tasks such as reviews, clarification, and approval, to save time. For instance, configure to apply volume-based discount to customize specific deals. Customize the scope and discount value of the discount schedule.
7. Install Right
The best of development may still cause issues if the installation is not proper. A Salesforce CPQ solution communicates with several internal and third-party systems. Wrong configurations or protocols leads to errors in real-time usage. Such errors degrade the customer experience. It also dents the confidence of the sales team.
Undertake thorough pre-implementation testing before roll-out.
Chalk out an exhaustive list of real-life use cases and roll out a thorough testing protocol. Ensure the applied functionalities, integrations, and workflows work.
Ensure the new implementation works. At times, the status may show as “Failed” after completing the installation. Run “Post Install Scripts” and authorize “new calculation service” from the configuration settings.
Understand how Salesforce CPQ implementation will affect the existing tools and platforms. Salesforce CPQ integrates easily with most applications and systems. But make sure the implementation does not break existing processes.
Always expect the unexpected. Regardless of how reliable the business process and how smooth the Salesforce CPQ implementation, some unexpected issues invariably flare-up. Have contingency plans ready. Be ready with crisis-management plans and provide resources to switch to firefighting mode.
Users may install Salesforce CPQ in either Production or Sandbox. A sandbox deployment does not need a license and is a good way to get started. Full implementation requires a production deployment though. For best results, all users have a CPQ permission set licenses after deploying in Production. A restricted implementation approach, with licenses only for some users, might cause the unavailability of necessary objects.
8. Provision Adequate Resources
The biggest reason Salesforce CPQ projects fail is lack of resources.
Engage with stakeholders regularly. During such meetings, evaluate the resources available vis-à-vis the resources required. Take steps to provide for the required resources.
Maintain an active line of communication with the core implementation team. This helps to tackle challenges or obstructions heads-on, without issues flaring up.
Successful CPQ implementation depends on the availability of talent. The project suffers when the team does not have personnel with the right skill-sets. Nurture key personnel. Have a proactive HR strategy to retain key talent. Explore outsourcing options, and rope in independent contractors to tide over the skill shortage. Have the infrastructure and ecosystem ready to co-opt independent contractors into the mix. Have the legal team prepare fool-proof contractor agreements. Make arrangements for robust communication channels.
9. Manage Change Proactively
All CPQ best practice theories go for a toss unless the sales team accepts the new software. Success depends not just on a smooth hassle-free implementation, but also on how fast the sales team starts using the new solution.
Consider the impact of the CPQ implementation on existing enterprise systems. CPQ implementation may alter business workflows to accommodate standardization or achieve integrations. These changes come with all the hassles and issues related to change. Identify such changed workflows and processes. Engage with the affected workforce to mitigate the fallout. Take proactive countermeasures to mitigate such issues.
Train the workforce. Create short impactful training modules to attune the sales team with the new workflows. Make sure the training videos and other interventions do not take too much of the sales agent’s time or intrude into the work.
Provide the workforce with a user manual that contains explicit instructions on how to use the software. Include a FAQ resource
Identify internal influencers as champions. Empower them as resource personnel on whom others may fall upon.
10. Track project progress
The dynamic nature of businesses means rules are rarely sacrosanct. At times, it becomes expedient to reconfigure pricing rules or redesign the product models. Many a time, pricing rules are trial-and-error.
Configure dashboards and reports with performance indicators. Get granular feedback on customer responsiveness to pricing strategies. Derive accurate forecasts, and cross-sell opportunities. Evaluate suggestions proactively, and filter feasible options.
Fix KPIs to evaluate success. The most obvious measure of success is improvement in response time to prospective clients. Consider the following performance metrics as well:
- Number of tasks automated to assess the completeness of the CPQ solution
- Time to respond to a client. Improvement in time taken to give a quote to the customer indicates the effectiveness of the new solution
- The number of customer queries. Reduction in customer queries after sharing the quote indicates a clear and comprehensive quote.
Conduct user satisfaction surveys to know whether the new tool has made an impact. Also, consider the extent to which the new solution frees up the sales bandwidth as an indicator of its efficacy.
Salesforce CPQ implementation is a long-drawn-out affair. Use the results of these metrics to improve the software.
Winning deals in a competitive business environment requires accurate and instant quotes. Salesforce CPQ implementation resolves the challenges and complexities associated with quote generation. It standardizes the sales process, and shortens the sales cycle. A proven implementation partner helps enterprises navigate the journey effortlessly.2