Are you considering purchasing a CPQ tool? Have you looked into many, and want to know whether Salesforce CPQ may (or may not!) be the right tool for your business? This article will help you discover if Salesforce CPQ is right for you. 

What is Salesforce CPQ? 

CPQ stands for Configure, Price, Quote. CPQ tools help businesses streamline their quoting process to get those deals out the door faster. Salesforce recently acquired the CPQ tool Steelbrick, and Salesforce CPQ was born. Though Salesforce previously offered standard quotes (and still does), many businesses are considering investing in the CPQ tool.

How is Salesforce CPQ different from Salesforce’s standard quoting? 

Salesforce does offer an out-of-the-box quoting object, but it is much less robust than what you would get with a CPQ tool. Salesforce CPQ is offered at a cost, but it brings with it much more functionality and flexibility to your sales process. Check out the graphic below for a visual compare and contrast of the standard quote tool vs. CPQ:


Feature (Out of the Box)

Standard Quoting

Salesforce CPQ

Uses standard product and pricebook objects

Uses standard contract and asset objects

Multi currency compatible

Ability to integrate with e-signature tools

Bundled products

Volume discounts

Partner discounts

Robust subscription product capabilities

Automated contract and quote renewals

Drag & drop template editor

Standard approval process compatible

What are the Pros and Cons of Salesforce CPQ?

If you are in the market for a CPQ tool, then you are aware that there is much to choose from. Salesforce CPQ is a good choice among the many, but as with any tool, there are benefits, pitfalls, and overall considerations.

PROS

  • Subscription Friendly

    • Salesforce CPQ uses a concept called multi-dimensional quoting to allow users to quote subscription products for multiple years.

  • Many Ways to Discount

    • The tool offers several ways to discount, including volume, partner, and customer-specific discounts.

  • User-Friendly UI and Process

    • The quote line editor is very user-friendly and aims to guide users through their choices. Plus, CPQ offers other objects that can truly optimize the quoting process:

      • Guided selling: Takes users through a process to guide them to the correct products.

      • Product buttons: Create buttons on the quote line editor, which provides a quick list of filtered products.

      • Product rules: These can act as validation rules, or alerts that let the users know if they made an invalid choice, and what to do next.

  • Approval Process

    • Salesforce CPQ is compatible with the standard approval process.

    • You also have the option of utilizing Salesforce CPQ Advanced Approvals package when you purchase CPQ Plus. This option allows you to utilize a few more features, such as approval chains. *It should be noted that this package comes with a variety of objects, and is a completely custom approval process that is configured through those objects.

  • Salesforce-Owned

    • Salesforce CPQ (formerly SteelBrick) is owned by Salesforce, so you will be guaranteed to receive the latest and greatest with each seasonal Salesforce update.

CONS

  • No WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Quote Template Editor

    • The quote template is powerful but complex and not always dynamic. Some companies may integrate with a web merge tool to enhance the look of their quote templates.

  • Team Training

    • Salesforce CPQ is powerful—but it is also very complex. It brings many new objects into your org. Much of the automation it boasts is done through these custom objects, and not in setup. In order to be truly successful with the tool, it is vital that your team (at minimum your admin) gets trained in the tool. Salesforce offers online courses and will suggest training at time of purchase.

  • Permissions

    • As previously mentioned, Salesforce CPQ will bring many new objects into your organization. If you have a complex role hierarchy, you should be sure to thoroughly review these objects and document what each persona should have access to. You may need to create custom permission sets based on your users instead of using the permission sets installed with CPQ (remember, you can’t edit these permission sets).

Considerations

  • Custom Quote Object Considerations

    • Salesforce CPQ uses a custom quote object, so you will need to transfer your users to the new quote object and cut off access to the old object. We do not recommend doing a data migration to the new quote object.

      • Why, you may ask? We have found that re-creating your old quotes may trigger post-sale processes, such as contract and asset creation. Additionally, you will need to reconfigure all of the quotes you import to look at your post sale object relationships, such as orders. For this reason, we recommend leaving past sale data alone and starting fresh with the new quotes object. That information is fine to leave in Salesforce, but you should remove the quote related list from opportunities going forward so your reps follow the CPQ process. It is not impossible to do this data migration - but if it is a requirement for you, we recommend putting thought into what the migrated quotes will need to represent and where the old information would go. 

  • Multi-Currency Considerations

    • CPQ is multi-currency enabled, but you will need to ensure all of your product and price automation works with all of the currencies. In certain cases, you will need to create new records for different currencies. For example, if you are using price dimensions, you will need one for each currency.

  • Upkeep and Maintenance

    • You may hear that CPQ implementations will be fast, quick and easy. Although the end result may make your users feel that way about their sales process, the implementation should be well planned and executed. Your sales process and pain points should be well documented before even thinking about purchasing a tool. And when you do go down the implementation path, remember to document your CPQ administrative guidelines for future users. Think: How do we build products? How did we build those price rules?

    • We recommend starting simple and then iterating in an agile way, especially for small companies.

Is Salesforce CPQ right for my business?

Companies, regardless of size, should consider CPQ if the following statements are true:

  • We sell a large number of subscription products, and currently, have no way to quote over multiple years. We struggle to give multi-year discounts and communicate those to our customers.

  • We bundle many of our products. We currently face challenges when we try to ensure that certain products are sold together.

  • Our bundled products often have dependencies or constraints based on the products within that bundle. It’s near impossible for us to accurately reflect this in our current quoting process

  • We sell through partners and/or distributors and give discounts to them. We don’t want to have to build complex workflows and/or process builders to ensure that the right quote lines are discounted. Also, we would like our customers to see the discount they are getting because of this partner in addition to the discretionary discount we are giving them.

  • We give complex volume or tiered discounts, which are currently being updated via an ever-changing spreadsheet or via numerous pricebooks. When it comes time to change pricing, it’s a nightmare!

  • Our renewal process is time-consuming, manual, and a bit fragmented from our sales cycle.

If the above statements do not sound like your business or the points below sound more accurate, CPQ may not be right for you:

  • We do not sell subscription products.

  • We do not give volume discounts, and although our current sales process may not be perfect, it gives sales reps enough flexibility to discount how they need to.

  • We do minimal to no sales through partners and have no need for an extra layer of discounting.

  • Our quote templates are simple, and we need the flexibility for non-technical users to be able to edit them at any time.

Salesforce CPQ is best at addressing the following pain points:

  1. Subscription products.

  2. Volume discounts.

  3. Product bundling.

Whether you are an SMB or a Fortune 500 company, if those three items are a large part of your business and currently causing you a lot of pain, Salesforce CPQ is worth considering.

Have you purchased Salesforce CPQ, but are not sure how to implement and configure it for your business? Are you curious about how you can streamline your sales process within Salesforce, but are not sure you want to purchase another tool to do so? Contact us to get the most out of your Salesforce (and Salesforce CPQ) investment.

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