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Simplifying Sales Processes: A Trending Tool Gets a Closer Look

Nov. 24, 2021
What to look for in configure, price and quote (CPQ) software, and what it can do.

As companies in manufacturing, life sciences and other sectors increasingly sell through multiple channels, configure, price, and quote (CPQ) solutions can help manage complex sales quotes, pricing negotiations and terms, approvals, and other sales processes.

Selecting the right CPQ and implementing it properly can save sales teams time, prevent revenue lost to miscommunications, improve branding, and enhance the employee and customer experience.

These benefits and manufacturing’s digital transformation explains why the CPQ market grew by 15.5% in 2019—and why it will likely continue to grow as companies optimize their technology in the wake of the pandemic.

With many CPQ options in the market, organizations can benefit from understanding how this kind of solution can help them and what to look for before they commit to a particular CPQ product.

Saving time, avoiding losses, and creating a better experience

One of the biggest challenges many sales teams face is dealing with inefficient manual processes. Often, salespeople use spreadsheets for coding, defining what products can be sold to which customers and pricing. Sometimes they’re working in a different spreadsheet for each of those tasks.

Toggling between files and sharing them via email can waste time and cause lost revenue when quotes are based on mistakes in transferring data from one file to another or on data pulled from an out-of-date spreadsheet. Manual processes may also slow down approvals or remove them all together, which can lead to lower-than-expected margins.

 A CPQ tool puts all the required data and functionality into one cloud-based tool for the team and generates branded documents that are straightforward for sales teams and customers to access, read, and sign in the cloud. That can be a better customer experience (CX), build credibility and save time, compared to emailing over a quote in a spreadsheet, terms and conditions in a Word document, and an MSA as a PDF, for example.

Improving the purchasing experience with CPQ

CPQ can share customer data across integrated commerce, product visualization and marketing platforms to provide more personalized messaging and offers, identify more cross-sell and upsell opportunities and provide customized service and support.

A CPQ-commerce integration can also support a self-service portal where customers can configure, price, and purchase orders on their own. B2B self-service was in demand before the pandemic. And a CPQ that’s integrated with a subscription billing solution can help businesses build a slate of subscription product and service options, including automated quote generation, and renewals. That integration can also provide data for marketing and sales teams to customize offerings and meet changing customer needs and expectations.

Successful CPQ implementations

CPQ implementations typically follow the same methodology as other projects, such as Agile, Waterfall, or a hybrid approach. Many CPQ implementations involve two or more integrations—usually with ERP, CRM, and commerce systems. That requires a timeline of roughly five to eight months to complete. However, the exact timeline will vary depending on the number and type of integrations required, the languages the CPQ will need to support, and the markets involved, as well as other factors.

Implementation requires a proper scope and organized data. For example, almost all organizations will need to have their ERP data ready to integrate with the new CPQ. Adding data to the ERP system during the CPQ implementation will cause discrepancies that take time to resolve.

Another best practice is to not just reproduce existing processes in CPQ, because the goal is to become more efficient, and sometimes that requires reimagining sales processes. Sticking with current processes can make the customization process take longer and cause the CPQ to underperform. That can result in reduced benefits and longer time-to-value from the CPQ investment.

A more effective approach is to focus on the results you want from your CPQ. Then you can gather the requirements to deliver those results and work with your design team, IT, sales, and other stakeholders to customize the platform to deliver what you need. The result should be a change in processes that leads to more efficiency, more revenue, lower costs and a better experience for employees and customers.

Amy Goldberg is the senior director for SAP CPQ at Capgemini. She leads all North American activities for SAP CPQ including team development and training, project scoping and staffing, executive sponsorship and marketing support. Amy has 10 years of CPQ experience, and previously ran the CPQ practices at SMITH and Canidium.

Lee Goldberg is the SAP customer experience go-to-market leader at Capgemini Americas. Lee is a senior leader and has over 10 years of experience in the SAP ecosystem. He has deep expertise in SAP CPQ, Commerce Cloud, CRM, CDC, and professional services.

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