Salesforce CPQ or Apttus: There is a difference worth exploring

by Katy Rudd, Benjamin Apa, Robert O’Donnell, and David Janke

What makes Salesforce CPQ the right choice for you? 

To answer that, we need to take a step back and start with what made ‘Salesforce’ the right choice for you. Sure, it’s been named the leader in the Gartner Sales Force Automation magic quadrant for 13 consecutive years. For a moment though, put its core platform capabilities and vision aside. 

If you were to put together a list of what else makes Salesforce great, the chances are that list would include the following:

    • Comprehensive knowledge base and support community
    • Steady and governed release cycles
    • Clear and communicated product roadmap
    • Valuable training and certification opportunities
    • Extensibility of the platform via third-party applications and open API
    • A vast array of available partners

Ever since Salesforce decided to invest in CPQ as a platform, they’ve gone to great lengths to ensure it’s inherited these inherent advantages that make Salesforce the best of its kind. Stacking up Salesforce CPQ against its competitors, in each of these areas, Salesforce clearly has the edge. 


Let’s start with the partners

Actually, let’s start with why a partner is even necessary. According to a senior solution architect at Simplus, “We do rescue efforts all the time. CPQ is just not usually something that can be self-implemented.” It has ties to so many critical parts of the business, such as sales, order management, contract management, delivery, billing, and financial reporting. You’ll likely need a partner for this journey, so it’s important to know that you have the best selection from which to choose.

“The Salesforce ecosystem in 2019 is more than four times larger than Salesforce itself and will grow to almost six times larger by 2024,” according to IDC research.  Why are so many partners joining the Salesforce ecosystem? One answer is that Salesforce invests in its partners, making them easy for customers to do business with. This is also true of Salesforce CPQ. 

From initial implementation or phased releases to ongoing managed services, you have the entire Salesforce partner community at your disposal. These partners are plentiful and easy to access; And while you likely had your choice of excellent partners to help with your implementation of Apttus CPQ, there really is no comparison when searching for partners to implement a Salesforce native application like Salesforce CPQ.


Extensible now and for the future

While there’s no such thing as a perfect tool, Salesforce CPQ regularly resolves the majority of key business requirements with out-of-the-box capabilities and with an unmatched partner and solution ecosystem. It’s not unusual to find an Apttus implementation requiring a greater degree of customization to meet your business’ needs, resulting in difficult upgrade cycles, and potentially more administrative overhead. Additionally, Salesforce’s product roadmap is very visible, so you can make informed decisions about whether or not any needed customizations make sense now, or are worth a wait. 

Salesforce CPQ also provides a launchpad for leveraging 3rd party applications and plugins. For example, we’ve talked about the native look and feel of the CPQ UI and UX in earlier blog posts. For many, it’s already seen as a value add. However, some of our CPQ customers are delighted to hear that it can be extended even further. Out of the box, CPQ affords you theming tools, allowing you to control font type, size, theme colors, spacing, etc. But the true magic lies in the capability to leverage custom and 3rd party plugins for things like product search, product configuration, and external quote configuration pages.  

Another one of the many ways Salesforce can extend the value of CPQ is with Einstein. Through Einstein, users can combine the advanced analytics of pricing trends with CPQ pricing guidance. This powerful combination of toolsets, built and supported by Salesforce, helps CPQ users make more informed decisions while pricing their quote. And there are many other apps on the AppExchange that work natively with Salesforce CPQ.  

While Apttus has some features similar to pricing guidance functionality, it may be challenging to find a partner to help implement it in a way that works for your business. It also will not be supported, documented, nor enhanced through release cycles by Salesforce. Choosing the correct foundation now, considering all of these factors, is integral to long term success and scalability. 

This is where you really begin to see that Salesforce difference. While Apttus CPQ may have many of the features you want, it doesn’t offer the same level of extensibility, nor the type of landscape of third-party applications that can be leveraged via Salesforce CPQ. The Salesforce ecosystem is strong, broad, and deep, offering solutions that can make Salesforce CPQ an even better fit for your needs.


Salesforce CPQ: Just getting started

The investment that Salesforce has made in CPQ is evident in their transparency and the resources they offer. They’re even giving users a roadmap to follow. 

Recently they invited some of the team here at Simplus to be part of a project they were working on for a $40 billion-plus revenue client. Salesforce wanted feedback from customers to help them improve in the best way, and that real-time, real-world feedback helps them make a better product. And because they’re transparent about upcoming changes, you don’t have to wonder if a particular feature you want will ever improve your CPQ experience—you know.

At the end of the day, business is not just about capabilities; it’s about relationships. Where Salesforce CPQ allows you to harness the power of Salesforce’s ecosystem, the right partner will help you to leverage that ecosystem in the right way. Forging a relationship with an experienced, proven implementation partner like Simplus will prove critical to help you simplify the journey that lies ahead. 


Benjamin is a Simplus Senior Consultant focused on CPQ and with over 11 years of delivery experience, primarily in enterprise implementations. He’s performed in various roles across these implementations, including lead consultant, solution architect, and project manager. Ben’s focus on any given project is to achieve practical solutions that are driven by functional need but balanced by technical accord.

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David is a Senior Delivery Manager here at Simplus. An experienced consultant with an accounting/finance background, David has over nine years of experience in both internal consulting operations as well as client-facing engagements. Additionally, David has deep experience across the Salesforce.com ecosystem, leading implementations in an external client-facing role across a range of industries.

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Robert is a CPQ Architect here at Simplus. He is an experienced consultant with extensive expertise in CPQ, finance, CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management), Project / Program Management, and Change Management. He oversaw the largest CPQ implementations at Oracle (250k users for a full global rollout). This encompassed unique and highly customized use cases.

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katy ruddKaty is a Principal Consultant here at Simplus. She began her career on the business side, moved into a technologist role, then into solution sales and transformation. She works with companies of all sizes to bring operational improvement, transformative solutions, and, most importantly, empathy and compassion into business processes.

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