04 Sep 5 tips for getting a green light to implement Salesforce CPQ
by Amy Cook
When implementing Salesforce CPQ, the first step is to recognize the platform’s strategic value in driving digital transformation—an issue we discussed at length in our last blog post. The second major step to implementation is actually getting a green light to license CPQ in your organization. That means you need to convince your CFO and other decision-makers that CPQ makes good business sense and that you’ve got a solid plan in place for ensuring rapid and widespread platform adoption. Indeed, in the back of every C-suite executive’s mind are statistics like a recent Gartner study indicating that 60% of big-data projects will never get beyond the pilot stage of implementation and will ultimately be abandoned.
To ensure CPQ doesn’t become another costly failure statistic, you need to develop a rock-solid business plan that convinces everyone in your organization of CPQ’s strategic importance. Even if you are already using other Salesforce products successfully across your organization, you still need to assume you won’t get an automatic green light for CPQ. Like any major technology initiative, your CFO is likely to be skeptical of the need for this additional platform and license, and your COO is likely to be concerned about managing the transition to the new system and re-training employees. Thus, as you build the business case for CPQ, you want to focus on the specific ways that it will guarantee a strong ROI and support digital transformation in your organization. Let’s explore five essential points you should emphasize to decision-makers as you seek their approval to implement Salesforce CPQ:
1. CPQ works synergistically with other Salesforce products: When you license CPQ, you aren’t just buying another technology platform; you’re extending the capabilities of your existing Salesforce platform. One of the greatest strengths of Salesforce’s signature CRM platform is its ability to analyze copious amounts of customer data. When you add in CPQ data on quotes and billing for all of your customers, you’re suddenly opening up a whole new arena that Salesforce’s artificial intelligence engines can mine for new business insights. CPQ connects to your product catalog, enabling quotes and orders to populate automatically in your CRM. With CPQ integrated into your Salesforce ecosystem, you’re also able to rank your top-spending customers, your most profitable customers, and your most effective pricing models.
2. CPQ enables your talented sales team to focus on higher-value tasks: Sales teams traditionally spend a lot of time generating customized, error-free quotes and getting those quotes approved. These routine, straightforward tasks suck up precious time—time that sales teams should be spending to build stronger relationships with customers. Salesforce CPQ automates these processes, enabling sales teams to create executable contracts using simple templates that are not prone to human error. Furthermore, rules-based approval processes can be set up to reduce reliance on manual reviews. Salesforce has found that CPQ users on average can generate quotes 33% faster and boost their productivity by 25%.
3. CPQ gives you more visibility and control over your sales cycle: The members of your sales team have all developed their own strategies—and often their own workarounds and shortcuts—for getting contracts inked. They may find ways to offer bigger discounts than what they should, or they may cut corners in revising and finalizing contract language. Unless a business performs an audit on every sales contract, these issues have traditionally been difficult to catch. CPQ lets organizations create business rules that automatically put restrictions on how discounts are applied; discount tiers can be created based on product quantities, the total dollar amount of an order, or percentages; and, roles-based authorizations can restrict the ability to override these rules. CPQ also automatically tracks all revisions and changes to contract language, creating transparency around the process of finalizing contracts.
4. CPQ helps you more effectively manage risk: If there’s ever a contract dispute with a customer and legal counsel gets involved, you can count on your legal team to slap your hand for any errors, imprecisions, and general sloppiness for the contract in question. CPQ has numerous safeguards in place to prevent these types of problems from ever surfacing. For example, as soon as your sales team selects a product option, subsequent options are automatically constrained, reducing the chance of erroneously configuring a quote with invalid product options. In fact, Salesforce has found that CPQ users on average reduce pricing errors in their quotes by 38%. Then, when generating contracts from quotes, CPQ automates the transfer and translation of the quote into the final contract language, ensuring sales teams won’t make even a simple copy-and-paste mistake.
5. CPQ is ideally implemented in phases: Salesforce CPQ is a robust system, which means that implementing all of its features can be overwhelming. Fortunately, CPQ features are easy to implement incrementally, with businesses able to implement any combination of configuration, pricing, and quoting features. Most importantly, of course, implementing any combination of CPQ features is sufficient to start seeing tangible benefits. Salesforce even offers CPQ in three editions; you can start with the most basic edition and easily work your way up as your business needs evolve and your comfort level grows.
Getting a green light to implement Salesforce CPQ often depends on your ability to articulate a business case that resonates with the C-suite. To optimize your chances, you want to emphasize several essential points, including that CPQ integrates seamlessly with and extends the capabilities of your existing Salesforce ecosystem. You also want to emphasize that CPQ will free up your sales team to focus on higher-value tasks, that you’ll gain increased visibility and control over your sales cycle, that you’ll be able to manage risk more effectively, and that you can easily implement CPQ’s powerful features gradually.
In the next blog post, we’re going to look at how to fully harness the capabilities of CPQ to supercharge your Salesforce digital transformation.
Amy Cook is the VP of Marketing at Simplus. She works with the executive team to provide a comprehensive marketing strategy for Simplus and is a creative hard worker, a problem solver, and a great multitasker.