6 Common Roadblocks When Implementing CPQ Software — And How to Overcome Them

By rhawthorn -

Your company’s sales team is growing and your books are in the black. Good news all around, right? Yet with significant growth comes increased complexity — and if your Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) process isn’t growing with you, the pain points will become evident sooner rather than later. 

Manually configuring a quote for each individual client will leave your sales team burnt out and at a disadvantage. It can be difficult (or downright impossible) to scale your quoting process without the help of automated software. 

Thankfully, there are CPQ solutions like Salesforce CPQ & Billing that are designed specifically for this purpose.

Salesforce CPQ streamlines your processes and expedites your quote-to-cash cycle — the time between the moment a customer requests a quote from your company and the moment the customer pays you. CPQ software allows you to integrate with other internal systems so the customer always receives the most comprehensive, accurate quote possible. 

While this software can make your salespeoples’ jobs much easier, implementing a new technology solution can be intimidating if not approached with a plan. As a Salesforce Platinum Consulting Partner, we’ve worked with numerous businesses to help implement CPQ software. We know firsthand the roadblocks that frequently arise and how to tackle them. 

Here are our tips for overcoming some of the most common CPQ implementation challenges:

1. Using Bad Data

The Problem: The data within your CPQ system must be current, accurate, and verifiable. If it’s not, the proposals you hand to customers could include inflated prices or inaccurate delivery times. This is true whether you create manual proposals or automate your CPQ process.

Imagine you’re running an end-of-the-year promotion on a product. Without updating your CPQ solution to consider the new prices, your sales team may inadvertently deliver proposals to customers that don’t include the savings you’ve been promising. Talk about disappointing your customer!

The Fix: When implementing your CPQ software, put a clear process in place for maintaining accurate data, and hold data owners responsible for keeping their information up to date. For instance, you may decide product managers are the ones who will update the product details each time a new generation is released; and the marketing or sales team may be responsible for keeping the system updated with promotional pricing. 

2. Integration Woes

The Problem: If you don’t integrate your CPQ solution with other essential software, you run the risk of incomplete or non-current data being used in different systems. This can create all sorts of problems, from customers receiving misleading contracts to inaccurate customer data being communicated to stakeholders.

The Fix: When you choose to implement CPQ software, consider how your data systems will talk to each other. To start, your CPQ system needs to integrate with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. It may also need to communicate with your product data management software, contract management, or other important systems. 

Choose a CPQ solution that offers custom integration or out of the box integration. If you are working with an implementation partner, outline all important platforms that you’ll need your CPQ system to communicate with at the start of your project. It can be expensive and time consuming to try to fix a data integration problem after the fact – set yourself up for success from the start. 

3. Taking On Too Much At Once

The Problem: Large changes to your CPQ process can be overwhelming for your team. Going from working within a spreadsheet system or manually filling in templates to relying on integrated CPQ software will change their day-to-day workflow. Users may have a hard time transitioning, resulting in user mistakes or overall resistance to using the software. Taking your process to scale in one fell swoop might end up being a costly mistake that affects long-term adoption of the product. 

The Fix: Consider using the Crawl-Walk-Run approach to roll out your new CPQ practices across multiple releases. Much like a business may change its website functionality over the course of several months, you can roll out the functionality of your new CPQ software in pieces. Start with the tools that are easy to use and will benefit the most employees; introducing these first will help spread positive feedback among your team and encourage other members of the team about the upcoming changes.

4. Not Fully Taking Advantage of Your Software’s Benefits

The Problem: If your CPQ system makes it challenging to customize a quote with an additional service or product, or it’s not easy for your team to remember to check current promotions and new product lines, you may be hindering your team and leaving revenue on the table. Some businesses fail to take advantage of their CPQ solution’s full benefits — including the ability for the software to remind your team about new products or promotions. 

Without reminders, you may have to go back in the system later and adjust pricing because your sales team forgot to include, say, a necessary add-on. This can frustrate your customer — or worse, cause them to walk away.

The Fix:  A good automated CPQ system can remind users of all available, relevant add-ons every time they use it. This mitigates the risk that customers aren’t being offered potentially useful products and services and provides a more consistent customer experience. 

5. Not Expecting and Preparing for Human Error

The Problem: A myriad of human errors can be introduced into the standard CPQ process. A salesperson could forget to include necessary shipping or delivery costs, or they may omit a product that the installation team will need. Expecting that your sales team will never make a mistake is just not realistic.

The Fix: Mitigating errors is everyone’s job. First, your entire team must be trained on a rolling basis and your sales team should understand how your products relate to one another. Next, set up your CPQ solution so that users are alerted when they omit critical information. Finally, institute a review process for necessary situations and identify the chain of command to be alerted when a mistake is made. Note that manual or complex review processes can slow down your quoting process, so keep the number of reviewers to a minimum.

6. Losing the Human Element of Communication

The Problem: Customers who are used to dealing directly with a salesperson during the quoting process may miss having the opportunity to ask for clarification or pose specific questions. While automating the proposal process means customers have a proposal in their hands faster, sometimes it can seem like a “colder” process to the customer.

Similarly, discussions that may have taken place between departments while developing a quote may decrease after implementing a CPQ solution. Without conscious effort, this may cause teams to become siloed and ultimately cut off communication and the sharing of data.

The Fix: Encourage your sales team to follow up with customers after each proposal is delivered. The goal is for your customers to maintain the ability to access their sales rep as needed and still experience the human side of your business. Every proposal should include ways to get in touch with your brand. To foster internal communication, implement strategies and feedback loops for different teams to check in regularly with each other regarding new accounts, promotional campaigns, and more.

Work With a CPQ Partner for a Seamless Implementation

Are you looking for a way to streamline your CPQ process? As your business grows and sales make an uptick, you will need the ability to produce proposals more quickly and make your quote-to-cash process more consistent. CPQ software can revolutionize your quoting process, as long as you anticipate common CPQ implementation challenges and build strategies ahead of time to address them. 

As a Salesforce Platinum Consulting Partner and digital agency, RelationEdge can help you implement your new CPQ solution and customize it to your business needs for accuracy, speed, and scalability. The best CPQ solutions are those that prioritize customer needs, efficiency, and transparency. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

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