Is a configure, price, quote (CPQ) solution a critical part of your business technology? That all depends on whether or not sales are a critical part of your overall business.
If sales aren’t critical, good for you! It must be nice working in the public sector or for a non-profit. If, however, you work for one of the roughly 30 million businesses in America, then sales are undoubtedly critical, making CPQ solutions critical as well.
If you’re new to the technology and just beginning your research, you’re in the right place, because we’ll tell you 10 things to know about and look for in CPQ. (Already using a CPQ solution? Excellent. Contact us and find out how to start using iQuoteXpress and use CPQ even better.)
1: CPQ doesn’t need a CRM or ERP system
This is mostly true: CPQ can be used as a standalone solution. And while there are certain sales proposal automation solutions tied to certain CRM or ERP systems, most may be used on their own. In some businesses (e.g., SMBs with only a couple of reps) a CPQ system — as it stores contact info and documents, provides tracking, and more — may even be used as a de facto CRM system.
2: CPQ complements CRM and ERP systems
This is completely true. Creating, sending, and granularly tracking professional looking sales quotes is outside the purview of most CRMs and ERPs. Just like you don’t use a CRM as, say, your primary email tool, neither should it be used as your sales proposal automation solution — leave that to the CPQ experts!
3: Product and pricing configuration are CPQ’s heart
Being able to add products to a proposal via a point and click interface was likely what fueled the need for CPQ in the first place. And while much has changed (e.g., being able centrally administer each rep’s discount permissions, for example), creating and controlling product and pricing configurations remain central.
4: Proposal templates are CPQ’s face
Your customers don’t see the aforementioned product and pricing configuration engine — they just see a professionally designed, targeted proposal that contains the exact info they need. The templates included or added to your CPQ solution are its “face” to your public of prospects and customers.
5: Sales quote tracking is CPQ’s brains
How many quotes do you have in circulation? Which reps are moving quotes quickly? Which aren’t? The business analytics and sales proposal tracking functionality built-in to most CPQ systems gives you the business intelligence you need to ensure your sales team is a well-oiled machine.
7: Flexible, scalable CPQ only
It’s no secret sales is a seasonal business, endless in its ups and downs. The last thing you want to do is be trapped into 100 licenses when you only need 10. Ensure your CPQ solutions provider offers per-user, per-month pricing so you can adjust your spend according to the speed of your business.
8: Cloud-based CPQ only
Sales people are on the go. Business technology is always in flux. There is no reason we can think of to have CPQ solutions (or any business tech anymore) locally installed. The only reason one might bring up “cloud vs. no cloud” is if one were looking to bring a list of nine “things to know” to an even 10.
9: Support is central
Software isn’t a screwdriver. I.e., no one buys a screwdriver, and thinks, “Boy, I hope this works like it did in the demo!” This is why you want to ensure your CPQ solution includes support from set-up through deployment through everyday use and optimization. Having the right help from the right people at the right time is always right-on.
10: What’s the best CPQ?
Sometimes it depends on the system. Looking for a standalone solution? CPQ with Zoho CRM, CPQ in Dynamics, CPQ in Salesforce, or CPQ in Oracle? We can help. But no matter whom you choose for CPQ solutions, make sure they hit on every single benefit above and you’ll come out ahead.