Can’t Decide on a CPQ Solution? Here are Seven CPQ Must Haves

Sales ops leaders and managers know this fact very well by now: without a good CPQ solution, their reps are like rudderless ships floating on a stormy sea.

The answer in the past has been to turn to manual CPQ. But spreadsheets and Word docs require massive amounts of attention and provide little to no visibility into price points, upsells, cross-sells, or opportunities across a company. Plus, a lot of B2B deals change over time, and it’s far too time-consuming to go in and change all those details manually.

Can't decide on a CPQ solution?CPQ software helps reps, forecasters, and product distributors alike. And most importantly they help customer experience, the most important factor in keeping customers loyal.

There are probably a hundred different use cases for CPQ software, but when it comes to features to look for in your CPQ  solution, there are seven you should absolutely require, without question, because these ones will make your life (and your reps’ lives) a lot easier.  

1. Customization

The ability to meet your customer where they are and offer the right product, at the right time, at the right price is at the core of what CPQ is and helps sales reps accomplish. If you sell thousands of products with hundreds of configurations, you need the flexibility of being able to define an unlimited number of product categories and subcategories for an unlimited number of products.

Customizations shouldn’t end with products. Modern sellers also need the ability to configure deals, which often includes subscriptions, services, and bundles. In order to provide an excellent customer experience, CPQ should cater towards this growing need and trend for today’s buyers.     

2. Support for Customer Specific Pricing

If you have any experience in sales then you know and understand the power of multi-tiered pricing. Handling multi-tiered pricing via spreadsheets is cumbersome and error-prone, but a CPQ solution can make it super easy.

But you need to move beyond just different tiers--your CPQ solution should be able to handle pricing for specific customers and partners. Large customers or partners will have different discounts, and different products. Manually achieving this by creating different SKUS for each customer is not a scalable solution. You need a product that can handle Customer Specific Pricing OOTB.

3. Automated Channel Support

Your channel partners should be able to have an experience similar to that of your direct sales force, with discounts automatically granted, or routed for approvals through management if they violate your margin or other rules. They should also be able to configure complex products themselves with software that can eliminate errors.

4. Nested Configuration

Configurations can be the most challenging part of the CPQ process, especially if you have large and/or complex products requiring nested configurations. Whether you use serial numbers, nested serial sequences, intelligent serial numbers, or intelligent part numbers, your CPQ product configurator should support your part numbering scheme and be able to validate any part number, even if you have billions.

Nesting allows configurations that fit inside configurations. Any limits on nested configurations should be a warning sign that the CPQ solution you are looking at may not take you into the next level.

5. Automated Approvals

Your CPQ solution should automate and streamline your approval process while protecting margin. This minimizes negotiation delays and ultimately ramps up your sales pipeline. As an example, your quotes should automatically trigger an approval process if they exceed discount thresholds or include non-standard terms. Furthermore, your CPQ solution should place no limitations on the quantity of approval workflows.

6. Powerful Integrations

Your CPQ solution should absolutely be able to integrate with your other solutions, including your CRM and your back end systems. When you can set up and leverage the power of these integrations without IT help, even better. This forms a sales ecosystem where data silos are non-existent and every arm is in full communication with every other arm, creating a powerful network of knowledge and insight.

7. High Performance

Last but certainly not least, your CPQ solution absolutely must offer high performance. This means high speed in configuring, pricing, and quoting, This is a big deal for CPQ. If your reps spend valuable time on a complex quote, hit “add to cart” and get the spinning wheel of death, they’ve most likely wasted their precious time. From the customer perspective, you want your quotes to be delivered to you in a timely manner, and performance is also essential for complex configurations—without the horsepower to handle a complex configuration, you’ll never even get to the pricing and quoting stage.

As you continue on your CPQ journey, you will likely find more than 7 requirements, but these should be a baseline. To find out more, please get started here or give CPQ a try.

By Matt McEnerney | June 19th, 2018 | CPQ

About the Author: Matt McEnerney

Matt McEnerney

Matt McEnerney is a Product Marketing Manager at CallidusCloud with over 10 years experience in sales and marketing. Using an analytical approach to assess the direction of the market, he is responsible for guiding product messaging. Find him studying cloud formations, woodworking, or enjoying the outdoors in his free time.