Among its many characteristics, the right configure, price, quote (CPQ) system integration creates automated, streamlined processes that minimize manual errors and approval rounds, improve inter-team communication, and optimize the customer experience.
But CPQ is only as good as its integration and application. In other words, it doesn’t matter how powerful a software solution is if it isn’t properly designed, implemented, and utilized to its fullest potential.
What is CPQ implementation?
CPQ implementation is the process of configuring a CPQ solution to meet an organization’s unique needs. Implementation can be completed either by an internal team or using a CPQ implementation partner. This can include documenting a product catalog and mapping out all possible product configurations, collecting pricing and discounting rules, and creating review and approval processes through cross-functional teams.
Below are nine tips to help you avoid the common pitfalls of CPQ implementation and reap the benefits that many seasoned CPQ users are experiencing. Following this advice will help to ensure a smooth and successful CPQ system integration.
1. Define your organization’s primary CPQ goals
To set the foundation for success, it’s essential to identify the key business objectives and goals driving your CPQ system integration. These objectives will inform your implementation process, dictate which stakeholders need to be involved and when, and establish what steps your teams need to take along the way.
We recommend having your ideal outcomes in mind before you start investigating the various CPQ solutions and capabilities. It’s easy to get distracted with the bells and whistles when you could be at risk of taking on more than your team or budget can handle.
To find the best CPQ solution for your business, define the following before beginning your search:
- Objectives and desired outcomes
- Scope of what CPQ needs to do
- Estimated cost and timeline
- Major dependencies
Don’t forget to include the key players across departments who will be impacted by the implementation. Each will have important insights to contribute based on the unique vantage points of their roles.
2. Know your sales team’s pain points
It’s important to hone in on the needs of your sales teams throughout the implementation process since they’ll be the primary users of your CPQ platform.
Before jumping into deployment, design and implementation teams need to consult with the sales reps to understand their most pressing needs and what tools would best serve them.
Start by identifying the existing bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and backlogs sales teams are struggling with. This will help to ensure the CPQ solution has the right features to eliminate their most pressing issues.
3. Understand your customers’ needs
The linchpin to effective selling is knowing your customers through and through, including their needs, behaviors, and pain points. The same principles apply to your CPQ solution; more than any other software supporting business processes, CPQ capabilities must be tailored to fit specific customer needs.
Ask yourself the following questions so you can better define your customer and CPQ system integration needs:
- What product model best supports customer buying behaviors?
- Do my customers prefer buying bundled services or a la carte offerings?
- Do I need a global implementation strategy to support international users or is my audience limited to a specific geographical location?
- What dependencies exist that could cause process delays?
4. Capitalize on workflow automation
Sales productivity relies heavily on your team’s ability to quickly and accurately generate professional sales quotes. Day in and day out, sales reps waste time on tedious admin tasks that slow down sales cycles and create the risk of losing customers.
When done right, CPQ integration accelerates quote generation and automates CPQ workflow—such as follow-up emails, approval processes, and contract renewals—to minimize process inefficiencies, increase productivity, and boost revenue.
That’s why CPQ is the hero for organizations looking to scale operations and profitability. A strong CPQ design and implementation will help your sales teams generate quotes ten times faster while maximizing the value of each proposal—transforming lost opportunities into wins.
5. Keep pricing consistent and compliant
Pricing errors are a nightmare for any business and the source of many customer satisfaction issues—impacting performance, profit margins, and your company’s reputation.
Pricing errors often occur because pricing rules change frequently, making them hard to track. In addition, rogue pricing can cause discounts to be applied unevenly or incorrectly.
Your CPQ solution should centralize pricing rules and—more importantly—provide instant access to the most current offers and discounts. This will help to keep pricing accurate and consistent across customer interactions.
6. Leverage guided selling, cross-selling, and upselling
Cross-selling and upselling are proven techniques for increasing deal size and maximizing revenue streams. And sales reps can approach customers more confidently when they have a series of carefully designed needs-based questions to guide the sales process, versus a fixed catalog of products that leaves little room for customization.
The best, most robust CPQ solutions will include guided selling capabilities that can intuitively produce a list of products, upgrades, and optimal price recommendations based on the buyer’s specific needs.
7. Know your software and integrations
A typical sales organization needs to access information across various platforms to ensure a quality service delivery experience for their customers.
With an API, CPQ capabilities can be embedded into any eCommerce, direct sales, or partner portal, to help streamline configuration and pricing across the revenue lifecycle. With one set of APIs on a single data model, the same catalog and pricing information can be utilized across the entire organization, providing faster scale and performance.
This eliminates the risk of inconsistent data between applications, allowing you to manage revenue without having to integrate data sources with APIs.
CPQ is designed to integrate with CRM, ERP, CLM, Salesforce, and other legacy platforms so you can work smarter, not harder. Yet many system integrations fail due to poor customizations that don’t integrate well (or at all) with existing tools.
To avoid this, implementation teams need to establish:
- All systems currently in use and which ones will be affected
- Intended CPQ workflow and functionality
- How systems will interact post-integration
8. Get trained
Training is paramount for a successful CPQ systems integration. If users don’t understand how to use the CPQ solution, they simply won’t use it at all.
In contrast, when teams gain a clear understanding of the system’s various features and experience the true power of CPQ’s capabilities, they will be inspired to maximize its potential to boost efficiency, accuracy, and revenue.
As with any new venture, there will inevitably be challenges as users acclimate to unfamiliar tools and processes. It’s better to over-invest in training and support versus doing the bare minimum to ensure everyone has the necessary resources to navigate any bumps along the learning curve.
9. Optimize your configuration through testing
We can’t emphasize this enough: a rocky CPQ implementation is the surest way to prevent adoption of a new solution. Teams simply won’t use a tool if they don’t see it as a user-friendly asset. Testing should be incorporated at every level, yet it’s rarely given the attention it deserves.
Best practices for your testing strategy
- Testing plans and timelines should be defined and executed before deployment.
- Features shouldn’t be defined without a corresponding test case.
- New sprints shouldn’t be developed until the previous sprint has been successfully completed.
- For every positive test, at least two negative cases should try to break the system.
Common implementation mistakes to avoid
Failure to consider CPQ as a piece of a larger puzzle in the revenue lifecycle can leave you with a solution that doesn’t support your organization’s vision. Point systems may not be able to scale as your business grows. As a result, you may encounter complexity when getting data from one system to another.
Look for opportunities to use the same data set for multiple applications. This will help you avoid risk by keeping data synched between applications. Having a single source of data will also lower the risk of inconsistency and the cost of ownership. As you move up the maturity curve, a single data platform means that when you add new products, you won’t have to worry about new databases—or integrating databases between new and existing products.
How long is CPQ implementation?
CPQ solutions tend to have lengthy implementation timelines because they’re integrated into so many business processes. The full implementation process includes documenting a product catalog and mapping out all possible product configurations, collecting pricing and discounting rules, and creating review and approval processes through cross-functional teams—all of which need to be configured correctly.
The cost for CPQ implementation will vary based on the size and scope of the project. Also consider whether you are implementing CPQ software internally, working with a vendor’s implementation team, or partnering with a CPQ consultant. Be wary of systems that promise a fast implementation—these providers might miss key components or not go as deep as a CPQ tool should.
CPQ is designed to layer on top of already optimized processes. If you don’t take the time to optimize key business processes (like SKU rationalization, cleaning data, and creating a pricing and product management plan) before implementation, your CPQ tool will be less effective.
The ultimate digital transformation experience
Can CPQ rescue your teams and operations from the perils of error-ridden, outdated processes? Absolutely! We’ve seen businesses transform their digital operations again and again with amazing results.
- Aspect Software achieved 100% user adoption and reduced their quote time from six months to less than one day with Conga CPQ.
- AV Flexologic used Conga CPQ to automate its quoting process, resulting in higher accuracy, faster sales cycles, enhanced employee and customer satisfaction, and increased revenue generation.
Of course, each company’s needs are different, so every CPQ systems integration must be strategically tailored to create the smoothest, best possible implementation experience for everyone involved.
Regardless of whether you’re just embarking on your digital transformation journey or ready to take it to scale, the tips above will help ensure your CPQ implementation is rewarding for your teams, your customers, and your bottom line.
Download the Ultimate Guide to CPQ to learn how to provide the ultimate user experience and master the entire revenue generation process.
Editor's Note: This article was first published on Conga's blog.