September 23, 2020 | Chris Job | Senior Analyst, Global SaaS Support Services

A successful quote-to-cash (QTC) solution can drive your customer success by improving quote generation processes, reducing quote errors and approval times, and delivering better quote-to-order conversions. Simply put: reducing the time between quote creation and customer delivery helps close deals faster.

Salesforce CPQ (Configure, Price, and Quote) and Salesforce Billing allow users to connect any existing Salesforce workflow to a QTC solution, streamlining the customer sales cycle onto a single platform, with one data set and a complete customer view. In a well-configured CPQ environment, users quickly adjust highly-configurable products, apply global pricing with product validation rules, attach quotes to opportunities, and easily generate customer- or prospect-facing documents in a consistent format.

If sales users lack accurate pricing and quick-quoting ability, they run the risk of losing the sale to a competitor. The results of a great CPQ process include fast and accurate workflows for sales teams, clarity for the finance department, efficient fulfillment, and outstanding customer experience.

If you are a Salesforce developer or architect intent on implementing, revamping, or expanding your CPQ process, make sure you avoid the following pitfalls and adopt these best practices.

The Pitfalls of the CPQ Process

1. Poorly Defined Rules

As a system designer tasked to create a successful CPQ environment, you need to make every sales activity productive and valuable. If the workflow prevents sales users from accurately and quickly creating quotes, then they may stop using the solution. When you implement and maintain an up-to-date pricing system, you ensure accurate quote generation.

Validation, alert, and selection rules are an integral component of an efficient CPQ process. When users adjust quotes, the system uses well-defined rules to help fix errors, evaluate suggestions, and filter possible options. Product bundles, workflow approvals, user alerts, and built-in discount tools provide sales users with the confidence of an accurate quote.

Prior to the deployment of any new CPQ processes, you must devote substantial resources to the development and testing of rules configuration. Testing product rules saves valuable time fixing quote errors later and subsequent reconciliation in finance while providing a high-quality customer experience. Remember: with the release of any new rate sheet, bundle, or product, you must update and test product rules.

2. Configuring Quotes in Old Systems

Out-of-date legacy systems may create an unwanted “legacy” of problems for businesses. Sales users make the best recommendations when historical customer data is available for quick review. If sales users find the new process confusing, missing important historical data, or labor-intensive, they will likely seek un-sanctioned alternatives to build quotes. Erroneous quotes can cause billing issues, negatively impact the pipeline, diminish financial visibility, and create an inconsistent customer experience.

Some companies approach the problem by enforcing penalties for sales users that generate quotes from workarounds. The best alternative is a properly implemented CPQ solution, which eliminates this pitfall by importing legacy product data, so sales users have visibility into their existing install base while configuring products in real-time. When you establish a new system and a modified CPQ process, you must invest in training and adoption for complete utilization of the new workflow.

3. Lacking Back-Office User Personas

Most implementation projects do a good job of understanding the workflows of sales users who create quotes. But a successful CPQ solution should incorporate the same level of understanding for back-office users.

Your implementation process needs equal time for analysis of the finance and fulfillment user personas. If your product rules do not capture required accounting and fulfillment data requirements, the process becomes disconnected and harder to manage while increasing the possibility of billing and delivery errors.

Best Practices for the CPQ Process

1. Work From the Back Office to the Front Office

When you design a CPQ system, document the process backwards starting with the back-office users first. What does the back office need to invoice and fulfill orders? What off-the-shelf configurations, at the lowest common denominator for a product offering, should be listed? What products are dependent on other products? What are the nuances of fulfillment?

By mapping the customer output from the back office to the front office, you create the necessary documentation for the rules that yield valid quotes. Product selection by the front office during the CPQ process drives accurate contract, ordering, and invoice management – but the install of a great CPQ environment starts with back-office requirements.

2. Capture the Customer Voice with a Customized Console

When you implement a CPQ solution, the sales user likely will review customer feedback, order history, and previous contracts. For improved efficiency, a customized console view in Salesforce allows sales users to evaluate multiple historical records, invoices, cases, and service requests within the same window. Customers want a fast response, and conveniently located customer data will provide an efficient and friction-less sales workflow.

3. Tap into CPQ Expertise with a Service Provider like Spinnaker Support

With so many pitfalls for a specialized Salesforce product like CPQ and Billing, it makes sense to turn to outside help to ensure faster implementation and success. Spinnaker Support helps businesses and organizations maximize their investment in the Salesforce CPQ & Billing environments through a partnership based on expertise, execution, and service.

If the sales team loves the CPQ process and invoices are error-free, then your company receives a gold star for a great QTC environment. Most companies struggle with CPQ, and that’s why Spinnaker Support managed services provide the vital resource that global enterprises rely on for implementation, system improvements, and ongoing support.

Working together with Spinnaker Support’s dedicated team of CPQ professionals, you can be assured that your sales, fulfillment, and finance teams will function in harmony. We document, analyze, implement, and maintain a robust CPQ configuration that improves QTC processes that streamline workflows and increase profitability.

How to Gain a Competitive Advantage Using CPQ & Billing

Whether you’re experiencing Salesforce for the first time or have had the CRM for 20 years, it’s important to evaluate how prepared your business is to properly implement new technologies on the platform. Spinnaker Support’s team of certified Salesforce professionals have the skills and experience to help your organization manage Salesforce’s new releases and maximize the value of your Salesforce experience.

Spinnaker Support’s Salesforce Managed Services packages can help you to deploy the latest Salesforce innovations and ensure your organization’s long-term CRM success. Salesforce is doing its part to improve the quality and capabilities of its products. Let us help your organization to take full – and fast – advantage of those new features. Reach out and contact us today for an introductory conversation.

Chris Job has spent over five years implementing complex Salesforce CPQ & Billing solutions in high-tech, healthcare, finance, and professional services industries that operate on monthly or non-recurring revenue models. He has designed, maintained, and optimized CPQ & Billing systems for medium-to-enterprise-sized companies with over 1,000 CPQ end users.