CPQ process and implementation: A step-by-step guide
Speed is everything in the business world. You need to be able to deliver quotes to your customers quickly, accurately, and reliably. Even the shortest of delays can mean lost business. This can be difficult depending on the type of products they sell and how configurable they are. The configure, price, and quote (CPQ) process streamlines this workflow and empowers your MSP business to quickly facilitate orders without adding additional time or staff.
CPQ implementation is the process of implementing solutions to expedite quoting and pricing processes to make your overall business organization run more efficiently. In this article, we will walk you through some of the key benefits of CPQ and highlight everything you need to know to successfully prepare for and complete a CPQ implementation, significantly speeding up your average quote-to-cash process time.
What is CPQ?
Configure, price, quote (CPQ) software allows you to generate accurate quotes for configurable, complex products. Implementing CPQ software solutions makes the pricing and quoting workflow much more efficient for sales teams by providing them with everything they need to provide accurate and reliable quotes in real time.
CPQ solutions also provide additional information and insight about requested configurations to potential customers through rules-based constraints that can be added throughout the CPQ implementation process. For example, certain product or service offers may not pair well with each other. Certain CPQ software configurations can be set up to not allow for the customer to select both, eliminating an additional task for your sales team.
For additional information on CPQ and its benefits over spreadsheet quotes, download our free eBook, 10 Hidden Costs of Quoting WIth Spreadsheets, for a comprehensive overview of the subject.
The CPQ process
The CPQ process flow can be broken into three distinct parts: configure, price, and quote. Each of these three parts works to make the quoting and pricing process more efficient and simpler. Through software automations, they streamline product rules, pricing structures, and quoting processes to free up your sales teams from repetitive, menial tasks, allowing them to focus on the things that matter most for your MSP business.
For the end user, the entire purchasing process should be effortless. They want to just check a few boxes, add the things they want to their order, and see the price appear and be updated in real time. However, updating pricing automatically becomes increasingly difficult when offering individualized product and service configurations to each customer.
CPQ solution software makes this entire process simple by reliably providing accurate pricing and availability information and allowing for automated cross-selling and upselling. Additionally, certain CPQ software solutions can automatically interpret the items the customer is selecting, it is able to automatically suggest best-fit pairings and upgrade, providing additional revenue while increasing the overall customer experience by offering more customized solutions.
During the final stage of a successful CPQ process flow, the customer is given a quote. This can be done automatically by telling the customer the calculated price but is often not the best practice. With highly configurable products it is usually worthwhile to implement a CPQ approval process wherein a salesperson takes the CPQ data and turns it into a quote accompanied with their own additional product suggestions. While this is not as seamless as total automation, it can be helpful to ensure feasibility and quality of quoting, while still reducing the quote-to-cash time significantly from manual solutions.
How MSPs can begin implementing CPQ software
Completing a CPQ process implementation can seem intimidating when viewed all at once. One of the easiest and most effective ways to successfully implement a CPQ software solution is to break the implementation into smaller, more manageable pieces. The five main components all successful CPQ implementations share are:
- Define goals: Before making any decisions, consider why you have decided to implement a CPQ solution into your core workflow. Identify sales goals and key process needs, and allow these insights to inform the entire CPQ implementation process. This will help you receive the greatest ROI from your efforts.
- List needed features: Due to the highly customizable nature of CPQ solutions, it is critical to identify your key must-haves before building out your solution so that key business requirements are not overlooked. Some core features most businesses request are price books, guided selling, cataloging, and order management.
- Optimize quote-to-cash: Quote-to-cash is a series of interconnected steps, beginning with an initial customer interaction and ending with the final collection of payment. As this is the core component of a successful CPQ implementation, make sure to take the time to fully understand your sales team’s unique process and adjust your CPQ solution accordingly to fit their strengths and needs. For more information on quote-to-cash, check out our webinar, Driving Revenue: Quote to Cash With ConnectWise Business.
- Data management: Ensure all data is connected and shared between your core business systems (namely your CRM, CPQ, and ERP) before making your new CPQ process customer-facing to avoid inaccuracies or system bottlenecks. Always test and have fail-safes in place when completing a new integration.
- Measure progress: To fully understand whether your implementation was a success, it is crucial to measure progress and quantify the benefits numerically. Some of the best KPIs to track for this include overall time spent selling, Average Order Value (AOV), quote accuracy, and quote turnaround time.
CPQ implementation challenges
While CPQ software solutions can be incredibly powerful and beneficial for MSPs, it is important to understand some of the key challenges that can arise and make your CPQ implementation fail or be viewed as unsuccessful. Some commonly faced CPQ process implementation challenges include:
- Bad data: It is crucial that all data used is accurate, current, and verifiable. If this is not the case, the proposals sent to customers could be inaccurate, listing outdated prices or products that are no longer available as configurable options. To avoid this, develop and clearly define processes to maintain accurate data within the system.
- Compatibility issues: It is always important to consider the systems that are already in place when implementing something new. Before beginning your CPQ implementation, make sure that it will seamlessly integrate into your CRM and other critical business components.
- Human error: When setting up a CPQ solution, it is important to account for unexpected human error and make sure all automations and processes are double and triple-checked before fully implemented and customer-facing. This will help prevent the software from allowing impossible combinations or pricing configurations inaccurately.
- Insufficient training: Without the proper training, your sales teams may not know how to get the most out of their new CPQ solution. In such cases, it is not uncommon for sales teams to revert to old ways and ignore the new software. The best way to prevent this from happening is to continually educate them throughout the process and show them the benefits and time-savings that come with implementing a CPQ process flow firsthand.
Choosing your CPQ solution
One of the most important things to consider when selecting a CPQ solution is its ability to integrate with the other systems you already have in place, particularly the CRM and ERP systems. If a CPQ platform does not integrate nicely with these two core business software solutions, then it is best to move on and search for a different platform or vendor.
ConnectWise CPQ is a best-in-class quote and proposal automation solution, with unmatched flexibility and customization including custom template creation, sales coaching automation, and strategic vendor integrations. Additionally, our cloud-based CPQ software is accessible anywhere in the world, meaning business does not have to stop when you’re away from your desk. Try a free demo of ConnectWise CPQ to supercharge your sales operations and increase profitability through the power of automation.