What is CPQ
The term CPQ refers to “Configure, Price, Quote”. Practically speaking, it’s a category of sales tools aimed at increasing the efficiency of an organization’s sales teams to help drive revenue. The tool helps organize price books and aid in the creation of quotes to speed up the quoting aspect of the sales process.
Essentially, configure takes the form of a price book (or books) stored in your instance and accessible to your sales team. Price refers to adding products as line items on a record, quantity and per unit price getting totalled automatically and allowing discounts to be applied. Quote is the deliverable, a quote form saved as a PDF that can be sent to the customer in a simple, efficient way.
The benefits of CPQ on Salesforce
The beauty of having the tool built on top of Salesforce is the ability to connect all of a company’s CRM data regarding their customer accounts, contacts, leads or even sales campaigns to the quote tool. This can all combine to give the sales rep a holistic view of a customer as they’re building quotes.
A CPQ tool will be loaded with a company’s SKU and Product data, giving sales access to all the needed price book data and allowing them to build out quotes quickly. Since the tool is connected to account and contact data, specific company data or contact information can be pulled into the tool.
The next layer to any CPQ implementation is building out automation within the quoting tool. So based on data points on the quote line items or the customer being quoted, automation can trigger to remind the sales rep to offer a particular discount, ensure to include connected line items that need to be included with a purchase, or use a different sales tax based on the billing address from the customer’s record.
All of this combines to help sales be more efficient, more precise, and help increase revenue.
How does CPQ relate to PSA?
PSA refers to Professional Services Automation and in some ways is to operations as CPQ is to a sales group. PSA tools allow organizations to streamline their business processes within a single tool and combine activities such as project delivery, time tracking and revenue recognition while including automation to aid in the day-to-day completion of these activities.
Some platforms, such as Salesforce, allow organizations to combine CPQ for sales and a PSA tool for running their operations groups. When utilizing CPQ tools, it is important to draw a distinction between Sales and Operations within the software being used. It’s the job of sales to find new business, effectively create and close opportunities, and grow revenue.
When creating a PSA process that relates to or stems from the sales process, there shouldn’t be additional effort given to sales to help facilitate that, it should be happening behind the scenes.
A benefit of combining these two processes on the same platform is the ability to relate one to the other. For example, an Opportunity that has reached a certain stage in the sales cycle or a specific confidence level related to a potential close date could create a record that could be used to help operations start forecasting months into the future. This can happen without sales needing to remember to click a button or flip a switch, and operations teams are informed about the potential of incoming work. They can then begin to plan their resources around completing the project and delivering the work.
CPQ and Cloud Coach
Separate tools for PSA and CPQ give the separate business units more control of their experience while a shared platform allows them to communicate and build off of each other. Within Cloud Coach, implementations often involve integrating with an existing CPQ tool on the Salesforce platform. Working with the customer to create mappings between templated Projects or Project Phases and Product records (SKUs) from the CPQ side, the projects can be assembled from the unique combination of SKUs included on a particular quote.
This allows Sales to maintain their current process and as Opportunities progress along their stages, records can be created or updated within Cloud Coach to allow the Operations group to start forecasting for the expected projects. Once that Opportunity closes, PMs can be notified and Resource assignments can be made as the project is prepared for kickoff. Depending on the billing model, Invoices or Revenue Recognition records can be created at project close, or based on specific Milestones within the project.
Throughout the project life-cycle, resources on the project can collaborate using several tools within the project so everyone stays on the same page, as well as track time against the various project entities for precise, granular reporting of actual effort required for a project to reach completion.
Regardless of the solution selected for PSA or CPQ, it’s incredibly important to also work with consultants comfortable implementing those tools who can recommend best practices, aid in business process review and updates, and ensure that the tools are configured precisely for the needs of the organization – customization is a huge benefit of working on the Salesforce platform and shouldn’t be overlooked.