CPQ Implementation in Salesforce: Challenges and Best Practices

A CPQ software solution can alleviate many, if not all, of the pain points associated with accurate sales quotes. 

By automatically fetching product details, calculating prices, and accurately presenting configurations, CPQ software translates a seamless sales experience into shorter sales cycles. It excels at simplifying the customer process and removing any potential hiccups along the way. 

If you're already in on CPQ implementation in Salesforce, don't celebrate too early: choosing your CPQ software is only half the battle.  

So, what do you need to know beforehand, and how can you ensure a smooth implementation of CPQ? 

What is CPQ Implementation in Salesforce? 

CPQ implementation is a process that focuses on configuring CPQ software for a business to optimize sales quoting processes and enhance quoting accuracy. 

CPQ implementation in Salesforce typically involves: 

  • Configuration of CPQ features 
  • Integrating with other Salesforce solutions 
  • Customizing the solution to align with the organization's workflows 

It is important to note that the CPQ deployment term is often used interchangeably with "CPQ implementation." However, in the professional environment, CPQ deployment typically refers to the actual rollout or installation of the CPQ solution within the organization's Salesforce org. 

Deployment activities, on the other hand, involve: 

  • Installing the CPQ package 
  • Configuring user access 
  • Conducting user training
  • Ensuring that the solution is operational and ready for the sales team to use 

Industry Average CPQ in Salesforce Implementation Times

Industry Average CPQ Implementation Times

What are Some Common Challenges Faced During CPQ Implementation in Salesforce?

CPQ implementation is undeniably one of the most intricate tasks in Salesforce configuration. CPQ tools must cater to a multitude of options, conditions, packages, and logic, all while presenting them in a user-friendly interface. Striking the right balance between complexity and simplicity is a challenge. 

There are a few reasons for this: 

  • Businesses handle diverse products and pricing, which are challenging for manual tracking 
  • Various pricing models, from unit-based to subscription-based, bundled products, and different feature sets add layers of complexity 
  • Selling across regions implies currency and tax implications 
  • The ease of use depends heavily on the configuration of the CPQ tool, which requires specific expertise 
  • Lack of clarity regarding the benefits of implementing a CPQ tool, mainly if product changes occur infrequently 
  • The absence of standardized guidelines for products and quotes leads to unnecessary additions to the product suite 
  • Issues related to user input errors, such as selecting the correct price book, especially if there is no clear guideline or automated solution 

This is the general pre-CPQ implementation reality of many businesses. Let’s review the most common tell-tale bottlenecks businesses experience before CPQ Implementation in Salesforce in detail: 

Too Much Time Spent on Creating Quotes

Quoting becomes time-consuming as data is scattered across multiple systems, requiring extensive effort to gather and consolidate. The manual CPQ process is often overly complex, requiring prolonged training for sales reps. 

This complexity occasionally causes missed upselling or cross-selling chances, risking lost business opportunities. 

dont miss out iconDon't forget to check out: Salesforce CPQ Implementation and Consulting in 2024

Some Quotes Come Out Inaccurate

Sales reps struggle to track product compatibility and deliverability when selling a diverse range of products and services across various regions. 

Pricing and discounting processes are a nightmare when it comes to frame agreements and multiple context-specific discounts. This complexity sometimes leads to confusion, resulting in the issuance of quotes with inaccurate pricing. 

Too Long Quote Approval Times

Another inconvenience arises from repetitive data entry tasks across various platforms. There's often no way to streamline the data transfer of information from quotes to contracts. CRM systems lack built-in tools to check phone number reservations and monitor order progress from quotes and orders.

Prolonged approval times often result in missed opportunities, as customers seek faster alternatives by the time approvals are granted.

Little to No Order Flexibility

Let's say a customer requests changes to their existing order. If you don't have the appropriate automation to apply changes, resolving this issue involves navigating multiple teams, including provisioning and order management, to update their systems. This inconsistency often results in order cancellations and dissatisfied customers. 

Meanwhile, other vendors provide personalized product and service offerings tailored to individual preferences, and to stay competitive, you need to offer the same level of customization. 

Keeping Up With the Market Is Challenging

Enhancing collaboration among marketing, product, and engineering teams is required prior to the market launch. Months are spent creating, testing, and integrating new products and services, with occasional errors creeping in. Team miscommunications or unforeseen technical issues may cause these errors.

Companies that struggle to stay competitive usually lack automation and consistency across all channels.

Salesforce CPQ Implementation: Mistakes to Avoid and Tips for Success

Once you've recognized the issues you can fix with CPQ tools, it's important to approach the implementation with a level-headed mind. CPQ solutions typically require engagement with a third-party Salesforce consulting firm or certified CPQ specialists for customization to align with business needs.

Let's understand why CPQ implementations sometimes fail to bring the expected results or cause performance concerns.

Rushing into CPQ Implementation Without Organizational Alignment

Implementing CPQ doesn't happen in a vacuum.

To use it effectively, you need to identify and involve users from various business processes affected by CPQ, including sales, sales operations, product management, legal, and order fulfillment.

Furthermore, not configuring and utilizing CPQ-specific features can limit functionality and impede the organization's ability to streamline quoting and pricing processes.

Having No Clear Business Objectives and Prioritization

Without a clear focus on prioritized use cases based on their potential value to the organization or complexity, sales reps might scatter their efforts and waste resources. Goals may include automating quote generation, growing deal sizes, and improving order accuracy.

If your team doesn't know what CPQ software does for them, implementation can lead to delays, budget overruns, and underwhelming outcomes in the CPQ implementation process.

Not Understating the Importance of User Adoption

The CPQ implementation timeline might range from days to a few months, with sales reps needing up to 4 weeks to familiarize themselves with the CPQ processes.

Without a focus on user engagement and adoption, new CPQ processes may be met with resistance from users unfamiliar with the new system. Involving users early and often, gathering feedback, and transforming them into ambassadors for the tool can drive success in CPQ implementation.

CPQ Implementation in Salesforce Best Practices

CPQ implementation in Salesforce is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. It's crucial to have initial knowledge, appropriate tools, and in-house personnel who can navigate the tool for sales and product reconfiguration as needs evolve.

For a seamless deployment of CPQ, IT and subject matter experts should oversee rule customization and configuration options. Comprehensive training and ongoing support for sales staff are essential to maximize the potential for upselling and cross-selling.

This brings us to the best practices if you already have implementation plans. Here's what you need to pay attention to:

Ensure Team and Leadership Alignment

You, your team, and your leadership must recognize the value of CPQ software. Your team needs to understand how CPQ impacts the business and their roles fully.

Demonstrating how CPQ enhances sales and operational efficiency can sway leadership to support the initiative. Establish goals outlining expected business outcomes, efficiency improvements post-implementation, and estimated cost savings due to reduced errors.

Provide Comprehensive Training

All teams involved, including sales, support, engineering, and finance, require CPQ training tailored to their roles. Break down training into manageable segments, ensuring everyone understands how CPQ is utilized within the organization. Keep your executive sponsor engaged throughout and create ongoing training processes for both current and new team members.

Measure Outcomes and Optimize Investments

Monitor the results of CPQ implementation closely, identifying opportunities to enhance the customer experience and operational efficiency. Document these opportunities and implement optimizations based on feedback. Regularly review outcomes with your executive sponsor, document potential improvements, and conduct tests accordingly.

Prepare Documentation

Before commencing the project, ensure all necessary documentation is prepared and organized. It includes UI fields, data tables, logic for the configurator, pricing data, and templates for quotes and proposals. Collaborate with implementation teams to gather and review documentation for accuracy.

Set Up Environment and Teams

Establish the environment where CPQ integration will reside, connecting business systems like Salesforce through API integrations. Provide technical users with access and permissions necessary for their roles. Assemble a proficient team comprising both technical and non-technical members to support all stages of implementation.

Configure Front-End and Back-End

Develop the front-end UI for customers to interact with the visual CPQ software, creating intuitive scenes and interfaces. Simultaneously, technical leads should work on configuring the back-end logic required for the configurator, including pricing algorithms and rules.

Define CPQ Document Outputs

Design the appearance and content of PDF quote documents and proposals to be sent to customers. Customize templates and establish rules for output fields to ensure communication consistency and clarity.

CPQ Implementation in Salesforce Using Sculptor CPQ

As you can tell, implementing CPQ in Salesforce is a daunting task, mostly due to the complexity of the processes intended to be automated. Additionally, there are always risks of disrupting the sales flows and potentially losing revenue until your organization arrives at the point of the perfect CPQ customization.

However, readily available Salesforce-native CPQ applications make the transition to automated sales quotes quicker and less painful for businesses with unique product configurations. This is all without spending months on software that may not be what you imagined.

For instance, if your team operates on Salesforce Sales Cloud Enterprise edition, you can test the waters by integrating a tool like Sculptor CPQ. It is a 100% native Salesforce proposal generator that integrates smoothly without disrupting existing sales and operational processes. Plus, you can uninstall it if it doesn't align with your business objectives without losing data or restructuring your processes.

Here are a few highlights regarding Sculptor CPQ:

  • Sculptor CPQ installation takes less than 30 minutes with all features activated, while customization for complex customer needs may take two weeks.
  • A company's Salesforce administrator can easily set up all Sculptor CPQ flows, pricing rules, and approvals and customize its interface to meet the needs of a sales rep in a few clicks without coding skills.
  • Monthly and annual subscriptions are available, starting at $0 per user's license.

CPQ in Salesforce Implementation Checklist

In the checklist below, we have outlined everything we laid out in the article above shortly for your convenience and more:

  1. Identify and document organizational goals and roadmap
    • Determine the company's short and long-term objectives
    • Outline overarching objectives such as restructuring, modernization, mergers, acquisitions, IPO, or investor engagement
    • Plan for managing change throughout the transformation process
  1. Break down organizational roadmap into processes
    • Align organizational roadmap phases with the go-to-market strategy
    • Assess the current structure of the sales organization
    • Define the channel strategy and structure, if applicable
  1. Map out current processes
    • Analyze logic for products or services in internal and channel sales
    • Document existing product configurations for both internal and channel sales
    • Envision the sales process and structure based on organizational strategy and roadmap

dont miss out iconCheck out another amazing blog by Sculptor here: Guided Selling in Salesforce for Sales Reps in 2024

  1. Design Agile process for implementation and change management:
    • Determine how CPQ implementation will impact roles and resource needs
    • Assess financial resources required for software upkeep and yearly operational expenses
    • Plan how sales teams will learn and adapt to new tools and selling methodologies
    • Integrate new processes into existing workflows

This article was originally published on Sculptor CPQ Blog.


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