What to Do When You’ve Decided on Salesforce CPQ

In my previous post, I discussed good indicators that your company should get Salesforce CPQ. If your company meets many of these criteria, your work is just beginning! To have an effective CPQ implementation, you’ll want to set up your organization for success. Here are a few key steps you’ll want to take when you have decided you want CPQ.

Identify Your Stakeholders

Moving to CPQ will be a big change for your organization, and it will be important to make sure you have a clear picture of who is impacted and how. Your team of sales reps will definitely be involved, but it will impact your organization more widely. Sales Managers must ensure their supervisees use CPQ correctly to get good information. Executives will need to know how CPQ will impact their reporting. IT must know how CPQ will impact your company’s tech stack and if it will cause any potential issues with existing integrations. Accounting must know how many CPQ licenses to buy and how much that will cost.

To help you keep track of all the different stakeholders and what their involvement is, we recommend using a RACI Matrix. Going through the exercise of making one can be beneficial in helping you identify all the interested parties and better understand what parts of the CPQ implementation are relevant to them.

Key Stakeholders in Your CPQ Implementation

Before you get started, you’ll need to identify a few key stakeholders.

Who will use CPQ to make quotes?

For a CPQ implementation to succeed, your end users must actually use the system. You’ll want to identify who will use CPQ features in their day-to-day work and communicate the plans and timelines to them throughout the process.

Most likely, they’re feeling some pain. Still, they might resist new processes—change can be uncomfortable—so it will be important to ensure they understand how CPQ will benefit them personally. Focus on transparency so they won’t be surprised when it’s time to switch to CPQ.

As you get closer to the go-live, you’ll want to make sure they get access to the training and support they need to use CPQ correctly. Knowing who is in this group will help you identify how many CPQ licenses to buy.

Who will need CPQ data for metrics/analytics?

Sales reps will use CPQ to build out the quotes, but who else needs to know what’s going on in the quoting process and what information will they need? It will be important to identify the sales reps’ managers, executives who look at sales data, and other departments needing sales data for any other reason (contracting, billing, etc.) and what information they need. This will be essential to determining which users will need CPQ licenses.

Who else uses Salesforce?

Are any other users in Salesforce going to be affected by a CPQ rollout? If you have a team of support agents working in Service Cloud, they probably won’t be impacted, but anyone involved with the sales process in any way might be. As you start to identify these stakeholders, you will want to note how they might be impacted so that you can communicate relevant information to them and pull them into the right meetings.

Who manages your tech stack?

Does Salesforce integrate with other systems? If so, what data is used by what system, and how will a CPQ implementation impact that? You’ll want to identify the person, probably in your company’s IT department, who knows the answers to these questions.

Who controls the budget?

Someone in your organization will be approving purchase orders and signing the checks for CPQ. This person’s support for the project will be essential, even if they aren’t involved with the day-to-day work. You’ll want to identify who they are and ensure you have their buy-in on the project, including the costs of CPQ licenses, any partner you will have helping you implement CPQ, and any other associated expenses.

It will be important to understand what information this person will need (e.g., what is your anticipated budget for CPQ implementation for this fiscal year; weekly burndown) and when they need that information (e.g., the start of Q3 every year, weekly) to ensure the process moves smoothly.

Build Your Team

For a CPQ implementation to succeed, it won’t be a solo effort. You’ll need to put together an all-star team. The key players are:

Product Owner

This person will be leading the charge on the CPQ implementation. They’ll need to understand the big picture of what you’re trying to do and identify the features they need most. They don’t need to know every detail of the sales process. Still, they should be able to engage in enough detail to answer on behalf of the company or identify the stakeholders who will know enough details to define requirements for a particular part of the implementation. If you’re reading this blog post, you’re likely in this role.

Project Manager

This person wrangles the cats on this project, ensures things are moving forward, and works tirelessly to resolve blockers. You must identify someone to manage the project who has some level of authority in your organization to ensure the necessary stakeholders get time allocated to their schedules so that processes are moving smoothly.

Power Users/SMEs

Identify a subset of end users as subject matter experts or power users. These will be the those using CPQ features daily, who understand your company’s processes, can do deep dives, and think about all the weird edge cases and exceptions you need to account for.

The SMEs will have the answers to what your product owner doesn’t know. You’ll want to make sure these people are open to change and willing to think about improving processes. Down the line, you’ll want to rely on these power users to help triage questions and potentially train other users. You’ll want to ensure these power users have time to be involved in the project.

Executive Sponsor

For a successful CPQ implementation, you will want alignment from the bottom up and the top down. This means you’ll want someone on your executive team on board with the CPQ implementation. This person doesn’t need to be involved in the day-to-day decisions. However, they must understand the value CPQ offers, support your team’s efforts, and ensure your company is aligned to adopt CPQ.

Trusted Advisor

CPQ is a deeply complex product with many features. You’ll need a sherpa to help guide you through it. This person should have experience with CPQ implementations and will ideally be a Salesforce-certified CPQ Specialist. This person will help you understand what CPQ features you can leverage to address your needs and help with your overall technical strategy.

Understand the Process

When you’ve assembled your team, your next step is understanding how you currently do things and your major pain points. A few key areas that are worth diving into include:

  • Do any products have pricing models other than the list prices (e.g., subscriptions, percent of total, cost-plus, volume pricing)? How are you handling those now?
  • Do any products require configuration? If so, do these configuration options impact the overall price of the product?
  • Do you sell any products together? If so, are the number of units set, or can they be adjusted product-by-product?
  • Should any products quoted ever NOT get passed to the Opportunity?
  • Do you sell products with volume-based or term-based discounts? If so, what do these look like? Are discounts applied to all units or just the units over the threshold? Do you have per-unit overage charges when more units than the highest tier are ordered?
  • Are there any times that adding a product to a quote should impact other product selections, either resulting in adding or removing other products from a quote, allowing or preventing a user from being able to select a product, or hiding/unhiding a product from the product catalog?
  • What does discounting look like? When should discounts be applied? Can they be applied manually, or can they be automated? If they can be automated, what are the criteria? Do you offer special prices to specific accounts or general discounts for partners or distributors?
  • Do you send quote documents to your customers? If so, what information do those documents include? Do you list your products in groups? If so, how are they organized? Do you have any sections that should be included or excluded under certain conditions? Do you have terms and conditions that should only be displayed when certain criteria are met? Are there certain documents that you find yourself frequently including along with the quote document?
  • When is a sales rep in a position to select products? Is there any reason they shouldn’t generate a quote at this time?
  • What does the product selection process look like for sales reps? If they find it overwhelming, would it be helpful to create separate buttons that will show different subsets of products or prompt them with specific questions that will help guide them to the correct products to select?
  • When do you submit opportunities and/or quotes for approval? Who should approve them, and in what order? Can any of the approvals happen concurrently? Should approvers who approved something before be required to approve it again when it is resubmitted?
  • If you have subscriptions, how do you handle renewals once the subscription terms are up?
  • If you sell physical products, what information do you need to track for products a customer has purchased? Do you need to track individual serial numbers or is it enough to just indicate that a customer has bought a certain number of units of a specific product?
  • What other customizations do you need related to Quotes or Opportunities? In general, the CPQ functionality should be able to address your needs related to Quote and Quote Line data. Still, you may need additional customization for Opportunities and some Quote-level functionality, such as validation rules.

You don’t necessarily need to have solid, fleshed-out answers to all these questions, but thinking through them will help you determine what direction you should be moving in. It should also help you to identify your priorities.

Defining Your Release Strategy

Once you’ve started to define what you need, you can start to think about a release strategy based on the highest priority features. As you can tell by the list of questions above, CPQ offers a lot of features. If you were to implement it all in one go, it would require a very large investment in time and money before it goes live and you see any return on investment.

In our experience, the most successful rollouts are incremental. We isolate the features that provide you with the highest business value, implement those features and any critical dependencies related to them, release those features, and then begin implementing the next highest priority features.

This offers several benefits: quicker return on investment, better and more accurate feedback from users that can be incorporated in subsequent releases, and you will have maximum flexibility if your business starts moving in a different direction that makes a different feature set a priority. The metaphor we often use is: right now, you’re walking. In the long term, you’ll get a car, but in the meantime, you’ll be upgraded to a skateboard or bike. Those aren’t cars, but you’ll be moving faster with those than on foot!

Release strategy phases

Manage Executive Expectations

As you begin a CPQ implementation, ensure you know how to maintain the support of your executive sponsor. What information is important for them to understand up front? You’ll likely need to be able to help them understand what CPQ is and how it will benefit your company.

You’ll also need to be able to talk about how much it will cost to get the CPQ licenses you need and how much it will cost for your trusted advisor to help you set it up. You’ll also want to think about how you will measure and track project progress as you begin your CPQ implementation, your key performance indicators of a successful CPQ roll out, and how to track that data.

Now You’re Ready

Once you’ve started to flesh out what you’re looking for with the items discussed above, you should be in a good position to reach out to your Salesforce account executive to let him or her know you’re interested in purchasing CPQ. You can work with your AE to get a demo for any stakeholders putting up resistance to help them see a tangible example of some of the features that will make their jobs easier to help get their buy-in.

We Can Help!

For a successful CPQ implementation, planning is paramount. However, a good CPQ implementation can pay huge dividends by saving your sales reps time and frustration, increasing your company’s overall efficiency, avoiding human errors on quotes, and speeding up your sales cycle while freeing up your sales reps to do what they do best rather than wasting time building out quotes and correcting errors.

Soliant Consulting has experience with CPQ implementations and Salesforce experts who can serve as your CPQ sherpa and trusted advisor. Contact our team to discuss how you can use CPQ to meet your needs!

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