Hiring a CPQ Consultant: What should I know?

Welcome to part one of a three part series on what to know before you hire a CPQ consultant.

Where to begin?

So, you are thinking about giving your quoting team some powerful new tools.

Well, set aside your confidence in your implementation plan, forget your belief in how closely aligned your current and future quoting processes are, and let go of the promises people have made to you along the tool- and vendor-selection path. But don’t worry, we are going to help you out!

The goal of this post is to give you — the soon-to-be Salesforce Configure-Price-Quote (SF CPQ) project sponsor — the tools you need to maximize the value of your Salesforce CPQ implementation consulting engagement and, hence, your overall return on investment.

There are several items your consultant can and will do to help you prepare to implement SF CPQ. But should you really be paying billable consulting hours for someone to help you prepare things that you are perfectly capable of preparing on your own? If you and your team are able to complete the prep work I have outlined in this article, you will be arming your consultant with a running start, and you will be increasing the value of your company’s consulting engagement exponentially.

 

Define Your Goal – Your CPQ Mission Statement

A CPQ implementation is a big investment that requires time, money and people. It is imperative that a big initiative like this has a goal that is known, defined, and communicated to the entire stakeholder group. Making it clear what defines the success or failure of a project is the first step in getting organized and aligning all of the more granular pieces that will follow. State your goal, not only in terms of WHAT you want but also WHY. A few good examples of CPQ project goals are listed below:

 

  • “This Salesforce CPQ tool will spread the quoting workload from our current quoting team of five sales operations analysts, to the entire 50-person field sales team. This will allow sales operations to continue expanding their data analysis and visualization capabilities. Equally important, this will shorten the turnaround time to provide customers and prospects with quotes by 50-75%. Field sales reps will be creating and emailing accurate quotes from their phones or tablets immediately after meeting prospects, rather than emailing sales ops and waiting for sales ops to create and send quotes.”

 

  • “By implementing Salesforce CPQ, our company will speed up on-boarding of new sales reps because the product configuration and pricing “rules” that are currently tribal knowledge and referenced in documentation will be built into an intuitive interface. Rather than “guess and check,” “phone a friend,” or “hope for the best,” Salesforce CPQ will make it impossible for reps to include products that should never be sold together on the same quote. Salesforce CPQ will automatically select dependent products when the first product in a dependency is selected. Salesforce CPQ will automatically add in upcharges, quantity-based pricing rules and accurate freight calculations. All of this will be automated by product selection and quantity updates, so the quote builders won’t even have to think about pricing, let alone perform manual calculations.”

 

  • “Our company is finally going to get a handle on margins during the early stages of the sales process by implementing an automated margin-based approval process that monitors all products being quoted and the prices at which they are being offered. If a sales rep enters too high of a manual discount, they will be forced to submit the quote for approval — or go back and reduce the manual discounts they are trying to offer.”

 

Your consulting team will be able to help you define goals, match goals with CPQ functionality, and determine level of effort to achieve certain goals. But by having goals defined at some level before starting your consulting engagement, you are kicking off a project that has a clear direction with defined parameters for success.

 

Identify Your SMEs

The way the CPQ product suite was named leaves very little to the imagination regarding what the software does: configure, price, quote. These three areas are critical when it comes to outlining a project plan and determining resources. Obviously, your subject matter experts (SMEs) will not be able to blueprint and build a CPQ project on their own — but having them identified and informed about the project and goals prior to bringing in a consultant, will make a significant impact on the project’s outcome. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

 

Planning

Configure SMEs

  • Who are your product experts? Does your company have separate product line managers? Make sure each one has a seat at the table (and allocation to the project) for key meetings.
  • How are people finding products and adding them to quotes today? Who will be able to get this information over to the project implementation/consulting team?
  • What are the “rules?” (e.g., Product A can never be sold together with Product B; Any time Product C is added to a quote, Product D must also be included.) Who can provide these rules to the consultants working on the project?
  • What are the “adders?” (e.g., color, size, customization, etc.) Are there specific adders that should only be available on certain products?

Pricing SMEs

  • Does your company have a pricing team or department? Who knows the ins and outs of how your company’s products and services are priced? Please ensure resource time is allotted to the CPQ implementation project for someone (or a group) who truly understands pricing.
  • Are there different pricing experts for different product groups?
  • Who is going to maintain pricing in the new CPQ system going forward? Involve them in the design and buildout of CPQ so that they are ready to take over after go-live.

Quote (Output Document) SMEs

  • What does the project team need to know about quote document legalese? Is someone from the legal department going to be available and willing to spend time reviewing existing quote documents, terms & conditions, and the ins & outs of the as-is quote document library?
  • Who knows about dynamic terms & conditions? When and why are they used? Are there certain products that when present on a quote should trigger unique T’s & C’s to be added to the quote document?
  • Does the consulting team need to discuss branding with someone from marketing or brand? Output documents can be designed to show different colors and logos — even dynamically in the case of different companies or divisions if they have different branding standards. Who can provide the necessary information to ensure that consultants are able to correctly configure output documents to reflect unique branding needs either across an enterprise or even for specific divisions?
  • What are company policies as far as displaying discount amounts? Should we display pricing by line item? Subtotals by group? Total price for the entire quote?

 

Up Next:

  • Today we have covered “Define Your Goal” and “Identify Your SMEs.”
  • The next edition will include “Target Your Users” and “Document Your Use Cases”
  • The final edition will close things out with “Get Organized”and “Crawl-Walk-Run”

 

For more information about CPQ, contact [email protected]

 

About Eric Thiem

Eric Thiem is a Senior Consultant and Pre-Sales Engineer in Statêra’s Quote-to-Cash practice. He has six Salesforce certifications (CPQ Specialist, Admin, Advanced Admin, Service Cloud, Sales Cloud, and Communities), two Apttus certifications (CPQ and CLM) and has been working in the cloud consulting space since 2012. In his free time, Eric enjoys reading, downhill skiing, camping, and officiating youth ice hockey games. He also enjoys bird watching with his moderately-obese cat, Cartman.