CPQ Implementation: How to Drive Adoption (+Challenges)
CPQ software enables sales representatives and self-service customers to create accurate quotes for products with multiple, configurable features that usually can’t be figured out manually. It’s usually attached to CRM platforms as an add-on for generating quotes quickly.
CPQ platforms transform the way sellers track deals, attach line items to invoices, and generate quotes. However, without a proper software implementation strategy, CPQ investments will fail for various reasons; internal employee resistance, poor CPQ onboarding and training, and overall low CPQ adoption.
What Is a CPQ Implementation?
A CPQ implementation involves setting up quote generation logic, pricing models, discount rules, and product dependencies that’ll determine what a customer’s order costs, depending on the combination of products they choose.
A CPQ implementation strategy also plans the end-user onboarding process, including CPQ training and performance support for those using these platforms. A strong CPQ implementation strategy helps drive end-user adoption, which ensures ROI from your CPQ digital transformation investment.
What’s the Average Cost of a CPQ Implementation?
A CPQ implementation is an add-on to your enterprise CRM or ERP implementation. But you’d be mistaken if you think it’s a solution you can implement on your own, like a B2C solution.
You see, CPQ software works like an engine: the implementation process is where you enter the prices for your products, fees for add-on features, and other dynamic pricing rules, such as discounts for certain product combos. Then once it’s done, you’re good to go.
Integrating that system from scratch (as it were) can cost anywhere from $10k to $150k, depending on the CRM platform you use, the volume of your product catalog, pricing rules, and really, just how much you can afford.
Let me explain: Salesforce is a more mainstream enterprise CRM, so it’s a given that a Salesforce CPQ will cost you more than a HubSpot’s CPQ, which is essentially free, depending on your pricing tier.
Secondly, a Series B startup that sells 8 products with 80 possible combinations will need a less-technical solution, than a billion-dollar consulting agency with thousands of product combinations, dozens of pricing models, and an equally staggering amount of coupons, special discounts, and combo offers.
So, a larger enterprise will use a more complex CRM, with more integrations, customizations, and third-party applications. In such a situation, if you need to set up a CPQ system, you will have to address hundreds (if, not thousands) of dependencies to make sure the CPQ will work in the majority of the company’s use cases —as a result, a CPQ implementation for a sufficiently large organization may cost well into the millions.
Challenges of a CPQ Implementation
Your CPQ implementation will run into issues if you have too many stakeholders involved in the project —not that it’s an issue in its own right, but that too many approvers with their ideas of how the project should be executed are bound to create problems.
Poor data management also creates problems when the correct pricing value and dynamic rules are not keyed into your CPQ systems.
Think of it this way: a CPQ engine works like a calculator, but to operate at its peak, you need to type in the proper rules around pricing products, offer bundles, and account for different pricing and discount strategies.
10 Tips for a Successful CPQ Implementation
Based on several reports from research giants like Gartner, AMR Research, and Butler Research, anywhere from 18% to 70% of CRM projects fail or underperform expectations. When you measure by the number of organizations that report their CRM beats their expectations, failure rates are as high as 90%, according to this article by the Harvard Business Review.
There are several reasons this is a usual outcome across industries, either because the company didn’t have a clear vision, didn’t provide adequate oversight, or had too many hands pulling the project in all directions.
So, if we reverse-engineer these issues, we can find out how to successfully implement a CPQ solution without losing productivity, running beyond schedule, or exceeding your budget.
Here are ten best practices to follow when implementing a new CPQ:
1. Create a cross-department implementation team
To implement a CPQ solution successfully, you need a combination of front-line users (i.e. SDRs and AEs), middle managers (from sales, IT, customer service, engineering, marketing, etc), and the executive leadership to define the products and prices, and pricing variables you’re trying to engineer into your CPQ system.
A cross-functional team will keep certain departments from optimizing for vanity metrics, reduce the timeline for your CPQ implementation (because they’re directly involved), and ensure any issues that arise are fixed quickly.
2. Establish goals and timeline
Generally, you can expect a CPQ implementation to take less time than a CRM implementation (anywhere from 2 – 8 weeks). However, you still need to set deadlines and establish KPIs to help your implementation team stay on track.
It’s also important to outline:
- What your CPQ system should be able to do when it’s fully integrated (and what it shouldn’t),
- Risks and constraints you’ll be facing (both during the implementation and after, when you start testing your integration),
- The main dependencies your CPQ’s features need to work, and
- Metrics that’ll help you measure if you’ve been successful with your implementation, such as how long it takes to generate and get quotes approved
These metrics need to be measured both before and after your CPQ implementation is complete to determine if you’re on track.
3. Configure your CPQ
Configure your CPQ system with product prices, discount formulas, product combos, and dynamic pricing rules for your entire product catalog. This will take work from your IT team and sales leaders. Mapping out and configuring your CPQ is a huge step that helps avoid future issues and safeguards organizations from dirty, unclean CRM and CPQ data.
4. Clean your CPQ data before migration
You may need to delete or merge duplicate records, enrich whatever is left, and finally, figure out a strategy to make sure your stakeholders don’t arbitrarily create new rules and events inside your CRM that may stop your CPQ integration from working like it’s supposed to.
5. Create a CPQ end-user training and onboarding plan
Enterprise CRMs like Salesforce are highly customizable, but that flexibility means that SDRs creating events and entries without the appropriate validation will likely interfere with your dynamic pricing rules. As a precaution, you may even need to create validation rules and data quality process documentation to help your CRMs users understand how to use your CPQ functionality and why it’s necessary to make their data as clean as possible.
With a digital adoption platform like Whatfix, L&D professionals, IT teams, and sales leaders can work together to create in-app guidance and on-demand support content such as onboarding task lists, interactive walkthroughs, step-by-step flows, smart tips, pop-up videos, and self-help wikis – all embedded directly on your CPQ.
This overlay technology allows your salespeople to learn in the flow of work and find product support resources at the moment of need.
6. Have a beta launch with a small number of users
First, test your CPQ functionality in a sandbox with simulated customer interactions. And then, test it in a limited number of sales interactions to see how your SDRs & AEs are using it to manage opportunities, how much faster (or slower) their workflow has become, and any changes you may need to make to make your CPQ rollout successful.
7. Push the full CPQ launch
Once your beta launch proves successful, it’s time to roll out your CPQ system to your entire organization. Here are a few tips that will help you do so:
Create a library of help docs, resources, and interactive walkthrough content to demonstrate how it’s done to your users —traditional CRM companies usually publish help resources that are too technical for business users to figure out; as an alternative, your internal help docs should explain (in plain, non-technical terms) how an SDR can integrate your new CPQ feature into their current sales workflow.
Productivity may even take a hit during the learning phase when your team is still learning how the new feature works; it’s not a bad idea to relax your team’s quota until they’ve had the chance to get familiar with the new CPQ features.
8. Provide employees on-demand CPQ performance support
Most enterprise CRM suppliers offer support documentation and help desks that will help you resolve any issues your sales team runs into —you may even hire an implementation team to provide backup.
A DAP like Whatfix will help you maintain a library of on-demand content, such as pre-recorded explainers, in-app popups, tooltips, and embedded wikis that can guide users to generate quotes, add line items, apply discounts bonuses, and factor for all the edge cases your CPQ system is designed for.
9. Ask for employee feedback
As you implement your new CPQ, be sure to ask for feedback throughout the launch and application lifecycle, even after your CPQ has been onboarded.
You can understand the pain points for both specific roles and tools, as well as general software implementation challenges, which will help you create better implementation plans in the future.
Feedback specific to your new CPQ will help you understand how helpful the platform is, the friction areas inside the user interface and flows, and what features are being properly adopted. This may include questions such as:
- Do you feel you have been equipped with the skills to fully utilize your new CPQ?
- Are you generating quotes and proposals faster?
- How long does it take to get approvals?
- Are there any fringe cases where our CPQ system doesn’t work well?
- Do you need additional training or support documentation to properly utilize your CPQ?
But there’s no way to know how your users are adopting the new CPQ without gathering regular feedback from your workforce. You can use surveys, 1:1 feedback, or check activity levels inside your CRM to see how often your sales reps generate automated quotes.
With a tool like Whatfix, organizations can directly embed and gather feedback from employees, right in the flow of work. You can go a step further and use the feedback you get here to determine the type of training and performance support your front-line users need — and use Whatfix to maintain a library of on-demand explainers, guides, and help docs that will teach your SDRs and AEs how to navigate the significant friction points they face with your new CPQ functionality.
10. Monitor CPQ adoption with end-user analytics
The post-implementation phase will require your IT and sales team to continuously monitor the level of CPQ adoption across your workforce. After the initial rollout of your CPQ system, you need to ask retrospective questions to yourself about how the implementation went, such as:
- What do the learning curve and onboarding process look like for your new CPQ system?
- How effective are our CPQ onboarding and training?
- What’s the overall time-to-value?
- How often are our sales reps using the CPQ platform to generate and edit quotes?
- How are various features and user flows being used? Are there friction points that employees are failing to adopt?
- What is the general sentiment towards the new tool? Is it yet another tool your team uses because they must, or do they consider it a valuable addition to their workflow?
- Are there features or processes that our employees need additional training and support on?
For instance, although 91% of companies with at least 10 employees use a CRM to manage their sales process, 76% of sales leaders report that their teams don’t use the majority of tools at their disposal, either because they’re too difficult to use, or because they haven’t developed the competency required to make it a core part of their daily workflow.
With a digital adoption platform like Whatfix, sales teams can capture end-user analytics that provide insights into your overall CPQ adoption, pain points in its user flows, what features and processes are being under-adopted, what training and onboarding flows are the most helpful, and overall levels of CPQ. adoption.
CPQ software enables your SDRs with super powers: it’ll shorten your response times, help you create accurate dynamic offers (with discounts for product combos, for example) automatically, and helps your sales reps project a refined brand image vs. sending prospects multiple spreadsheets for each update to a quote.
Whatfix will help you speed up your CPQ adoption with on-demand training resources your sales team can access right inside your CRM.
Whether you’re using Salesforce, SAP, Netsuite, or some other enterprise CRM, Whatfix acts as a canvas on top of your CRM dashboard that provides tips, explainers, and walkthrough videos that guide your SDRs, AEs, and everyone involved in the sales process on how to use your CRM at full capacity.