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Salesforce CPQ Challenges for Enterprises [Q&A]

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As a large-scale solution, Salesforce CPQ represents a great deal of change in processes. Implementations range from months to a year (or more), and successful adoption does not happen overnight. For those considering Salesforce CPQ as a complex quoting solution, they need to be clear on how the platform can benefit them, and where it may present some challenges.

To get those insights, we turned to Kelvin Tan, Valorx Co-Founder and Head of Professional Services. Kelvin has worked with Salesforce CPQ clients for a decade, supporting and problem solving their CPQ implementations. He has seen and heard from all sorts of clients on their unique needs and challenges that they hope to meet with the CPQ platform - and found ways to help them.

We recently sat down with him to shed some light on challenges with Salesforce CPQ, who tends to benefit most from it, who doesn’t, and what businesses can expect when they consider Salesforce CPQ for their organization.

1. Salesforce CPQ was built to address quoting needs. But who is it ideal for? Or if it’s easier, who is it not ideal for?

Salesforce CPQ is for businesses that need streamlined and precise quoting processes.

Let’s start with who it’s ideal for.

Complex Pricing Structures
For companies that offer a wide range of products and services with complex pricing configurations, Salesforce CPQ automates and simplifies the pricing process, improving efficiency and accuracy.

Sales Cycle Acceleration
Businesses benefit from CPQ's ability to quickly generate accurate quotes, taking into consideration numerous possible pricing scenarios. Faster quoting generally leads to improved conversion rates and subsequently greater revenue.

Customized Product Offerings
Businesses that need to configure products and/or services to meet specific customer requirements will find Salesforce CPQ useful for generating quotes for custom needs in a more efficient manner​​.

That said, yes, there are some organizations who would not necessarily benefit from Salesforce CPQ.

Simple Sales Processes
Many businesses have product offerings and pricing that are simple and straightforward. The complexity and cost of Salesforce CPQ adoption would outweigh the benefits.

Limited IT Resources
Businesses with limited IT resources will have a difficult time extracting value out of Salesforce CPQ. Implementing and maintaining Salesforce CPQ requires a high level of IT expertise. Without this, Salesforce CPQ will pose more challenges than benefits.​

Budget Constraints
Salesforce CPQ can be costly to purchase (and then implement) for many businesses.

2. Given the cost and time it takes to implement successfully, what makes Salesforce CPQ the right investment for enterprises today?

Salesforce CPQ enables very complex product configurations and pricing simulations.

This streamlines end-to-end quoting processes and increases sales accuracy. It does this by enforcing configuration rules, pricing logics, and CPQ advanced approvals. Imagine these rules as “intelligent guard rails”. With Salesforce CPQ, teams have a lot more autonomy to plan out and build quotes on their own, with the risk of quoting errors minimized.

Why is this so important? Well, your complex quotes won’t take weeks to create anymore so prospects see quotes much faster. As a result, your sales cycle is shortened. And the likelihood of closing is higher, because getting accurate quotes into the hands of your prospects quickly is a factor to closing a deal.

By streamlining complex quoting with Salesforce CPQ, companies drive greater revenue, with fewer resources, in shorter time frames.

Implementing Salesforce CPQ is a fairly involved process. Where do enterprises typically struggle throughout the implementation stage? How can they improve their implementation experience?

Failing to clearly define the scope at the beginning of the project is a major challenge for many organizations. This usually leads to significant scope creep as the implementation commences. And of course, this places a greater burden on resourcing and introduces a number of other challenges.

To avoid this and keep things predictable, the scope of the implementation needs to always be clearly established from the outset. As well, any deviations along the way need to be carefully evaluated.

Complex customization needs can lead to implementation challenges too. These can also be avoided by involving the right tools to support customization needs and CPQ implementation. For example, factoring in Valorx Fusion as part of your Salesforce CPQ implementation provides greater agility in bringing together complex data and gives key stakeholders critical mass data manipulation capabilities.

3. What are the types of scenarios where people come up against some of the limitations of Salesforce CPQ?

Very High-Volume Quoting
Users can encounter a number of different errors - timeout errors including the SOQL query limit, apex CPU timeout limit, and JSON string limit. It’s hard to anticipate when these performance-related errors will hit, so there’s always the risk that users will be stopped dead in their tracks when working on a time-sensitive quote.

Multi-Dimensional Quoting
Similarly, multidimensional quoting in Salesforce CPQ can lead to the same issues found in high-volume quoting. Each dimension for an existing quote line inserts its own additional line, quickly increasing the footprint of the quote., . As a result, even a modest quote with multiple dimensions can overwork the CPQ engine.

Professional Services Quoting
Professional services quoting requires a much higher level of customization. Teams need to account for highly specific factors including individual availability, working hours, vacations, time zones, rates, travel expenses for on-site work, and more. The Salesforce CPQ system is not built for this level of customization.

Poor Process Adoption
For many, Salesforce CPQ is restrictive or unintuitive (and this is exacerbated by any of the aforementioned scenarios), so there can be resistance from employees to use it. And, the fewer employees using Salesforce CPQ, the less value your business derives from your investment.

4. An enterprise has gone through all the steps to implement Salesforce CPQ. A few months later, they’re trying to figure out how to improve adoption rates, how to keep their CRM data online, and how to get more visibility into all the work the sales team is doing. The success of Salesforce CPQ seems to be lagging behind expectations. What are the options here for enterprises?

It’s a difficult situation to be in, but it happens (often). Even after taking all the right steps, organizations still find themselves in this situation.

The time and monetary investments have been made, contracts have been signed, and so going backwards is no longer an option. Also, the potential for Salesforce CPQ to elevate complex quoting appears to be there; the problem is that the utilization isn’t there.

It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. You need to prove to your users the meaningful improvements to productivity, but can’t do so until you get user adoption up. The question is how.

Organizations I’ve seen in this situation have benefited greatly from integrating Valorx Fusion. It may seem counter-intuitive, to solve a technology adoption issue by adding yet another tool into the stack. But Fusion is built to bridge existing technologies so that users continue working in ways that are familiar to them, while gaining the aforementioned productivity benefits.

For example, Fusion can connect existing spreadsheets, however they’ve been configured, directly to Salesforce. This empowers Salesforce CPQ users to use all the Excel tools they know, laid over their live Salesforce data.

I’ll share three reasons why this is very helpful.

Improved User Experience
One of the biggest reasons for lagging Salesforce CPQ adoption is the rigid user experience. Many find this limits how quickly they can generate their quotes, especially for complex quoting scenarios. As a result, users take their quoting offline in spreadsheets, negating many of the benefits of having Salesforce CPQ.

By syncing Excel and Salesforce CPQ, Fusion provides an improved user experience. All the fast and familiar data management capabilities of Excel are at users’ fingertips. But now updates and changes are reflected in Salesforce, in real time. User permissions, price rules, and other configurations in Salesforce CPQ are maintained. Users are still working out of Salesforce, but by using the UX and tools of Excel on top, they’re now gaining the best of both products.

Enhanced Integration and Data Management
Fusion provides better integration capabilities with Salesforce CPQ and other enterprise systems, ensuring CRM data is up-to-date and accessible. Fusion’s synchronization of data across platforms reduces data silos and ensures all teams have access to the same information.

Customization and Flexibility
Fusion offers customization options that are not available in Salesforce CPQ. These allow enterprises to better tailor the system to fit their specific needs and workflows, subsequently making it more relevant and useful for the sales team and other users.

5. While it’s possible to try and use Fusion on your own, what does the Professional Services team at Valorx do that is so valuable to enterprises?

We examine every use case when new customers are evaluating how Valorx Fusion can help them mitigate a challenge with complex data associated with Salesforce. Sometimes the use cases are pretty straightforward, or we have Fusion apps in our apps library that can achieve the majority of what a customer needs for a particular use. In these scenarios, we’re happy to have customers self-serve and as always, all Fusion customers have access to the Valorx Fusion Apps Library, our documentation, and our Fusion product support team.

On the flip side, a portion of customers exploring Valorx Fusion have particularly complex data models that have been built up over time. In these cases, the benefit of leveraging the Professional Services team is that our group of Fusion experts will work closely with the appropriate stakeholders on the customer side to understand the data model, the business need, and where the current solution (or lack thereof) is falling short of the desired state. The Professional Services brings a wealth of technical knowledge and expertise to customers. They have solved a number of unique challenges across businesses and industries over the years. They have built a level of understanding with breadth and depth that they bring to every new customer engagement. That’s how we help deliver a strong, tailored solution that is purpose built for each customer’s needs.

Then there’s also the expediency factor. Customers will often get from point A to Z faster leveraging our team’s expertise.

There are also customers who just don’t have the internal resources to self-serve in less complex scenarios. In these instances, we’re also happy to support. Our objective is always to ensure that customers bringing on Fusion successfully address their pain points and gain a lot of value. Following a deployment, our Professional Services experts enjoy seeing the surprise and delight of all impacted users when they recognize how much simpler/better/faster their workflows have become.

Navigating complex quoting today

Mastering complex quoting processes is crucial for achieving efficiency, accuracy, and chiefly - a competitive advantage. Salesforce CPQ offers a robust solution for complex quoting. However, maximizing the benefits of Salesforce CPQ requires understanding its capabilities and overcoming significant productivity hurdles.

To help businesses optimize their Salesforce CPQ experience and solve their most complex quoting challenges, we’ve produced an in-depth guide free to download. This highlights best practices and provides a strategy for harnessing the full potential of Salesforce CPQ and driving revenue growth. Get it free today.

Get the Guide