(As long as you avoid these kryptonite elements)
Whether your organization is a Series A start-up or one that’s on the fast track to IPO, proving a steady stream of revenue growth is most likely on your hit list. CPQ – Configure, Price & Quote – is the first step in a quote-to-cash roadmap and it’s all about automating the process of creating proposals and transforming them into contracts. Done right, CPQ is a hero of epic proportions for organizations looking to scale profitably… as long as you keep kryptonite from leaking into the implementation process.
Elements that sap CPQ’s strength
- Lackluster support from stakeholders
To succeed, the CPQ process needs an active champion. This champion must create an environment where sales, marketing, finance, and customer success teams come together and align. You can’t think in silos and expect CPQ to leap tall obstacles with a single bound.
- Expecting CPQ to solve faulty assumptions.
No doubt you’ve heard “garbage in, garbage out.” As with anything worthwhile, it takes effort to create a solid foundation for CPQ. That means you aren’t relying on bad math and hoping it will scale. That means you’ve worked through contract redlining and have a final legal version that’s workable for your organization and for customers.
- Unclear definitions to satisfy the deal desk
Remember CPQ is all about automation. You start with clear definitions and how deals need to be structured for final approval. Otherwise, you’ve just worsened your bottleneck problem. And, you’ve irritated your sales team and caused your would-be customers to lose faith.
- Fixation on edge cases
CPQ’s heroic strength comes from solving the majority of your deal flow. Don’t get tripped up on edge cases that “might” or “sometimes” happen. Solve those edge cases outside of your initial CPQ project.
- The final step isn’t a signed contract
CPQ’s end goal is to save the day… creating an automated process from quote to signed contract. If the final step in your CPQ process doesn’t have a customer’s signature, it’s simply a fancy calculator. It’s not pushing your organization to greater economies of scale.
- Thinking there’s a perfect tech stack combo
Choosing the right software combination isn’t a magical fix. You still need to be able to manage the stuff that’s pivotal to your business. So often I see paralysis when analyzing software and potential workflow solutions. Just pick a tech stack already. Then build your workflow around it.
- Abdicating training responsibility
CPQ is an investment of time and energy. Part of your responsibility is to do more than just providing a new tool; the team also needs to be trained on it. Sales enablement means your team has the right resources to answer their questions and fill knowledge gaps. And most importantly, you need to create an environment that demands they use the tool.
In my experience, CPQ has so many epic hero characteristics. It brings teams together. It creates repeatable, streamlined processes that have the greatest fit across the organization. It aligns business activities to revenue. What’s not to love and admire?
Proof CPQ works
Benjamin Reynolds, Founder and CEO of Alternative Partners
Entrepreneurial by nature and an artist by trade, Benjamin turned a career as a classical musician and performance artist into a Salesforce addiction. After working in a consulting firm, the nonprofit sector, financial services, and finally Software as a Service (SaaS), Benjamin had migrated from SFDC Solution Architecture to the broader and more holistic realm of Revenue Operations.
After seeing so many startups struggle or fail — not because of poor vision or even bad market fit — due simply to a lack of internal structure and process. Benjamin was driven to start Alternative Partners, a Revenue Operations as a Service (ROaaS) consultancy.
By converging marketing, sales, and success operations to drive accountability and efficiency, Benjamin helps clients pursue their core competency. Alternative Partners simply helps clients do what they do best, better.