CPQ - Configure, price, quote software

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Configure Price Quote software - the key benefits

Configure Price Quote software shortens the sales processes by automating the configuration, pricing and quoting of complex products, services and bundles.

“configure price quote” software is getting attention from global companies looking to reduce errors and streamline sales of complex product. Configure price quote software will serve as a consistent front-office interface with all necessary integration to existing back-office systems.

CPQ (“configure price quote”) is more and more becoming a critical advantage in several industry verticals. Fast and accurate quotation processes is no longer something to strive for – it’s now a critical factor in the competitive landscape.

The primary benefits with Configure Price Quote software include:

  • Guided and automation sales process supporting your customers through important selection including configuration, quoting and ordering.
  • Central pricing processes for establishing, maintaining and publishing pricing for products, services and combination bundles.
  • Workflow for quoting including creation, management and negotiation of sales quotes.

Guided and automated sales process

  • Increased deal size by simplifying cross-sell, up-sell and solution bundles. Service contracts and other related services are quoted together with the product ensuring returning revenue for a longer period of time.
  • Reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction as incorrect orders are dramatically reduced.
  • Increased sales productivity when repetitive, time consuming manual work is eliminated.

Central pricing process

  • Pricing consistency and automatic pricing changes instantly available in all sales channels.
  • Defined structure for pricing to decrease the maintenance due to changing market conditions.
  • Pricing models based on customer segments with analytics feedback for continuous improvements. Built in dashboards for sales and pricing governance.

Workflow for quotations

  • Significant time savings to create, negotiate and convert quotes into orders.
  • Increased visibility and traceability in the quoting process.
  • Support for channel and partners sales for complex products.

What is CPQ?

Definition

CPQ is an acronym for Configure, Price, Quote. CPQ is used to describe the process of selecting components (configure), handling pricing (price) and generating documentation (quote). CPQ software is primarily used for complex products, services or a combination of the two.

CPQ solutions
  • supports a simple way to select valid product combinations with respect to product rules and limitations
  • price the product correctly according to bundling and discounts
  • creates an accurate and persuasive quote based on this information
CPQ software connects front and back end systems and automates the lead-to-cash process.

What is a CPQ process?

What’s included in a CPQ process? Is it all automated and in what way is it adoptable and flexible?

Configure: All complex products have limitations to how modules or sub-components can be combined. The user normally specifies key features and main products, a configurator handles all limitations and itty-bitty details.

Price: Manufacturing costs, geographies, competitive situation, and local protocols - the pricing can be just as complex as the product itself. The price adjustments should both be automatic but also offer flexibility and advice for sales tactics.

Quote: Documents describing a complex product includes texts, illustrations, data sheets, drawings. All specific for each offer generated. The level of details should be flexible and document generation should be fully automated.

Top 4 reasons why manufacturers choose a CPQ solution

What criteria can you use to determine if your company needs a CPQ solution? How can you tell when it’s time to invest in CPQ software?

I wouldn’t set out specific criteria as much as offer four reasons that I think will help you sort out an answer.

This is what we hear over and over again from clients and potential customers.

Spend more time selling

Is there a feeling that not enough selling is being done by your team? If so, this deserves your immediate attention.

Sales people are expensive and their primary role is to engage with customers and prospects. This is how your organization generates revenue.

Preparing quotations and proposal documentation is still a major tasks in many sales organizations. If this can be reduced there will be more time for actual selling. This is the first reason to invest in a CPQ solution.

Better proposals

A good quote delivers a vibrant, crisp and compelling proposals that distinguish you from the competition. A superior quote will persuade your customer and win more business.

Developing best practice for quotes, RFP documents and other sales documentation enables your team to increase the overall quality of the delivered proposals.

A better proposal will tell the customer that you will fulfill their needs and deliver what the customer wants. A better proposal that will provide important benefits and clearly describe the delivered value. A better proposal that validate that you have the right qualifications to fulfill the customer needs.

The proposal should send the message why your company better than anyone else can deliver the optimal solution with the highest value. This is the second reason to invest in a CPQ solution.

Get the price right

Working with complex products is somewhat problematic. To get the price right is a challenge and it makes a big difference when it comes to bottom line earnings.

The first problem: One option often requires another option. Forgetting that other option in a quote can be will severely reduce the profit. But to keep track of all options and exception is a difficult task that requires up-to-date knowledge.

The second problem: When multiple products are combined there is normally a reduction in price that only applies under certain conditions. To work with packages is an efficient way to expand the offering, but it also requires that up-to-date knowledge.

The third problem: In a changing world pricelists need to adopt fast. What was previously done on a yearly basis is nowadays more likely to be day-to-day updates. To be able to adopt to changing circumstances also requires that up-to-date knowledge.

The third reason to invest in a CPQ solution is the fact that up-to-date knowledge should be part of the CPQ package.

First to respond

When a customer asks for a quotation or proposal it’s unlikely the request is sent only to your company. The most likely scenario is that the same questions and requirements will be sent to up to a dozen competitors.

Companies with an implemented CPQ solutions reports that speed makes a difference when it comes to closing more deals. A rapid respond really makes a difference.

Being the first to respond will in itself not guarantee better business. But in combination with more time selling, better proposals and correct pricing it definitely makes a difference. That’s why it’s the forth reason to invest in a CPQ solution.

Top 10 reasons why CPQ projects fail

The CPQ does not have backing from senior management

The CPQ process is spread all over the enterprise and touches many groups including sales, IT, engineering, marketing and order management. The planning and development of a CPQ solution must involve all of these organizations and must address the requirements of each group.

CPQ is a knowledge-based tool, and it's never better than the actual knowledge and data in the tool. Usually the product expert or senior sales rep who is too busy working with deals, is the person most needed for this type of project.

Backing from senior management is essential, to allow for prioritization of the implementation of the CPQ over the day-to-day business tasks for all these organizations, including the busy experts.

Scope creep

Scope creep is an uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope after the project has begun. This is very common is CPQ projects as you learn about and define processes that quite often were never documented before. 

This is why it's important to define project objectives early in the project, and refer to them as much as possible when deciding on changes to the project. It's also important to have a defined change control process, with a steering group that has backing from senior management. 

There's no easy solution to scope creep, but being aware of the problem is essential. 

Aiming at 100% of sales done with CPQ

If you ask an engineer working for an elevator company how many floors the elevators can have the most, he might answer 100. However, maybe 95% of the sales have fewer than 10 floors, and all elevators above 20 floors require some engineer-to-order? So, does it really make sense to allow for 100 floors in the configurator?

We recommend aiming at 80-95% of the configurations done automatically by the CPQ software, and allowing for some manual work for the rest. The reason is that there is typically an 80-20 rule in regards to implementation, where the last 20% of the configuration complexity will take 80% of the implementation time of the tool.

It is much better to focus on 80% of the sales initially in the project, and to make sure there is a ready process for the other 20% of the sales. If the project is a success, why not aim higher in the next phase of the project?

Bad data quality

A good sales configurator will use your product data existing in current systems. But how good is the quality of that data today? Do you have an organization in which all knowledge is stored in people’s heads and documentation is missing? As stated above, the output from the configurator will never be better than the input, which means you need to make an inventory of your product data and documentation.

You might need to structure and systemize your product data before selecting or implementing sales configuration software. If you don’t, the implementation will probably take much longer than expected, and changes of the tool will be done multiple times back and forth before being able to release.

Too few or too many integrations

Implementing integrations take time, whatever the IT-guy will tell you. Even a standard integration may require some adaptation because the software you are already using and want to integrate to is probably customized. Adding integrations to all your surrounding tools will add up to a hefty budget, and with some delays added, your project might get stopped before it is released.

Hence it is important to prioritize integrations, and to allow for manual integration in the early phases of the project. Do your prices reside in ERP? Are they only changed every 6 months? Can you export them to Excel initially, to get the project going? If you can get a manual integration to work, try to push the implementation work to the future.

However, from a similar perspective pushing integrations to the future which require a large amount of manual work is also a bad idea. The manual work will cost money and may cause update errors.
When selecting a vendor, make sure they have standard integrations to the essential systems you need to integrate to. Focus only on crucial integrations in the early phases to allow for a quick return on investment. Add the additional integrations in later phases, and do separate ROI calculations for the specific integrations.

The configurator cannot solve the configuration problem

Configuration is a complex subject. To put things into perspective; the number of atoms in the universe is estimated to be 10^80. A configurable product with 100 choices, and 10 alternatives for each choice has 10^100 combinations.

It is important to select a configurator that is able to solve complex configuration problems, an incorrect selection of sales configurator may lead to being force to simplify the configuration problem too much and hence giving incorrect configurations or prices to the sales person.

Too much focus on tangible products

A typical product does not only consist of hardware, but also other intangible products. It’s not uncommon for companies to have higher margins on services, spares and extended warranties. These products should not be forgotten when implementing the configurator – because without these the configurator is not complete. And if the configurator is not complete, the deals will either be missing these high margin products, or the sales will simply not use the CPQ due to the missing products.

The CPQ isn’t easy to use

If the solution is difficult to use or just slow – it will fail because no one will use it.

Your solution should simplify a complex process, not replace one complex process with another. There are often tradeoffs in functionality when simplicity is the primary goal. Make sure your CPQ is achieving a good balance between these two elements.

The CPQ doesn’t focus on the key users

CPQ projects tend to be initiated by all other departments at companies except sales, because sales are too busy working on quotes for customers. Hence the key tasks of the tool often misunderstood and not implemented properly.

The most important task of a CPQ is to help the sales person create a correct, competitive and valid quote quickly – and what that means exactly is different for different companies.
Makes sure key people from the sales department are involved in the selection and development process to insure that their requirements are covered.

No focus on data maintenance

In most configurable products, the master data changes continuously. New options are added and old ones disappear, new suppliers emerge, prices change, etc. Often, these changes are made on a daily or weekly basis. Typically, these changes are managed in ERP or PLM systems by people not involved in the CPQ maintenance.

It's vital that master data maintenance requires minimal amount of changes in the CPQ software. It is also equally important that an organization is set up to be responsible for the maintenance of the software, because with even a minimal amount of maintenance it still needs to be tested and validated.

Configure Price Quote Software


CPQ is normally a cloud-based software that helps sales teams to automate their quotation routines and manage interactions with clients.

Configuration

The C in CPQ stands for configuration. This means keeping track of all the logic that goes into a complex product. Certain options are required, others can not be combined.
The number of permutations is normally enormous. Even simple products often have millions of possible ways of combining a product. This means that the maintenance-effort required to keep the product logic up to date is one of the most important factors when evaluating the configuration engine.

Pricing

The P in CPQ stands for pricing. The next set of logic to master is the rules and constraints regarding prices and discounts. Certain items come cheaper as a bundle, some item are alliable for bigger discount while other can not be discounted at all.
This means that workflow and organizational hierarchies are needed to do pricing effectively. Keeping track of prices and the possibility to escalate the sales opportunities to management is all part of pricing.
Support for different pricing models, pricelists and purchasing agreements are essential in pricing.

Quotation

The Q in CPQ stands for quotation. Texts, specifications and images all come together in an advanced template that dynamically adjusts the quotation for each customer.
The ease of use and flexibility of the document generation is a very important factor when evaluating how the quotation can meet your business needs.

For a global company it’s often a requirement that both configuration and quotation must natively support multiple languages.

Vendors

According to analysts the leading vendors in CPQ are Apttus, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP. Niche players in manufacturing are PROS, FPX and Tacton. 

Five common pricing mistakes a CPQ solution will address

Pricing is difficult and also very sensitive. Changes in pricing is one of the most effective way to level overall profit.

This list of pricing mistakes can be used to build a good business case for a CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote) investment.

Weak controls on discounting

It’s not uncommon that sales representatives are given a lot of freedom when it comes to negotiating the price. This means what the profit per deal is very dependent on the person executing the sales.

Discounts are often given without a controlled won/loss analysis and are more based on gut feeling. This means that prices will vary very randomly.

Without analysis and a proper approval process these issues will not go away. This is something a CPQ solution will address.

Inadequate systems for tracking competitor selling prices and market share

It’s difficult to understand the completion and most companies don’t put any effort into analyzing the lost deals.

With a CPQ solution it’s possible to benchmark the won and lost deals in a very structured way. It’s possible to find what key features of the product that correlates with won deals and also what features that are typical for lost deals.

Cost-plus pricing

Cost plus pricing is still very common in the manufacturing industry. The problem with this approach is that it assumes that the customer value is dependent on the production cost. Everybody knows that this is not the case.

A CPQ solution can price on factors that are actually valued by the customer and at the same time ensure that margin.

Price increases poorly executed

There is a problem when price increases can’t be motivated. If we’re not providing any new customer value, why should I pay a higher price?

It’s essential to plan ahead and do price increases as your product improves. If your new engine will cut fuel consumption there is no problem to pay a higher price.

That’s why price increase should be coordinated with product development. This means that timing is essential. Do the math and plan ahead. This is a process that a CPQ solution should support.

Worldwide price inconsistencies

In a global market it’s no longer possible to have inconsistent pricing.

By introducing a central storage for local price it’s possible to understand and correct price inconsistencies. A CPQ solution normally connects the global and the local prices. This means that a CPQ solution introduces the possibility to have governance for local pricing.

Why CPQ - business drivers at a glance

Configure price quote (CPQ) software cuts through sales difficulty to help leading corporations sell more effectively. CPQ empowers sales reps and associates to recommend combination of goods and services, generate accurate quotes, and gets deals signed faster.

With effective step-by-step guided selling and streamlined workflows for quotes, proposals and contract management CPQ software takes advanced sales to the next level. CPQ increases average deal size, accelerates sales cycles and makes your business more professional.