Why I like implementing Salesforce CPQ & Billing (Steelbrick)

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Jan Vandevelde

Jan Vandevelde

When I joined 4C I was almost immediately sent off to a technical training bootcamp on Salesforce CPQ in London. I had a lot of experience with standard Salesforce features, but not with Salesforce CPQ and the demand for it was growing enormously. So I was very lucky 4C gave me this chance to expand my expertise with this high-in-demand package.

Completely amazed with the declarative capabilities after the bootcamp, I started helping customers streamline and speed up their quote configuration processes. But to understand what I’m talking about, let’s first explain what Salesforce CPQ is.

What is CPQ?

Many sales organizations are facing a common problem: producing accurate and professional sales quotes for prospects quickly, while eliminating errors and inefficiencies. CPQ is a growing software category that tackles this challenge head-on. While there are several available packages on the market or you could even custom built your own CPQ, Salesforce CPQ is by far the easiest to configure declaratively. That’s why I like it so much.

To start, let’s look at what the CPQ stands for: Configure Price Quote.

C is for Configure.

Every business’s offerings are different and vary in complexity. When selling a bundle you may not forget to add a specific option for a specific country, you have to keep in mind that you can’t sell product Y together with product X, oh… and this specific customer has an agreement to get 10% reduction on all products of a specific category!

Memorizing all those exceptions, rules and dependencies between product options, you almost have to be a genius to create a quote!

Salesforce CPQ (Steelbrick) can enable your sales team to configure your offerings, following your business rules and meeting your customers’ needs. It will guide your sales reps through the quote creation process and all it takes is some time to configure those products correctly!

P is for Price

Few businesses sell their products at full list price to all customers in all situations. Perhaps you offer special pricing, bundled pricing or volume pricing. And maybe your sales reps like to apply extra discounts to “sweeten the deal”. Keeping track of current pricing, discount rules and bundled pricing can give you a headache. You might want to implement some advanced approval flow to keep discounting in check because it can be disastrous to the bottom line when discounts are applied incorrectly or inconsistently. And it can be embarrassing when you misquote prices to a customer, it can even cause you to lose the deal!

I help customers manage pricing and discounts for all their products and services by implementing Salesforce CPQ. It enables your sales team to generate quotes with consistent pricing, including available discounts, quickly and accurately. Advanced pricing rules can be set to handle volume discounts, percent-of-total subscriptions, pre-negotiated contract pricing and channel or partner pricing. Using Salesforce CPQ you can be sure that your pricing is accurate and optimized. And if exceptions should be made, you can enable advanced approval flows to make sure you can close that deal anyway giving an exceptional discount.

The feeling I get when a customer comes to me with that kind of complexity and I’m able to solve it with a couple of clicks in Salesforce CPQ is just overwhelming. It makes me feel like I’m an #AwesomeAdmin!

Q is for Quote

You can’t close a deal until you present a quote or proposal. Sales reps spend a lot of time and effort to earn the opportunity to present a quote to a customer, so they need to create the quote correctly and quickly. And it needs to represent the business in a carefully crafted, professional manner. Once again, Salesforce CPQ provides the solution.

With just a few clicks, a sales rep can create a quote, send it in an e-mail, and even include an e-signature to close the deal. Salesforce CPQ automatically pulls in the configured products and pricing, tying the whole process together and ensuring consistency.

To create such a dynamic quote template the package offers me an out-of-the-box WYSIWYG editor, making my life as an implementation consultant and admin very easy. I just have to type some text, select it to change colours or make it bold, add a few images and add in some specific tags and voilà, sales reps have a new quote template including product names, prices, discounts, terms & conditions at a click of a button. I can assure you, it’s things like these that make your life another smidge easier.

Steelbrick CPQ becomes Salesforce CPQ

Steelbrick CPQ built natively on the Force.com platform and sold on the AppExchange for the first time in 2010, was acquired by Salesforce earlier this year. Further development and optimisation of the already rock-solid CPQ software is now backed by the power of the Salesforce development team and is becoming an essential part of their Sales Cloud offerings.

If you worked with Salesforce for a couple of years like I have, you just know you can trust the stability of the platform and the whole team behind it! They’re always looking to improve its features based on the needs of their customers and partners.

From CPQ (Configure Price Quote) to full-fledged QTC (Quote-to-Cash) solution

Former Steelbrick acquired InvoiceIT in September 2015 starting to become a full Quote-to-Cash solution and this was one of the reasons why Salesforce acquired Steelbrick. It just fits perfectly within their Quote-to-Cash strategy and further development and integration within the Salesforce platform is ongoing.

Now I even have more features in my toolbox to help customers because I can help them all the way through their contracting, billing and collections processes.

What is Quote-to-Cash and how can it help your business?

Quote-to-Cash (or QTC) is the integration and automated management of end-to-end business processes on the sales side containing the following processes: Product (or Service) Configuration, Pricing, Quote creation, Contract lifecycle and order management, Invoicing, Dunning and Payment reception.

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So with the acquisition of Steelbrick, Salesforce now provides customers a whole solution with Salesforce Billing which complements the Salesforce CPQ module. With the introduction of Salesforce Billing, implementation specialists like me and my colleagues at 4C can offer many extra benefits for your company like:

  • Manage billing of subscriptions:Companies that sell subscription-based services know that it can require a high level of administration to keep billing and invoicing processes efficient and well managed. Thankfully, cloud-based invoicing software easily supports services that are billed on a recurring basis, as well as free trials, discounts, refunds, renewals and one-off transactions and the high volume of contract amendments that come with this complexity.

  • Support of usage-based billing: As more and more companies roll out IoT (Internet of Things) initiatives or sell usage-based services like video-on-demand, webhosting or telecom services, there is the need for a way to monetize these services. Typically, monetization includes adding the ability to bill for these services through a combination of usage- and subscription-based billing. With Salesforce Billing, your company can handle complex usage- and subscription-based monetization needs out of the box.

  • Reduce your administration: Effectively managing cash flow means automating and standardizing your invoicing process, and effectively reducing administration overhead. Fast, efficient invoicing vastly reduces the margin for error compared to manually processing invoices from scratch, certainly when generating thousands of invoices a month. It also creates time savings for your staff, and that time can be reinvested into more profitable areas of the business.

  • Minimize invoicing errors: An efficient invoicing system will automatically compile costs and quotes, and then generate invoices from this data. This greatly reduces the number of people required to produce quotes, thereby reducing the chance for human error. This in turn saves your business time, which saves your business money.

  • Integrate systems: By connecting a set of complex systems, individual processes and administration can be greatly reduced. From the initial quote all the way through collecting payment, businesses can save time by connecting all the systems and software they use, including CRM, CPQ, ERP and Accounting systems.

  • Create transparency for customer service departments: When a client or customer has a query about the billing process, it is important to have information easily accessible so you can provide answers quickly. One of the key benefits of cloud-based invoicing is the clear and easy to understand audit trail, including every action, from lead generation all the way to payment collection. An efficient invoicing system makes finding information quick and painless, so customer questions and queries can be addressed immediately, without having to consult other applications. Not only does this save time, it also makes customer care simpler and this can even lead to improved team morale.

  • Simplify reporting: By using one integrated solution, it is straightforward and simple to create useful, all-encompassing reports. Custom dashboards can be turned into convenient reports, allowing your business to quickly identify your most profitable clients and customers, as well as reporting on buying patterns, and projecting cash-flows. Automated reports can be created and scheduled, further removing manual administrative tasks from your processes, improving business profitability.

These are just some of the many ways that efficient billing and invoicing software can greatly improve the efficiency of your business, which can in turn create substantial savings in administrative costs, as well as improving cash flow.

As the Salesforce Platinum Partner in the Benelux, 4C strongly believes that Salesforce CPQ and Billing solutions can help your business in many ways and that they will become an essential part in supporting your end-to-end processes. Therefore 4C continuously invests in gaining expertise on these Quote-to-Cash subject matters by having several Salesforce consultants, like me, trained and certified expanding 4C’s expert services.

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