Your burning questions about Quote-to-Cash answered

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Joost Van Elsuwé

Joost Van Elsuwé

Quote-to-Cash is a hot topic. More and more companies are looking into extending their existing CRM (or are looking into a new CRM) with Salesforce’s CPQ and Billing functionalities, and for good reason. As we have discussed in previous blogposts, covering the quote-to-cash gap comes with many advantages. Advantages you will need if you want to exceed expectations in the age of the customer.

Over the past couple of months, we have been promoting the functionalities of Salesforce’s native Quote-to-cash solutions in London, Amsterdam and Brussels. In September, we’ll be doing the same in Paris. What follows are some interesting questions we have received during these events that we want to share.

Q1: What is the most challenging part of a Quote-to-Cash implementation?

Quote-to-Cash projects are different from CRM projects and offer their own series of unique challenges. They can be difficult to overcome, but we are here to help.

Quote-to-Cash encompasses a multitude of business processes that involve many different departments. During the implementation, you’ll be taking decisions that have consequences all across the board: order fulfillment, revenue recognition, inventory management, management reporting, quote templates. Each department has its role to play and interests to defend. You are not dealing with just sales anymore.

One of the most challenging tasks will be getting these different departments around the table and coming to an agreement. Identify your key stakeholders and acquire their buy-in at an early stage. This will increase your chances of obtaining the right information and enable you to make decisions faster. It will also avoid rework as everyone is included from the start.

Q2: I have heard about competitors. Is Salesforce CPQ and Billing the right choice?

There are multiple viable Quote-to-Cash solutions out there that can be used within Salesforce. It is advisable to look into those before making a purchasing decision. The two biggest competitors are Zuora and Apptus.

Zuora positions itself as the leading platform for the subscription based economy. It performs really well when it comes to managing the entire lifecycle of subscriptions, but has some considerable weaknesses when it comes to complex product and price configurations. Salesforce Q2C is the opposite: its strong suit is the centralized product catalogue configuration, but it has some room for improvement when it comes to subscription management. This is a recognized weakness, and there are already some improvements on the roadmap.

Apptus is focused on the largest of customers, that have some unique requirements that Salesforce CPQ does not cover out of the box. This decision has an impact on implementation and release management. Apptus implementations usually require a larger team and involve custom coding, while the intent of CPQ is to be point and click and manageable by in-house admins. Having too much custom coding and moving away from out of the box functionalities might prevent you from benefiting from future releases. This is never the case with CPQ.

When making a purchasing decision, consider the fact that Salesforce Quote-to-Cash is a fully native product of Salesforce. From a technical perspective, it uses its data model, inherits all security, reporting, automation features, and so on. One of the strong suits of Salesforce, its ability to customize using point-and-click tools, is also applicable to Salesforce CPQ. From a business perspective, every design and roadmap decision is taken with Salesforce in mind. Salesforce is aligning its Quote-to-Cash solution with its other packages. Einstein for Salesforce CPQ anyone? Do not underestimate the future potential of having your companies’ Quote-to-Cash process running on a platform that is aligned with the world’s leading CRM.

Q3: I have thousands of products. CPQ is not the right tool for my company. It will be impossible to manage!

It is unlikely that you actually have thousands of products. You may have thousands of SKUs. And if this is the case, Salesforce CPQ is most definitely a fit. CPQ, if configured and used correctly, has added value for almost any company, but this value can increase exponentially with additional product catalogue complexity.

The entire purpose of Salesforce CPQ is to reduce complexity for your sales reps, allowing them to quote faster and more accurately. During a CPQ project, we will be combining products into smart bundles that contain business logic that prevents mistakes and suggest upsell opportunities. We will actually be decreasing the amount of products, as SKUs might be generated dynamically depending on the outcome of a configuration process. Overall, your sales reps will be selling tailored solutions, without having to check and recheck every quote line.

There are multiple approaches to configuring the product catalogue. We like to set up our clients for success. And we’d like them to be self-sufficient in doing so. We regularly provide in-house custom training for our customers in order to ensure the product management has a basic understanding of Salesforce CPQ, allowing them to manage the product catalogue themselves.

Q4: We only have a limited amount of sales reps. Our primary sales channel is self-service. What can Salesforce CPQ and Salesforce Billing do for us?

The goal is to introduce a single, streamlined process for monitoring all sales opportunities. These opportunities can originate from the sales team, a Salesforce community, or via an interface that utilizes the API functionalities of Salesforce CPQ. This data is combined into a single pipeline without the need for several disparate systems. Salesforce is always your single source of truth, from whatever channel the sales opportunities arise.

Q5: What about licensing? Is this included in the Sales Cloud license?

Salesforce CPQ and Billing are not included in the Sales Cloud license. There is a very large difference between quoting in native Sales Cloud and quoting in Salesforce CPQ. CPQ will create an additional layer that can do so much more in terms of complex product configuration, pricing logic, contract and subscription management, and so on. It is a stand-alone (but fully native) product that can be installed on top of your existing Sales Cloud. Additional licenses must be purchased for the users that are going to be using this advanced quoting engine.

There are two different CPQ licenses: CPQ and CPQ+. An org can only contain a single license level. CPQ+ includes some additional features, such as advanced approvals, advanced order management and an API. For Billing, a CPQ+ license is required.

Full comparison of the different editions can be found on the Salesforce website.

Want us to take a look at your current Quote-to-Cash processes? Interested in learning how Salesforce Quote-to-Cash can be of help? Contact our sales department.

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