As a silver Salesforce partner, our greatest moments are when our customers begin to see the range of capability of the platform and exclaim to us, “I didn’t know that Salesforce could do that!”. Several of my recent conversations with customers about the Configure-Price-Quote capabilities of Salesforce have produced that remark.
Most customers immediately recognize the first level productivity and consistency values of moving to CPQ. They see the value of ease of use in assembling proposals, bundling, discount management through approvals, revision control, etc. However, what is often overlooked are the broader follow-on values that accrue by use of the associated objects and functions:
- Products and Pricebooks
- Partner Communities
Additional Value of use of Products and Pricebooks
To enable CPQ functionality, you will load your entire product, sub-assembly, and service offerings into the Products and Pricebooks objects, where it is used to assemble proposals for Sales and Service teams. It can also be utilized for…
- Encouraging and guiding cross sell and up sell at proposal stage for both Sales and Service teams
- Capturing cost information alongside of proposal pricing to forecast Gross Margin at the proposal stage
- Projecting product mix and service staff utilization at the proposal stage for more effective factory, supply chain, and personnel management
- Recognizing the impact of marketing and promotions by virtue of measuring flow and mix of proposals
We’ve also observed that many customers haven’t yet rationalized their services to see them as products. Once you’ve taken the step of seeing items such as warranties, preventative maintenance, and diagnostics as productized services, these items can be assembled into a proposal alongside of hard goods.
Tip: Use extended warranties as a low cost, high profit item to bundle with your products in competitive bids to add more value to your quoted package.
Additional Value of Use of Assets
Once all your products reside in Salesforce to support CPQ, you also have an easy path to capturing which customers have purchased which products via the Assets Object. Most companies already have this info in their ERP, but having this information in your CRM opens opportunities for your Sales, Service, and Marketing teams to capture follow on sales from a variety of approaches including automated workflows to alert sales teams to when consumables are likely to run out, wear parts are likely to fail, and services or subscriptions are due to renew. Imagine your sales teams arriving each day to their desks with a list of customers who are about to need extra stuff from you! In addition, armed with this information, marketing teams can create segmented campaigns to alert customers to a variety of items – such as feature changes, upgrades, and affiliated products – thus educating and preparing the customer for the next call by the sales team.
Additional Value of Use of Partner Communities
All of our customers that sell through channel partners share a similar vision of improving mind share, effectiveness, and visibility of customer activity with their channel partners. As has been the trend in recent years for customers to prefer self-service in many areas, this is also now true for channel partners. Salesforce Partner Communities supports this in many ways including allowing partners to generate their own proposals for your products and services via the same CPQ functionality used by your direct sales teams.
Providing this service to your partners helps to surface unseen quoting activity for new product and aftermarket parts that you know is there, but rarely see until the order is placed. Seeing the activity of your partners earlier in the selling cycle produces many of the same benefits mentioned above. And, providing them with guidance on up sell and cross sell to improve their average deal size and win rates creates improved stickiness and mind share.
In the Salesforce platform, there’s a variety of ways that CPQ can be delivered, ranging from using the native objects already available within the platform for lighter use cases, to several third-party applications on the AppExchange, to the Salesforce CPQ application (aka Quote-to-Cash and formerly known as SteelBrick) for more robust functionality.