So you’ve heard about all the greatness that CPQ software can deliver to your team – making each salesperson more efficient, faster and better prepared to do his or her job. But are all CPQ solutions equally adept at delivering these benefits?
Not by a long shot. As the sales manager, you’d be well-served to be picky about your CPQ. Best to do your research rather than simply settling for the first new CPQ software that comes highly recommended or that flies across your desk.
Tips for Choosing the Right CPQ Software
Here are 15 considerations not to be overlooked when choosing the right CPQ solution.
1. Does it Make Sense Financially?
This question seems straightforward: Are you choosing affordable CPQ software? Some solutions offer monthly terms and some a flat fee you pay right out of the gate. Are you paying for frill features or bloatware that you won’t need or use? Decide which one fits your organization and your long-term goals, and choose accordingly.
2. No Surprise Costs
While we’re on the subject of pricing models, do a little digging into the CPQ solutions you’re comparing and try to pinpoint any fees that may come up along the way, such as when you start to scale. You don’t want to get tricked into a low-cost solution today only to pay through the nose later.
3. Easy Communication with Your Team
The entire point of CPQ software is to make complex pricing quicker, easier, more intelligent and more trackable. With a good CPQ solution, that includes guided selling to make the process simpler and more efficiently collaborative for all involved. If a prospective CPQ doesn’t make for easy communication to assist your team in the field, then right there you know to keep looking.
4. Simple to Use
Look for an easy CPQ software platform. That means it doesn’t take a lot of brain power to navigate. It also means that producing elements like quotes, contracts, and other sales materials are a breeze.
If you make the wrong choice, you’ll soon know it, as adoption will lag. You want 100% adoption across the team, and that calls for an agile CPQ software platform that is a no-brainer to use in the field.
5. Improves and Doesn’t Hinder the Sales Process
Studies show that the best CPQ software can make for quicker sales, better paydays, and improved renewals; but only if your sales team knows how to use it properly.
Along with the required training, the solution you decide upon should provide each member of your team with the assistance he or she needs to excel in the field.
If the CPQ encumbers the team – preventing reps from making use of their talents or slowing them down with extensive clerical work – rather than bolsters it, that is a major sign that you have chosen poorly.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Include your team members in the demos and tutorials offered by CPQ vendors and take their insights to heart.
6. Largely Automates the Sales Process
Easy and quick; you will hear those terms repeated a lot when discussing the best CPQ software for your team. If, post CPQ implementation, your salespeople still need to work too hard to produce quotes, solutions that solve the customer’s needs, and discounts that best suit the customer, then that is not an agile solution.
Your team should be able to produce the sales elements they need instantly and intuitively. That kind of utility from CPQ software will build trust with customers, leading to long-term loyalty renewals.
7. Suits Your Needs
Don’t choose a CPQ solution that offers a gang of bells and whistles that your team doesn’t need. Make a list of all the capabilities your team requires and think about what may be missing to help your team improve. Then decide on the top CPQ software which will benefit your team the most.
8. Completely Customizable
Your solution may come with components and capabilities right out of the box, but can you customize the CPQ to fit your team perfectly? This is something you need to think about, especially as you scale.
The last thing you want is to be forced from one CPQ solution to another, squandering all the time and effort your team put into familiarizing itself with the UI.
9. Scales Along with Your Organization
Speaking of scaling, you should ensure that the solution you decide upon can scale easily as your organization grows. The same reason applies: You don’t want to have to change to a newer and better CPQ solution if your organization begins to outgrow the last one.
10. The Biggest Isn’t Always Best
Comparing and contrasting various solutions with all the points above can be a tedious process. As a busy sales manager, you may be tempted to throw caution to the wind by choosing the most popular CPQ solution for your needs.
Unfortunately, popularity is a terrible heuristic to rely on. The most popular doesn’t always mean the best or the most suitable. Do your homework so that you aren’t forced to rethink your decision somewhere down the road.
11. Couples Seamlessly with Other Software
The ideal CPQ software will marry perfectly with other software you may use, such as CRM. That’s important because it would be unnecessarily laborious and time-consuming to have your team use multiple pieces of software that have nothing to do with one another.
Such an arrangement would surely result in confusion, information disparities, and low adoption rates.
12. Analytics Included
The CPQ solution you decide on should provide regular data reports that allow you, as well as every member of your team, to see what’s working and what’s not. This type of data helps with guided selling and it makes salespeople better. For many of our clients, analytics are their favorite perks of CPQ software. So make sure regular reports are included.
13. Help is Available
When you run into trouble, is there a support number you can call? An email address you can shoot a message to? Or better yet, will you be assigned a dedicated account representative?
It does little good to choose a CPQ software solution that is unsupported. You should always be able to ask for help when you need it.
14. Constantly Updated
In addition to having access to a support system, you will want to know that your CPQ solution is being regularly updated. Even the best technology becomes outdated in just a few months. The best CPQ software today may become outdated and useless tomorrow.
15. A Community Working Together
Do you have access to a forum or message board where you can draw on the experiences, questions, answers and general perceptions of teams from across the country – or perhaps from around the world?
Such common-platform insight pooling helps your team improve their fluency in the software. You may unlock features you wouldn’t otherwise know about, and your team will get the most out of each updated thread.
CPQ software comes in all different shapes and sizes, and you have a lot to consider when it comes to improving your sales team. Use the above points as a guide, choose wisely and watch your team become world-class before your eyes.
Original publication date February 8, 2018. Updated July 30, 2018.