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A dropdown menu has products of interest within the CPQ solution. A configurator adds products from the dropdown, and a buttons generates the quote.

What Is CPQ, or Configure, Price, Quote?

CPQ defined

CPQ is a sales tool for companies to quickly and accurately generate quotes for orders. CPQ applications often work in tandem with CRM platforms, ERP programs, and other business technology, which helps ensure integrated data and accuracy. Quotes produced with CPQ software are automated according to a preprogrammed set of rules, ensuring error-free pricing that takes into account quantities, discounts, customisations, optional features of products, multiple revenue types, and incompatibilities.

Sales reps spend just 34% of their time actually selling, and research shows that part of a sales team’s non-selling time is spent generating quotes, proposals, and gaining approvals. When CPQ is deployed and used correctly, users have reported:

  • 10 times faster quote generation
  • 95% reduction in approval time
  • Two times faster moving from quote to cashopens in a new window
  • 30% quicker ramp for new reps

With its functionality and potential for excellent return on investment (ROI), CPQ software is on the horizon for many companies. CPQ adoption will continue to grow as companies see the real benefits of using it in conjunction with their CRM and ERP systems.

CPQ software eliminates a number of sales hurdles

Even when you see the benefits of CPQ solutions, you may think your current process still fits the bill. But even if your current sales quote generation seems to be enough, be on the lookout for these six signs that you need CPQopens in a new window:

  • You’re using legacy quote configurators.
  • Revenue growth is outpacing your ability to operate.
  • You’re building a recurring revenue stream.
  • You need practical ways to implement more advanced business solutions, such as software with artificial intelligence built in.
  • You’re sending inaccurate sales quotes to prospects.
  • Someone manually reviews all your sales quotes.

Most companies that don’t use CPQ software have a sales processopens in a new window that’s slowed by the time it takes sales to deliver accurate quotes. However, these organisations rightfully don’t want to speed up the process if it means giving incorrect prices or unapproved discounts, or promising customers configurations that are unavailable. Thanks to a slew of variables that can change rapidly, the sales quote review process can become a bottleneck to closing sales. This means many companies struggle to get quotes to customers in a timely manner.

Pricing can be a major pain point for sales teams. For example, in an effort to make the sale, a salesperson may offer too large of a discount to a customer, and that reduced price ends up costing the company more than it was worth. It could also make future negotiations with the customer difficult as the salesperson tries to secure a fair price for both the customer and the company.

A Guide to CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote)

Learn why traditional quoting methods no longer cut it & how to select the best CPQ tools for your business.

CPQ benefits: What is the main advantage?

One barrier to delivering timely quotes occurs when sales reps want to offer the customer options, configurations, or prices but have to go digging through spreadsheets to find the right pricing rules to create the quote. CPQ avoids this conflict — with the customer and within the organisation — by clearly establishing preprogrammed rules. With a CPQ application, every conceivable configuration, price, discount, and scenario can be specified, making the product configurations and options straightforward based on company capability. Then, when the rep builds the quote, CPQ walks them through the process to create a complete, accurate quote using a customised template, all within minutes. It’s automatically routed to the correct parties for approval, shortening the wait time even more.

Giving reps the power to build a price quoteopens in a new window that they know is preapproved and won’t be delayed waiting for reviews empowers them to drive their own deals.

CPQ software allows sales to deliver quotes quickly thanks to a streamlined quoting process — the result of the customised rules and pricing CPQ automation allows. This is true for companies with one-off sales, subscription pricing, recurring billing, and other revenue models.

With CPQ software, companies can reap the benefits of a standardised process:

  • Consistent pricing and discounting control
  • Multi-currency support
  • Contract pricing, subscription pricing (also known as recurring billing or usage-based pricing), and channel and partner pricing
  • Advanced discounting and approval workflows

CPQ software also manages the tasks associated with repeat orders and subscriptions, automatically generating renewal quotes and applying existing contracted terms and conditions to add-ons.

Taking into account complex options and configurations, bulk pricing and discount rules, CPQ’s automation allows for personalised quotes that were once complex to build and deliver quickly to the customer. A fast sales quote process makes your company more efficient and knowledgeable and allows the deal to coast through the sales pipeline. This helps customers view your company as a partner that’s interested in helping them succeed.

CPQ helps departments collaborate and make sales quotes accurate

While this solution certainly helps salespeople create accurate quotes quickly, CPQ’s effects on efficiency are more far-reaching. One of the biggest advantages of CPQ software is that the entire company can be involved. CPQ deployments, done right, allow sales, renewals, finance, and legal to each seamlessly have a hand in the different configurations. That means you won’t have salespeople selling configurations that aren’t possible financially or legally.

With CPQ, you can also create sensible configurations and bundles. Instead of salespeople determining configurations independently, you can have the product's subject matter expert (SME) determine the best options and configurations for your customers. These are entered into the CPQ system as rules so salespeople can offer the best possible options for your customers. When cross-functional teams work together, everyone wins. Your product becomes more solution-oriented and customer-centric than ever before.

The sales department may be the primary user, but CPQ software isn’t just for them to use. You can also optimise CPQ applications to benefit the entire organisation. In successful deployments, your teams can use CPQ sales analytics to find demand and product trends.

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Integrate CPQ with other business tech to standardise processes

Often sales, finance, legal, manufacturing, and development are very separate entities and are siloed within an organisation. CPQ software has proven to be a link between departments, allowing communication and standards to be firmly set in place.

A signed quote is the start of a series of events that brings the entire company into play. In fact, “every detail required by downstream teams resides within the quote.” That’s a tall order, which is why a CPQ solution needs to be used. It reduces errors and makes sure the subsequent steps can take place. Once a quote has been signed by the customer:

  1. An order is generated.
  2. An invoice is sent.
  3. Payment is received.
  4. Revenue is recognised.
  5. Audit trails are analysed.
  6. Orders are fulfilled.

The accuracy of your quote affects every department. CPQ software integrates with your existing business technology to make the entire process smoother.

Your CPQ program can be integrated with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and when such integrations are established, entire processes are streamlined. CPQ and ERP integration offers a connection between sales and operations and becomes a major benefit of adopting a CPQ solution. Sales can monitor the status of deliveries, executives can monitor the sales process, and operations can monitor trends to plan for new deals. Sales can work with product design. Better, data-driven decisions can be made to meet customer needs. Combining CPQ with ERP leads to a reduction in operating costs, and on-time production is greater because operations and materials and manufacturing departments are in the loop.

Build Your Business with The Power of CPQ eBook

Our e-book will help you determine if your quoting process is set to scale and how CPQ (configure, price, quote) automation speeds up critical sales and renewal efforts.

CPQ increases sales staff efficiency, leaving them more time for customers

According to Salesforce Research’s “State of Sales” reportopens in a new window, only 34% of a salesperson’s time is actually spent selling: meeting customers in person, connecting with customers virtually, and prospecting. This number leads to three important concepts:

  • The more your processes can be streamlined, the more time salespeople have to meet with customers and make sales.
  • Any time that can be freed up for sales to talk with customers is a plus.
  • Your salespeople need to be able to make effective, informed sales calls.

Making great calls is possible through CRM applications that allow in-depth research and note-taking capabilities for users. Furthermore, when you have access to sales enablement documents and information, you can help lead the customer through their sales journey while showcasing your company as a thought leader and trusted advisor in the field.

When it comes time to complete the transaction and close the sale, CPQ software helps make the seamless transition from sales journey to decision. Your CPQ program lets you accurately configure products, apply pricing and quantity discounts, and have approvals already programmed into the system. This automation makes you look like a true sales professional, giving customers confidence in your processes and your company.

CPQ technology can help you increase savings and revenue

While business software applications like your CRM platform, knowledge management systemopens in a new window, and web conferencing tools have increased the possibility of more efficient sales processes, CPQ applications have widespread effects on efficiency and revenue for the company.

Using CPQ applications allows sales organisations to focus on selling and replicating best sales practicesopens in a new window rather than constantly retraining sales staff. When delivering quotes and closing sales becomes an effortless process, sales professionals see a growth in success — and with it, a growth in the company’s bottom line.

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CPQ is the tool your sales team deserves

Salesforce CPQopens in a new window is about making the complex simple.”

The benefits of CPQ software include formalising rules and pricing, establishing standardisation across the company, increasing company wide efficiency, and more. The most important benefits of CPQ software, however, are the proven increase in revenues and decrease in costs.

Successful CPQ deployment depends on providing careful training and support to your sales staff and implementing CPQ in tandem with other departments. When done right, investing in CPQ software helps your company lead the way to a more effective — and, importantly, profitable — sales processopens in a new window.

Learn 3 ways to sell faster with Salesforce CPQ

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