The right CPQ solution makes the end-to-end sales process faster, more accurate, and easier to audit. However, a CPQ is only as good as its implementation strategy. It doesn’t matter how powerful and scalable your CPQ solution is if it’s not properly designed, installed, integrated, and utilized to its fullest potential. Unfortunately, most organizations jump head first into the implementation process without an effective plan in place. This lack of planning winds up defeating the purpose of the speed and efficiencies promised by a modern CPQ.

It’s important to remember that a CPQ impacts more than just the sales team—it can affect your entire organization. Planning for a successful CPQ implementation requires close coordination between product, sales, operations, finance, and legal, so it’s critical that these stakeholders are involved in the process. When cross-functional teams work together to understand how a CPQ fits into the larger ecosystem, everyone wins. Sales reps can create complex proposals, product management can implement creative pricing models, operations can streamline workflows, finance can close the books faster, and legal can ensure the right standards are in place.

Here are four steps to prepare for a successful CPQ implementation.

Step 1: Determine goals and objectives

Define goals and targets for the CPQ implementation

Focus on what problems you’re trying to solve for the business. Many organizations make the mistake of focusing only on the technical aspects of the implementation, rather than addressing the challenges facing the actual users or other departments involved in the end-to-end process. Goals may be different for each team or department involved, and it’s important to understand how success is defined for all stakeholders.

Some KPIs to consider:

  • Shortened quote turnaround time and volume
  • Improved order form accuracy
  • Improved win and renewal rates
  • Reduction in manual work for sales
  • Reduction in workload for deal desk

Coordinate stakeholders across teams and functions

As Shreenath Panditrao, Head of Business Systems at Benchling noted, “A CPQ has to be a company priority. Create a pricing council that includes a stakeholder from every department, such as sales, operations, product, finance, and legal.”

It’s important that every stakeholder knows exactly what your CPQ implementation is trying to accomplish and the steps it will take to reach those objectives. Additionally, they should have input into key design decisions to ensure the CPQ meets your business needs and requirements.

“Establishing a cross-functional forum really helps show everyone the power of CPQ,” added Panditrao. “While it can’t solve everything, it can streamline the sales process and give all stakeholders visibility into the process.”

Stack rank your goals

Prioritize your goals from “most critical,” “critical,” to “not critical” based on how important they are to your business—both now and in the future. It’s important to consider not only how your CPQ implementation will impact the organization you have today, but also how the growth of your business may change your needs and requirements. You’ll want to choose a CPQ that scales along with your business.

Step 2: Review the comprehensiveness of your product catalog

Review the current state of your product catalog

Take inventory of everything you know about your product catalog, including the number of product lines, SKUs, attributes, discounts, terms, and pricing. This information will help you understand the complexity of your product offerings and can help redefine existing rules and policies.

Ensure product modularity for easy customization

Group components that are typically sold together into modular products with set prices, margins, and discounts. This makes it easier for you to define configuration and pricing rules and deliver options according to individual customer needs or preferences.

Organize everything into a single product catalog

Lastly, if your product catalog exists in multiple places, this is a good time to consolidate all of your product information into a single, centralized source of truth database.

Step 3: Create well-defined rules and policies

Think about your existing business processes and how you can simplify them to achieve your business goals.

“Make sure you know your processes and have them documented end-to-end,” advised Aesha Shah, Senior Architect of GTM Systems at Lacework. “Even at an established company, there are scenarios where you think that’s the process, but it’s not really the process and people are doing it differently.”

Design the overall CPQ workflow

Process mapping allows you to visually map out your workflows in a clear and straightforward way so any team members can easily understand their role and responsibilities for completing a task.

  1. Identify the people involved in the end-to-end sales process.
  2. List all of the activities or tasks required by each person to complete the process.
  3. Include the systems and applications (e.g., CRM, ERP, CLM) used by each person to complete the process.

Arrange information in chronological order

Once you’ve collected all of this information, arrange them in the proper order until the process is documented end-to-end.

“Rather than designing the tool around the processes based on the limitations of the tool, make a list as to which tool meets all of the requirements for all of the different processes,” Shah added. “You don’t want to be in a situation where you are limiting your processes because the tool cannot do something. The tool is not the end goal. Selling is the end goal. And the tool should enable you to sell.”

Share and analyze process map with stakeholders

Make sure to loop in all stakeholders so you can accurately account for all of the steps in the process, identify any inefficiencies, and propose improvements.

Creating standardized, repeatable processes makes it easy for the sales team to configure the right products and quote the right prices. It will also make the onboarding and maintenance of products faster and more cost-efficient.

Step 4: Analyze your data and integration points

A modern CPQ sources data from your ERP, CRM, and other critical business technologies so that your sales reps have the most relevant and accurate data for the CPQ process.

  1. Find out what data is needed for the CPQ process and where it should be sourced from. For example, customer and opportunity data can be sourced from your CRM.
  2. Clean up data by checking for quality, reliability, and accuracy. CPQ data changes constantly, and it’s critical that data is updated in real time to avoid costly mistakes that impact the sales experience.\
  3. Have a plan for data management by identifying and assigning owners to maintain control of data, and keep it relevant and error-free.

Make sure that your CPQ implementation integrates with your existing CRM and ERP software and supports your configuration and pricing rules.

Also, once you migrate your data, identify the data migration reference point. Having a well defined source of truth is important to ensure that data is correct.

This blog post is an excerpt from our eBook "The Definitive CPQ Buyer's Guide for SaaS." To read more, download the full guide here.