The CPQ industry has totally stagnated over the last decade

As companies grow beyond $10M in revenue and start expanding outside of their initial customer base, they start thinking about getting a CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) system that can create sophisticated quotes and streamline the sales-closing process.

They often delay this decision. Not because they don’t want a CPQ, but because deploying one is really intimidating and expensive today:

  1. High cost of ownership: First, you pay for expensive software, then spend months to years implementing it, hoping it does its job. 
  2. Hard to connect to billing: You’ll have to build custom integrations into your billing system.
  3. Duplication reduces pricing agility: You’ll have to manage your product catalog in multiple places (CPQ, billing, revrec, etc).
  4. Hard to use: You’ll have to train your team(s) to use it. CPQs are not intuitive.
  5. Long time to go-live: It takes anywhere between 6-24 months (or more) for a legacy CPQ to be installed, configured, customized, tested, sales reps trained on, etc.

The last time the CPQ space saw some innovation was in 2009, when SteelBrick arrived on the scene, which was subsequently acquired and renamed to "Salesforce CPQ." This was the era when Obama first became President, and H1N1 was declared a pandemic. Any wonder why everything in the CPQ space looks and feels decades old?

Why companies are forced into buying Salesforce CPQ today?

We come across companies struggling with a Salesforce CPQ implementation almost on a weekly basis. This includes companies large and small: from $10M ARR to businesses generating billions of dollars in revenue. 

Given all the struggles with owning and using Salesforce CPQ, you’d wonder why companies would even consider buying it in the first place.

Let’s dig into the reasons:

  1. Stagnant space lacked a viable alternative: Since the CPQ industry has totally stagnated over the last decade, the complete absence of innovation has resulted in Salesforce CPQ becoming the accepted (but painful) solution. Companies struggle to find a viable alternative. As far as we can tell, other legacy CPQs from Apttus, Oracle, or SAP aren’t any better.
  2. Aggressive bundling: Salesforce is known to aggressively bundle its offerings, so the CPQ product is included at a low cost. This is a smart acquisition strategy for Salesforce, but it's not that great for their customers. It’s like someone offering you an elephant 🐘 for free — it sounds like a good idea until you realize that elephants eat 350 pounds of food everyday, and you’re now on the hook to pay for it.
  3. The false notion of "it comes from Salesforce, it must be ok": This idea propagates a false sense of confidence. The reasoning is that since you already have Salesforce as a CRM, getting a CPQ from Salesforce must be the best thing. The reality is anything but that. Other than sharing a common corporate owner since SteelBrick was acquired, Salesforce CPQ has no structural advantage over other CPQs, which can connect seamlessly to the Salesforce CRM over APIs and perform bidirectional sync. In fact, building a CPQ on Salesforce UI is a serious limitation — you’re forever stuck with their high latency and poor user experience.
  4. Given up hope: Given the lack of innovation and decent alternatives, companies have given up on the space and expect new CPQs to be no better than Salesforce CPQ.
  5. The false notion of "all sales tools should live on Salesforce": Having a single login for sales reps to access all their tools sounds like a good idea. Until you realize that any number of forecasting, sales compensation, pipeline generation, and CLM tools are built outside of Salesforce and work quite well despite that.

It’s when companies try to implement and go live with Salesforce CPQ that they realize how difficult it is to make it work. Over time, sunk cost fallacy kicks in, and having invested so much money in time and implementation, companies are motivated to somehow finish the “last 20%” that seems to take forever to get done.

So this is the challenge and the hard reality so far. 

So should you still buy Salesforce CPQ? Our answer is NO. Picking Salesforce CPQ feels like a safe choice until you talk to other companies that used the same reasoning and are struggling today.

Why companies are moving to Subskribe CPQ 

Subskribe is ushering in an era of innovation and fresh thinking into the space that has been neglected for far too long. Customers love us.

Here’s our thesis on the CPQ space:

  1. Sales deserves the best. Sales reps do one of the most challenging and unpredictable jobs in a company — sell to new and existing customers and generate revenue. They really deserve the best, most advanced, and easiest-to-use software that can be possibly built. We provide this.
  2. Make the life of sales operations easy. Sales ops teams shouldn't need a PhD degree in CPQ to get a modern CPQ up and running, or to maintain it once it's live. We get you live in weeks, not years.
  3. Advanced deals should be natively supported. Whether you’re talking about ramp deals or complex discounts or mid-term amendments to complex deals, you shouldn’t have to implement crazy workarounds to make them work. We don’t want customers writing custom code to make this happen. This is our job, and we’ll do it for you — right out of the box.
  4. Billing shouldn't come in the way of generating revenue. Your finance team should be able to bill what you quote. Unfortunately, the lack of support for modern deals in existing billing systems forces companies to not offer deals that could be a win-win for you and your customers, simply because the billing and revenue systems can’t handle it. This is a shame. We handle this effortlessly with our unified CPQ, billing, and revenue platform. 
  5. Leverage AI for the win. An incredible wealth of customer and sales data resides in your CPQ system, lying sad and ignored. Properly leveraged, that data can help you enable your customers more effectively, offer help and expertise when it's most needed, and help maximize both your revenue as well as that of your customers. We will provide the most cutting-edge, smart analytics and AI to help your business win.

At the end of the day, Subskribe is designed and optimized for fast-growing companies, so it just works. Most importantly, you can’t afford to run re-implementations of legacy CPQs every 2-3 years. At Subskribe, we do the hard work, so things are easy for you.

To learn more about our modern CPQ and see a demo, contact us.