Of all the many questions we hear from SaaS businesses about the configure, price, quote (CPQ) process, one of the most common is: When is the right time for a CPQ? 

Of course, every business is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but we’ve been able to identify nine key triggers in terms of process, systems, timing, and organizational development that indicate whether it’s the right time for your organization to consider implementing a CPQ. 

Review our checklist to see if the right time to get a CPQ is … now. 

You’re seeing breakdowns in your quoting process

Let’s start with the obvious: if it’s taking too long to get quotes out, you’re finding sales quote errors, or sellers are going rogue creating their own discounts, these are clear indications that it’s time to consider a modern CPQ solution. 

Qualitatively, looking at metrics like time to create a quote and time to revenue will help you identify issues in your current process. 

Check out Signs You Need a Modern CPQ Solution to help recognize the top 4 signs that you’re ready for a modern CPQ.

Other functions are feeling the pain 

The primary user of a CPQ is the sales org. However, the CPQ process impacts the entire organization more broadly, even though it isn’t always viewed through that lens. If other teams are having issues with the current process — like finance being unable to recognize revenue on a "creative" sale — then this means your CPQ process is having damaging ripple effects that need to be reined in. 

You’re leaving money on the table

This might seem like a no-brainer as well. But if you’re missing out on revenue opportunities, that’s something a CPQ can help fix — whether that’s standardizing quotes so you’re not losing money on discounts or helping you to identify and capitalize on cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

You need better financial data

Every sales org should have consistent and easy access to recurring revenue metrics. Without this data, your team will be challenged to accurately forecast and plan ahead (amongst many other challenges…). If you’re lacking access to essential SaaS metrics like MRR and ARR, it’s time for a CPQ to serve as a source system, adding uniformity across all the data that your business generates (but make sure it’s a CPQ that can natively calculate these metrics). 

Your company has ~6 sellers

If your company has around half a dozen sellers, you'll likely be hitting many of the issues we've outlined already, and getting a CPQ should be a priority. A lot of businesses may think that they can’t afford a CPQ when the company is still relatively small, but just think about payroll: Even a company of 10 will have a payroll system to run payroll rather than winging it — why should quoting be any different? Think about your CPQ as an essential foundational system, one that should be put in place early to provide guardrails that align the seller with the company offerings and processes. 

☐ You’ve recently hired a deal desk person — or are getting ready to

Think of your deal desk as your CPQ product manager. They will serve as liaison between operations, sales, and product, and then codify that into a technical implementation and solution. 

Ideally, you’ll have a deal desk person prior to implementing CPQ because they have the best context for all the parts of the business that need to be standardized and operationalized.

☐ You’re trying to scale your company — without more headcount

One of the risks of not having a CPQ is wasted manual hours. If you have a deal desk of two people helping sales build quotes and then reviewing those quotes manually, that takes time. As the company grows, if you don’t add a CPQ system, you’ll need to add more resources. And you’ll hit a tipping point sooner rather than later where this won’t scale. 

☐ You’re chasing down another funding round — or on the path to IPO

A CPQ creates guardrails that provide the control and governance your company needs, especially when you’re trying to become public or seeking that next funding round and an audit is inevitable. If you have aspirations of becoming public, one of the least fun jobs that you will face is working with auditors as they dig into your existing quote processes. Seeing quote artifacts that raise questions will just open up the floodgates to the additional samples that auditors will want to take.  

☐ You have time to enable teams and end users

Okay, this may be a hard one and is kind of a catch-22. Who ever has time to enable teams? And if you’re buried with manual quoting and creating workarounds for broken processes and systems, you certainly aren’t going to feel like you have time to spare to take on a project like CPQ implementation

Add to this that many of us are generally afraid of change. And CPQs have an unfair reputation for being heavy to implement (a reputation that’s largely based on legacy solutions in market as opposed to modern solutions). 

But I’m going to be candid: If you’re going to implement a CPQ without a change management plan and enough time set aside to enable your team and end users, you’re going to struggle. 

Ready for a CPQ? 

If your responses to this checklist clearly indicate that you’re ready for a CPQ and you decide to wait … what’s the risk? Besides feeling the ongoing impact from all the pain points we just reviewed, you’ll also make things harder for yourself in the long run. The bigger your org gets — with a growing product catalog and customer base — the harder it’s going to be to standardize your quoting process. 

With more customers to export and more data to migrate, you’re setting yourself up for the kind of implementation that can take years — and leaves your execs wondering where the value is. 

Whether it’s the right time or not to implement a CPQ, I advise you to always bear in mind the short- and long-term view: What do you need now to solve the problems you’re having with your quoting process, but also, what are you going to need two or three years down the line?

If the right CPQ is picked at the right time, it will be an enabler, allowing you to be more agile and supporting increasing revenue growth now and into the future. 

Ready to get moving on your CPQ journey? Download our comprehensive Definitive CPQ Buyer’s Guide for SaaS.