For most of its existence, Salesforce has focused its solutions around improving the internal processes of selling to and servicing clients. That’s why in 2015, when Salesforce acquired leading configure-price-quote (CPQ) vendor SteelBrick for a cool $300 million, stakeholders across the CRM industry collectively held their breaths to see how things would shake out.
With the addition of CPQ – aka Salesforce Quote-to-Cash – to the Salesforce family of solutions, Salesforce appears to be extending its CRM wheelhouse to encompass more of the “final mile” aspects of closing sales.
The 300-million-dollar question, though, is: How well does Salesforce Quote-to-Cash work?
Let’s explore that further.
Salesforce Quote-to-Cash vs. Salesforce Out-of-the-Box
Prior to SteelBrick, Salesforce only offered basic CPQ capabilities. Generating quotes and proposals typically involved opening a Word document with the last proposal that was sent out and updating it with the new client information.
Any sales rep who has done this probably also knows that sinking feeling when they realize they’ve just accidentally sent out a proposal with the previous client’s name still on it – or worse, with the wrong prices or product configurations.
And because these quotes and proposals lived outside the Salesforce system, organizations typically had no easy way to report on them, making it difficult to improve and optimize things moving forward.
Salesforce Quote-to-Cash aims to eliminate these issues by automating the entire CPQ process. The new solution pulls data already in Salesforce to streamline product configuration, pricing and quote generation. Like other Salesforce functionalities, Salesforce Quote-to-Cash can even be linked to an organization’s ERP system, allowing quotes to be based on real-time inventory data.
Based on our experience so far, Salesforce Quote-to-Cash is living up to its promise. While CPQ isn’t right for every business, our clients are seeing solid results with it, and we have to say – we’re impressed.
Here are three reasons why you might want to take a closer look.
1. Implementation can be phased in based on budget, resources and need.
We’ve been pleased to see that Salesforce Quote-to-Cash isn’t all-or-nothing. Businesses can implement any combination of the configuration, pricing and quoting features, and adding other features in the future is simple.
Example: One of our clients uses an SAP pricing and configuration tool that is working well enough for them. However, they had an immediate need to improve the way sales reps customize statements of work (SOWs) while adhering to corporate legal requirements.
This meant focusing on the Q component of CPQ – and that wasn’t a problem. Our solution was to build a document repository of templatized SOWs. Reps can now easily customize certain sections of contracts, with standardized terms and conditions remaining intact.
Looking ahead, we are developing plans to further integrate this company’s SAP system with Salesforce to leverage the configure and pricing features of Salesforce Quote-to-Cash as budget and resources permit.
2. Guardrails can be set around price discounting and product configurations.
One of the biggest challenges of traditional CPQ processes is finding the right balance between flexibility and control.
Sales reps want the freedom to do whatever it takes to close a deal quickly. And yet, unless guardrails are in place to establish boundaries, businesses can face problems.
Price Discounts: Without pricing controls, reps may be tempted to discount prices to the point where the sale is no longer profitable for the company. Salesforce Quote-to-Cash allows the creation of business rules that limit how discounts are applied.
For example, automated tiers can apply set levels of discounts based on product quantities, total dollar values or percentages. Authorization levels can be established for each rep, with overrides required for discounts that exceed a certain threshold.
Price Configurations: The more product configurations available, the greater the risk that sales reps will accidentally try to sell invalid product options.
Salesforce Quote-to-Cash creates guardrails here too; after a user selects a product option, subsequent choices are automatically constrained based on the initial selection.
3. Sales reps gain helpful tools to streamline the bid process.
Salesforce Quote-to-Cash eliminates many of the manual steps that are often required to get a quote in the hands of a customer. This can have productivity implications across the organization.
Example: For another one of our clients, generating quotes was an awkward, time-consuming process that looked something like this:
- Meet with the customer to identify the products they wanted.
- Email the Sales Operations group or the Bid Desk for pricing information.
- Create a draft quote in Word, and email back and forth to input part numbers, update terms and conditions, and correct errors.
- Wait for the Sales Operations group or the Bid Desk to finalize the quote, save it to a drive, and send it to the rep so that the rep can present it to the customer.
- Obtain feedback from the customer and repeat the process until the quote is accepted and the deal can close.
Our Salesforce Quote-to-Cash solution overhauled this process. Sales reps can now pull out a laptop while meeting with a customer, make their product selection, click a button to generate an accurate, standardized quote in PDF, share the quote with the customer, and attach the quote to the Salesforce opportunity.
And because all quote information is now contained entirely within Salesforce, data can easily be reported on and analyzed for ongoing optimization.
Is Salesforce Quote-to-Cash right for your organization?
To find the answer that’s right for your organization, the best approach is to start by bringing your stakeholders together to the table – including sales, legal, finance and management teams – to discuss what’s currently working with your sales process, what’s not, and what an ideal solution would look like.
If the advantages we highlighted in this post would alleviate challenges you’re currently facing, Salesforce Quote-to-Cash may very well be a strategic piece of your puzzle.
Check out my other blog post: "Quick Tips to Get Started With Salesforce Quote-to-Cash."
Do you have questions about Salesforce Quote-to-Cash? Contact Wave6 today. We can offer insights and guidance to help you tackle your sales challenges from a different perspective.