Unfortunately, we see it a lot in our line of business. A potential customer gives us a call—all in a huff, panicking almost, frustrated that a sales software implementation by another service provider is going horribly wrong. Deadlines have come and gone. Budgets have been thrown out the window. And the organization is no closer to rolling out the software to the sales team. Can we help?
Listen, Configure Price Quote (CPQ) implementations are not easy. The software is complex with a lot of features that have to fit into existing workflows. Integrating with salesforce.com or some other CRM, ERP or billing solutions are tricky to say the least. Implementers need extensive experience to compile the necessary expertise and best practices to do this effectively and quickly. Otherwise, things can easily get out of control.
Here are five things to consider when trying to find a service provider that can implement CPQ software quickly and efficiently:
1. In-House Resources:
Not all service providers are created equal, and many are generalists, software experts who take on any and all software implementation projects regardless of industry or solution expertise. Make sure your service provider has CPQ experience. As I said above, sales software is complex and has to be carefully integrated in existing workflows and with legacy solutions. The implementation can’t be disruptive or take a long time due to your provider figuring things out on the fly. You also need to watch out for service providers that out-source their sales software expertise. You want to have a team in place that has worked together, knows your processes and can adapt to changing conditions quickly and efficiently.
2. Focus on Value, Not Cost:
I’m not going to lie. CPQ implementations can be expensive for all the reasons listed above. But they can also generate a ton of value for your sales organization and the overall business. Streamlining the sales process, ensuring quotes are accurate and shepherding sales through the funnel quickly can bring your organization to the next level. They are that critical. Make sure your software implementer can communicate and deliver this value from the very beginning of the project.
3. Open to Changes:
Any implementation project should be flexible, but this is especially critical for CPQ projects due to the complex nature of the software. It touches so many other systems, flows throughout the organization and has a major impact on revenue that it’s nearly impossible to anticipate and understand everything that may come up. Make sure your service provider has the experience and expertise that they’ll need when hiccups and bottlenecks arise or else you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels, stalled, blowing through budget.
4. Engage with All Stakeholders:
The vast impact that CPQ can have across your organization means that it’s important to engage with all stakeholders. Make sure your service provider meets with sales reps, managers, billing, sales operations, product teams—everyone and anyone who may have a role in moving deals through the sales process. Truly understand what they need in a CPQ solution, what they currently do and how automation and digital transformation can help them execute their step in the process.
5. Forget Small Pilots:
Service providers love to roll out software to small groups to generate feedback and iron out bottlenecks. Keeping it to a small group is safe, ensuring that any problems can be fixed with little disruption to the organization. The problem with engaging with a small group is that feedback is limited. You can’t possibly understand the full impact of the implementation from three or four people. Instead, make sure your service provider conducts pilots across the entire user base. Get people using it. Collect their feedback. And make changes in real time to improve and optimize the process. This eliminates bigger issues down the road that couldn’t possibly be caught by small pilot programs. This also helps with adoption rates. Given the opportunity to be involved in the process earlier gives users a sense of ownership over the changes and provides buy-in.
Implementing CPQ solutions are hard, but don’t get stuck with service providers who blow up timelines and budgets due to a lack of expertise and thoughtful planning. Find someone who has the expertise and best practices in place that can roll out your CPQ solution quickly, efficiently and with little disruption.
By Hari Kempula