So you know you have a problem in your CPQ process, and it’s time to seek out the right product to meet your needs. As you begin your initial search or construct your RFI, keep these common needs in mind, and make sure the vendors you’re looking at can meet each requirement. (And don’t forget to download the .pdf—a handy tool to pass along to your colleagues involved in the selection process!)
Why this question is important: Because we’re living in a mobile world (as is evidenced by the fact that tablets outsold PCs last quarter) this question is almost self-explanatory. Business moves faster with mobile, and especially when it comes to quote turnarounds, product and sales configuration on-the-fly, and the ability to execute a contract, it’s critical that your location doesn’t hinder your ability to push a deal over the finish line.
Why this question is important: Low total cost of ownership and user-friendly maintainability top the list for many enterprise-level companies seeking out CPQ software. Administering a CPQ system with a complicated rule-modeling interface accomplishes neither of those goals, as you have to ensure the proper IT personnel are able to allocate a good amount of time to maintaining the database around the clock. You can say in a handful of constraints what it would take potentially hundreds of rules to say (see why that is in this post about constraints versus rules), so seeking out a system that allows you to use constraints rather than rules is key in the continual march for low TCO and system maintenance that just about anyone could perform.
Why this question is important: Integration concerns are key for businesses operating at an enterprise level, particularly when it comes to including software that truly does streamline processes and encourages user adoption for everyone who needs to actively utilize the software. Most CPQ vendors should be able to easily check this box, but be sure you are up front about the systems that you have running and must integrate easily with CPQ, and ask them to provide examples of how integrations panned out with existing customers.
Why this question is important: Cloud deployments have done more than just gain popularity--they’ve become an integral part of how companies choose to do business. If the name of the game is keeping business on a fast-track, cloud solutions--accessible everywhere via single sign on, and on multiple devices--are your Lamborghini. That said, CPQ vendors should also show a dedication to maintaining a high level of security within their application, and should be happy to provide documentation that shows how they keep your data safe.
Why this question is important: You don’t want to make an investment in a CPQ solution only to outgrow the software. Think about all of the dimensions in your sales process and how complexity tends to snowball: More users configuring products simultaneously, making additions to product families, adding pricing rules, creating cross-product rules, performing upgrades, making changes to quotes, selling across different channels, presenting correct, feasible options to customers--it’s the portrait of complexity. And as a business grows, so does the “snowball effect.” As you think about your company scaling and search for a solution, ask some key questions: Is performance and user experience impacted by growing complexity? What does it cost to scale the infrastructure? Will the CPQ application you’re considering grow with you, or will you need to restart and find an enterprise-class solution?
Why this question is important: The bigger and more complex our sales processes are, the more likely we are to miss critical moments or issues in configuration, pricing, quoting, and contract activities. Vendors should offer a solution with customizable alerts to ensure that clear, correct messages are being presented at the right time and enabling all teams involved in the deal process to take action when needed.
Why this question is important: Sending software buyers on their way after purchasing software is like sending them out of an airplane without an emergency parachute. Business users today need fast, quick answers to questions, and want to feel that they are receiving personalized service whether the support ticket springs from a minor or critical issue. CPQ vendors should offer comprehensive, around-the-clock service, and proper system training up-front.