Smart Selling

Three Challenges to Successful CPQ Implementation

Did you think that CPQ system you just signed up for was plug and play? Nice try! CPQ implementation is a process, not a moment.

It is tempting to see CPQ as a “sales solution” or a tool that only requires Sales to spend a few minutes in learning to navigate the app with little participation from others in your organization.

CPQ is not that easy, and the implementation project needs to be treated with great attention in order to assure that a successful system is deployed.

Here are three key issues that can cause your implementation to come up short. Fortunately, these issues are not difficult to address, but planning in advance is the best way to assure things go well.

Three CPQ Implementation Challenges and Solutions

1. One-dimensional CPQ implementation project – CPQ is not just a sales app. CPQ touches multiple verticals within the enterprise, and it requires participation, buy-in and support from different groups throughout the organization. Product Management and Engineering have to provide specific information about the end-products as well as the parts and assemblies making up those products.

This must include performance-envelop data and other application-specific information. It’s not enough to know that a stainless-steel, chrome and carbon-steel option for part A is available. The CPQ system needs to know what assorted options are used or not used in a given configuration.

Pricing options are not just available, there are restrictions on discounts and usage of nonstandard price lists. Finance must provide that intelligence to the system.

Too many CPQ implementation projects start out and die because Sales management thinks they can do it all without help from IT, Finance, Product Management and other interested parties.

You can assure input, buy-in and participation for the CPQ project by first gaining an upper-management sponsor who can swing the big stick when necessary to assure that the right people have the right focus in terms of bringing the system online.

There is too much at risk to go it alone.

2. Bad data – As the old programmers used to say, “Garbage in, garbage out.” The data accessed and used by the CPQ solution must be accurate, up-to-date and instantly and transparently maintained. Rolling out an end-of-year campaign complete with special promotional pricing and not updating the prices in CPQ is a sure way to destroy the confidence people have in CPQ and lose sales due to inflated prices.

The same thing is true with the configuration data contained within the system. If you are configuring a product using data from last year’s model, you are likely going to create a problem and possibly lose a sale.

All data within the system must be current, accurate and verifiable.

All proposals generated by the system must be data- and time-stamped to be sure of what generation of products, parts and assemblies were used within the quote.

Assuring this a matter of building the process for updating information into the implementation plan. Owners of specific data should take ownership of the process for making sure that data is kept current.

3. Incomplete Whole Product – Don’t forget that selling the product is only part of what has to be done to call a deal complete. The CPQ solution should not just be limited to getting the part numbers and descriptions correct; there are other things to consider.

Payment plans, finance vehicles, delivery options, post-implementation maintenance and the implementation/training or installation plan itself are all part of the whole product. Your customer will not consider the deal done if you disappear once the freight leaves the plant bound for the customer’s loading dock.

This is especially true if your product involves any virtual aspects or is perhaps a cloud-based product or other intangible offering. People have active imaginations, and they will fill in holes in your presentation with expectation that you might not be prepared to meet.

This falls upon product management. They are used to thinking products down to the most basic components including the intangibles. Make sure they are included in your selection and implementation planning.

CPQ implementation doesn’t have to be a horror story, but it does require planning. Most importantly, it requires the participation of all stakeholders in the implementation process.

Keeping the team involved from start to finish will help to make sure that critical items aren’t missed.

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