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How CPQ is helping optimise sales across industries

As customer expectations soar, traditional “reactive selling” is not enough and the need for a proactive, customer-centric, data-driven and highly automated sales process is necessary to remain competitive in all industries.

Businesses who do not embrace such modern selling structures, are finding bottlenecks left, right and centre; a sure sign of inefficiency. These bottlenecks impede business operations from flowing properly resulting in delays, inconsistencies, and oversights that can veer potential customers off the path to purchase, leading to revenue loss.

To overcome these inefficiencies, “Quote-to-Cash” solutions encompass a set of business processes that have been identified as the most important, but sometimes least automated and least well-controlled within companies.

A leading Quote-to-Cash solution is Salesforce’s CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) - offering companies, a unified quote-to-cash solution.

In this article, we look at how this solution can be used to overcome common sales bottlenecks in four key industries: Manufacturing, Healthcare, Telecommunications and Financial Services.

Manufacturing is built on complex supply chains, with many, often unpredictable external factors causing fluctuations to their costs and their margins.

When the quoting and ordering processes are not integrated and automated, these fluctuations may not be accurately reflecting in the prices sales reps are quoting to potential customers. Salesforce CPQ stores all of this information in one view, enabling sales teams to produce accurate, personalised quotes with the click of a button.

Another common cause of bottlenecks in the sale process are long approval processes that many organisations still have in place. Salesforce CPQ automates this process to cut approval waiting time in half.

Here’s an example of how automated approval works: 

A sales rep needs approval on a discount for a specific product, following this up manually could take days and in that time the customer could lose interest in the purchase.

Salesforce CPQ allows you to set predefined approval rules, if the discount meets those conditions, the system will send out an approval request to an approver or group of approvers – following it up automatically until it is closed.
What’s great about this solution is that automation doesn’t come at the cost of good governance, as the automation will only fire when predefined conditions are met and are consistent across all products and regions.

In Manufacturing, an order usually consists of many different parts or “suborders”. Lacking a unified view of an up-to-date product, part and accessories catalogue, the many moving parts in the order lifecycle make it hard for sales reps to provide complete quotes and track accordingly, leading to delayed deliveries and frustrated customers.

Salesforce CPQ offers a unified view of your products, helping manufacturers manage complex product configurations with click-to-customise functionality and quick and accurate quotes.

After creating a new quote with the Quote Management feature, you can then view all “Active” (in-stock, has met other pre-defined rules, etc.) products you can add to your quote. 

This function is kept accurate and up to date because your product specifications and availability are programmed directly into Salesforce CPQ - this means that regardless of any internal/external roadblocks, reps can always quote products that are in supply.

Other key uses of Salesforce CPQ in Manufacturing: 

  • Elevating sales and partner productivity with on-the-go guided selling, automating quote generation, and seamless integration with partner communities
  • Increasing profitability and revenue by enforcing pricing guardrails, automating approvals, and uncovering upsell and cross-sell opportunities


Curing the sales process in Pharmaceuticals and Medical Supplies companies

Med-tech sales representatives are being asked to provide quick, frictionless buying processes for customers despite dealing with an increasingly complex product catalogue. 

When those customers are GPOs (Group Purchasing Organisations) the pressure to painstakingly rationalise every quote for every product is increased tenfold. This is because with only a few parties responsible for the lion’s share of the industry’s purchasing, there is no room for error. 

On top of this, there is also government regulation compliance to consider. Product bundles must not only be priced and quoted correctly, but they must also adhere to regulatory standards in the medical space. Without a clear view of all of these puzzle pieces, sales representatives face huge bottlenecks and revenue leakage.

Salesforce CPQ removes these bottlenecks and simplifies large product catalogues and complex pricing models to aid sales reps in finding the best offers for their customers whilst also remaining compliant. 

The Guided Selling Flow feature simplifies Healthcare’s often complex sales cycle by prompting sales reps to select relevant products/services which have been filtered to the customer’s needs. 

Configuration and pricing rules ensure that configured solutions are accurate and that price guidelines are followed. This means consistent quotes, on the right items, with no manual data-entry errors — and that means decreased quote times and increased quote acceptances. 

However, the relationship with the customer goes beyond the quote – CPQ can also create orders, and is able to generate sales or service contracts, track entitlements, and gauge assets so that every customer team is able to get a holistic view of the customer to provide superior service and support. All of this enriches the customer lifecycle, and as a result bolsters revenue.

Telecommunications is an industry characterised by fierce competition and ever-shorter product life cycles. Their customers have complex needs – with everyone requiring a personalized combination of devices, data services, promotional plans, financing terms, trade-in arrangements and many other services. 

The sales agents are required to have a working knowledge of the various products, services and bundles on offer, which presents a challenge when these are constantly changing, and up-to-date information is not easily accessible. 

Due to these complexities, sales agents often struggle to put all requirements in one bucket and show the final quote. Data may not be centralised; service rules may be conflicting and even their databases may be inaccessible to them. Thus, sales teams often end up creating inaccurate quotes, creating mistrust and losing potential customers.

Salesforce CPQ gives these agents the 360-customer view which enables them to provide up-to-date product information and quotes for their existing and potential customers. They can create ad-hoc quotes and their understanding of internal costs becomes relatively easy. Besides, CPQ also allows for the incorporation of eligibility criteria, financing terms, sales occasions, customer segments and operator channels. This feature is also quick to launch and simple to integrate – saving time that could be spent closing deals.

Another useful feature is the quote validation before completing an order. With so many moving parts and product variants, turning a quote into an order often holds risk for human error. However, before a quote is turned into an order, Salesforce CPQ assures accurate pricing, even when thousands of variables are combined – as is common in Telecommunications. Moreover, it validates each quote to make sure it is technically sound and commercially feasible.

Other applications include: 

  • Managing complex deals with transaction, subscription, and usage fee models
  • Managing live contracts with easy add-ons and change orders and automated co-termination. (Co-termination is also known as “billing charges alignment” – giving customers owning two or more active subscriptions for different products under the same vendor the option to synchronise expiration/renewal dates). 
  • Automating price and discount rules to support any deal or budget

Calculating efficient sales processes in Financial Services

Similarly, to Telecommunication companies, Financial Services organisations have multiple offerings and customers may have accumulated over the years several products for themselves and their families. If this information is not readily available to customer service and sales representatives/advisors, their ability to successfully cross-sell and upsell reduces significantly.  

Salesforce CPQ combats these challenges by creating a centralised view of all customer history, enabling sales representatives to create personalised quotes and improve overall customer experience. On top of this, the automated and pre-defined approval rules ensure that good governance is followed, and rules can be custom-built to ensure regulatory standards are upkept. 

Part of the day-to-day responsibilities of financial services sales representatives include recommending financial services and products to meet client needs. These might include insurance policies, credit cards, checking accounts, loans, mutual funds and stocks. They must constantly monitor the markets and economy and evaluate how changes in finances can affect taxes and client situations.

Collecting and verifying this information for widespread use across teams in different regions is made easier with Salesforce CPQ’s unified view. As reps can import historic trends and recommendations for future use with other clients.

Salesforce CPQ provides added value to all four key industries we have discussed, from product and quote management, to good governance and guided selling – CPQ offer sales teams an easy-to-use software built to accelerate time-to-value.

Other useful links:

Salesforce CPQ

Salesforce Financial Services Cloud 

Salesforce Health Cloud

Salesforce Services

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