There are many definitions for the Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) process, and that can make understanding it – and the solutions supporting it – confusing. In this article, Kalle Aerikkala, Business Consultant at Vendavo, explains what to look for in a CPQ software option, the features and questions that can help with decision-making, and how to decide between the top CPQ solutions providers.
When we say Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ), what are we talking about? There are many definitions for this process and even more for the solutions supporting it. That means we need to separate the definitions for each process step to create clarity:
- Configuration – actions to define or select the appropriate products and services to best match with customer request. This is a broad definition as the CPQ process can be utilized across various industries.
- Pricing – actions to determine the best price for this specific offer. This definition excludes price management processes that are done separately, for example.
- Quoting – the customer interaction to present, agree, and process the offer. This includes one-off quotes, long-term agreements, and updates.
So, how do we map these actions into actual CPQ solution elements? First, we need to differentiate between two types of configuration: technical and sales. This seemingly small distinction is at the core of any CPQ solution, because some focus on handling technical configuration – and not so much on the pricing and quoting processes – while others support configuration in a simpler manner but focus on the pricing and quoting.
This article focuses on CPQ solutions that support simple configuration, pricing, and quoting.
See more on the fundamentals and benefits of a CPQ solution.
How to Choose the Right CPQ Software
CPQ solutions can be used to transform the way an organization performs its business, and that can drive significant business outcomes. A CPQ calculator can help you scope out the magnitude of the opportunity.
Establishing that using a CPQ tool makes sense is easy, but selecting the right solution can be more complicated. Reviewing CPQ options can take a lot of time and effort, but it is an essential part of the process if you are considering starting a project to implement or change your sales support solutions.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Comparison of CPQ software often focuses on solution capabilities, meaning features and functions
- Feature function information is readily available in public sources, but a more fine-tuned approach may yield better results
- The first focus should not be on the feature-function level but instead focus on the most immediate business issues and key process flows you want to solve
- There will be positives and negatives for any CPQ software, so focus on understanding the details of the considered CPQ software for handling key issues and critical flows
It’s best to only focus on individual features and functions if two or more CPQ software options can handle those flows equally well. This is how you’ll know they might add efficiency to your process.
You also need to think about the different outcomes that different stakeholder groups are expecting from your CPQ software. These outcomes can be divided into organizational objectives such as:
Understanding each stakeholder’s investment will go a long way toward selecting the right CPQ software solution option for your organization’s needs. There are many features that differentiate solutions, and digging into what to look for can also help your decision-making process.
An Approach to Comparing CPQ Solutions
When looking for a CPQ solution, it’s best to identify the capabilities and features most important for your organization and conduct rigorous research. You can start by consulting analyst reports, user reviews, and customer testimonials, to name a few sources. The rest of this article uses 3 main sources to present CPQ software options:
The solutions we mention here were profiled in at least two out of the three sources. Please note that the descriptions in our comparison section are based on third-party reviews, and that your organization should do its own research to select the CPQ software option that’s best for your needs.
CPQ Features to Look For
The CPQ solution you put in place today must be able to support your long-term business growth. Consider capabilities every modern CPQ solution should have like:
- User-friendly and intuitive, requiring minimal training
- Easy integration with CRM, ERP, and other systems through a simple API
- Quick and professional document generation for sales proposals, allowing your team to focus on closing deals
- Real-time pricing and product information during quoting, including multi-currency support, cross-selling, and flexible rules
- Multi-organizational quoting to enable sales reps to source products from different divisions and create consolidated proposals
- Flexibility to adapt to evolving selling capabilities and channels
Top CPQ Solution Providers
Here is a quick look at the available CPQ software solutions and the features they offer. They are listed in alphabetical order by solution provider:
The Conga CPQ solution is part of Congas Revenue Lifecycle Cloud that spans from initial sales to ongoing renewals of subscription agreements. Conga CPQ supports configuration and advanced product search within the CPQ.
- Configuration can combine physical goods, software- and other subscriptions.
- Dynamic questions can be used in the self-service setting to determine the right configuration.
- Pricing in Conga CPQ supports one-time and recurring price models.
- The pricing engine can use dimensional or formula pricing and related discount policies to set the right price for each deal.
- Promotion features in pricing can be used to set time-bound special pricing.
- The price transparency options allow sales teams to understand profitability across multiple discounts or adjustments.
- For quoting, Conga CPQ offers capabilities for single billing and long-term subscription management.
Reviews: Conga CPQ gets praise for its abilities to handle complex subscriptions, link the offering to invoicing processes, and use Salesforce tooling. Negative reviews about the solution’s performance – specifically about the slow speed of the shopping cart – are consistent across analyst reports and user reviews.
Epicor CPQ is part of the Epicor portfolio and managed under its Sales & Marketing solutions. Epicor describes its CPQ as having a visual configuration that directly brings product illustrations to the sales team or end users. It:
- Has an advanced rules engine to enforce allowed configurations
- Supports cross and upsell recommendations based on the configuration created
- Offers the capability to use preconfigured price rules to adapt to the configuration selections
Epicor does not provide details on how quote documents or integrations for creating actual quotes are supported.
Reviews: Epicor CPQ gets high marks for its visual support of the configuration, allowing users to see the result of the configuration as it is being created. The rulesets that govern the configuration engine and underlying SNAP language also receive positive mentions for being flexible and powerful. Negative notes include missing capabilities on pricing support, proposal generation, and negotiation support.
Oracle CPQ was created by Oracle Corporation and is part of the Oracle Sales product family under customer experience applications within the Oracle cloud. It:
- Has an attribute-based configuration model suitable for physical and non-physical products, including subscription service setups.
- Supports guided selling, which is essential for the main user groups that are sellers.
- Offers sales team pricing and discounting data based on current promotions and regulations
- Offers document designer, contract management, and quote document processing capabilities
Reviews: Oracle CPQ is applauded for its omnichannel support strengths and ability to support service businesses, widely used as part of a broader Oracle system landscape to create a single provider solution, and has good integration capabilities to external systems like Dynamics CRM or Vendavo Rebate & Channel Manager. Negative comments on Oracle revolve around complexity, relating to maintaining the solution or the learning curve for new users.
PriceFx CPQ is managed under the Sales and Marketing solutions portion of the PriceFx portfolio. Here are a few quick facts:
- The solution manages configuration by adding simple line items to a quote.
- No guided selling or specific configuration options are described as included in the solution.
- Pricing is supported by pricing modules from PriceFx portfolio, including list price management and price optimization.
- It supports quoting through a configured quote template that will collect the product and pricing information to be provided for the customer.
Reviews: PriceFx CPQ is commended for its ability to connect and deliver pricing information, as well as its ability to script custom logic to fit actual customer use cases. It is criticized consistently for lacking significant capabilities in the configuration process and is said to only support simple product sales.
PROS has a smart CPQ solution that is a distinctive product within the PROS portfolio.
- For configuration, PROS CPQ is described to support complex configurations – even in engineer-to-order cases and easy product selection.
- Configuration can be done in the CPQ application or exposed to be done through the partner portal.
- The solution can visualize changes made to the configuration within the application as they are made.
- Pricing in it includes list prices and discounts.
PROS can offer additional products that integrate with its CPQ to improve pricing for a specific quote.
Reviews: PROS CPQ gets high marks from analysts for its ability to recommend configurable products for configuration as well as for performance. There are relatively consistent negative mentions about its integration capabilities, which are reported to be complex to set up and can lead to slow response times in receiving solutions.
Salesforce CPQ is part of the Salesforce Revenue and Sales Cloud product suites.
- Its product configurator uses guided selling to help sales teams select the right products and options.
- Configurator can be used to add or remove options for the product bundles.
- Pricing in Salesforce CPQ is supported with minimum and maximum value rules, pricing rules, and discount controls.
- Quoting is supported with document generation, plus usage-based pricing and services support.
- Salesforce CPQ is used across many industries, including manufacturing, distribution, and service businesses.
Reviews: Salesforce CPQ is praised for the extensive ecosystem of partners that can support its deployment and integration. Negatives include complexity, difficulty of implementation, and lack of configuration capabilities.
SAP manages the CPQ solution as part of its Financial Management portfolio. It has detailed product selection and configuration possibilities, and:
- Configuration support includes step-by-step support to choose the compatible product options.
- SAP CPQ’s description for pricing includes margin control, discount controls, and pricing recommendations.
- It can hold price lists and costs used in sales support and trigger approvals automatically based on predefined ruleset.
- Cross- and upsell recommendations can be delivered through it.
- For quoting, SAP CPQ highlights the capability to create big offers with more than 10,000 lines in seconds.
Reviews: SAP CPQ gets positive mentions for its capabilities in configuration. It has a powerful configuration engine compared to other commercial configurators, and SAP’s strong market position and resulting installed base are key strengths. SAP CPQ offers tight integration with other SAP technology. It gets negative reviews for an unintuitive user interface, especially for managing service business within SAP CPQ.
Vendavo Intelligent CPQ is one part of the Vendavo solution platform. Vendavo is the only CPQ software supplier that also has full end-to-end pricing and sales support capabilities, from list price setting to rebate accruals and payment tracking. It has a clear value and outcomes focus, which is even supported by a specific function to help users with value tracking.
- For configuration, Vendavo Intelligent CPQ offers guided selling and a robust rules engine to handle complex configurations.
- Its rules engine works with queries, global parameters, and customer-specific entities if needed.
- Vendavo Intelligent CPQ can hold list prices, discounts, and price agreements.
- It can also be integrated into Vendavo pricing solutions to deliver optimized price recommendations for sales.
- For quoting, Vendavo Intelligent CPQ provides templates to design the offer documents and the ability to integrate to e-signature service.
Reviews: Vendavo Intelligent CPQ gets consistently good reviews about its ability to deliver price optimization for the sales teams and capability to act as a marketplace in channel environment, which is further enhanced with rebate & channel management capabilities. Critiques include issues with older version usability, the time it takes to configure the full solution, the extensibility framework, and a limited number of partners.
How to Choose the Right CPQ Solution for You
There are distinct differences among the top CPQ software options, and simple comparison will never be enough to make the final decision on which is the correct solution for an organization.
To determine the best option for you, think about questions like:
- What are your most urgent problems to solve?
- Which features and functions will most help you solve those urgent problems?
- Is the CPQ software developed with your specific industry in mind?
It may also help to have an experienced guide to answer your questions and provide information about available solutions. The Vendavo team can be your experienced guide throughout the discovery process on selecting the right CPQ software.
How Vendavo Can Help with Your CPQ Software Needs
Having the right CPQ software solution in place is key to business success. Choosing the best option for your organization’s needs requires examining the various options through a different lens: that of your stakeholders. This will help you determine which outcomes are most important and which option will best help your team reach its targets.
Vendavo’s Intelligent CPQ can help your team increase sales productivity and win rates while delivering an improved customer experience. Quote iterations are reduced, customer churn decreases, and win rates increase, elevating your enterprise’s profitability. Reach out today to learn more about how the solution can positively impact your bottom line.