Every company requires a set of products and tools to conduct its business online smoothly, whether they operate in the B2C or B2B e-commerce market. For example, you need software services for CRM, marketing, sales, analytics, accounting, and more.
Anything to do with the management of client-side operations of ERP is usually delegated to third-party solutions from software providers.
If you are wondering why business-side operations are not explicitly mentioned here, it is because many companies prefer to build in-house, native solutions for their core activities that encompass the most crucial aspects of the working of the company. This is especially true for organizations with very unique needs.
However, for customer-side operations, it is easier to use familiar platforms, especially since a lot of lower-level employees and representatives would be working on them and it would be easier to train and onboard them.
Although CPQ or configure, price, quote is basically a different terrain than CRM or customer relationship management, a lot of CRM vendors are now offering many different ERP sectorized products.
The reasoning behind this is that ever since self-service started becoming popular in the B2B e-commerce marketplace, a lot of CPQ has started overlapping with CRM on B2B e-commerce platforms.
Major CRM application software vendors include Oracle, SAP, and, which also have CPQ solutions for B2B e-commerce sales bodies.
Why Is CPQ Software Essential?
CPQ software is a crucial part of all big and small business e-commerce solutions. Just like missteps in CRM, any errors in CPQ can cause major losses to the customer base of B2B e-commerce companies.
Because B2B concerns deal with large quantities of products and therefore large amounts of money, a mistake in a single digit can cause extreme inaccuracies in the invoice.
The client will lose faith in you and, in all probability, churn, no matter how much compensation you provide or discounts you promise. And this is only in the case of a miscalculation.
There are many other scenarios that can jeopardize your business in the billing process. An optimized CPQ software can help avoid these situations easily. Some of its advantages include:
- A CPQ software will help you streamline and hasten the quoting and invoicing process for clients.
- It makes it easy for your sales representatives to navigate the catalog and inventory to provide the right configuration of products to the clients, especially if your product definitions are complex.
- CPQ solutions simplify the process of upselling and cross-selling without seeming too pushy or crafty.
- They assist sales teams in adhering to company policies, rules, and constraints when configuring products for their clients.
- CPQ dashes can provide quick access to customer data and analytics so that sales reps can make informed suggestions to the clients based on what they might be looking for.
- CPQ software can make product configurations and quotes uniform across the sales team so that a client does not think they have been duped if and when they are transferred to another representative.
- It will also make it easier to decentralize the client database and make information accessible to the entire sales team so that no one is in the dark about what business is being conducted.
- It also helps eliminate errors in quotes and prices since most calculations and processing are done by the software itself and not humans.
- It provides a platform with all the tools necessary to optimize every step of the process, thus allowing your sales team to focus on more important tasks and taking over only when necessary.
- When connected with the B2B e-commerce portal, it allows clients to take advantage of self-service and machine-guided processes to order and re-order easily and by themselves.
- If the software utilizes AI, machine learning, and Big Data analytics, they can be harnessed to assist the sales representatives as well as the clients in the configuration, quoting, and billing process.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Your CPQ Software
Before you invest in any CPQ software to work in conjunction with your B2B e-commerce business, make sure it meets the following criteria:
- It should meet your needs and solve the sales and billing problems you were facing.
- The software should complement the B2B e-commerce features you provide your customers. For example, if you have a subscription business model, the CPQ software should have features to enable billing for that.
- It should be compatible at the code level with the rest of your B2B e-commerce software.
- It should be scalable and flexible enough to grow with your business. In fact, it should include features that help you in encouraging B2B e-commerce growth by helping you identify key areas where you can increase profit and generate revenue.
- The CPQ engine should easily incorporate rules and constraints to automate the quoting and billing process as much as possible.
- It should have the performance level to match the size of your business, now and in the future. For example, if your average customer orders 600 products, a software solution that allows only 500 line items will not do.
- It should be able to connect with all information sources and analytics software to better assist the sales representative to provide a tailored proposal to the client. Nowadays, many CPQ solutions plug in AI to make this possible quickly. Some even use NLP when allowing self-service.
- There should be a level of customizability so that it provides features that fit your type and niche of business perfectly.
- This brings us to CPQ tools being able to be made accessible to customers in case self-service is a mode of purchase in your B2B e-commerce
- It should allow collaboration among the sales team as well as any other employee if necessary.
- The training and onboarding process should be simple and easy.
- There should be security measures in place so that the data and information of the business are secure at all times.
- The software vendors should provide regular updates so that it does not become a legacy system.
- The providers should also have sufficient documentation and appreciable customer support, with the least downtime in case of problems.
- The price should be reasonable in terms of its features and how it fares in the above points.
For a closer look at how your CPQ software should make your business easier, check out the top CPQ Trends of 2020 that it should cater to.
Salesforce Vs SAP: Which CPQ Solution To Choose
When looking for the most suitable CPQ software, Salesforce and SAP are both top choices. Salesforce CPQ was developed in-house while SAP acquired CallidusCloud CPQ to provide its own CPQ solution.
Some fundamental differences between the Salesforce and SAP software solutions mean that you must judge the features wisely before making a choice. Given below is a point-wise comparison of the Salesforce software and the SAP software for CPQ:
- For Salesforce, software as a service was always the norm while SAP recently moved to a cloud-based model. Therefore, in terms of performance and management, SAP software as a service is yet to reach the level Salesforce is in.
- SAP software solutions for CPQ incorporate e-commerce while for CPQ of Salesforce, you must connect the Commerce Cloud to utilize e-commerce features.
- CPQ software of SAP allows price optimization and margin protection, which are either absent or weak in the Salesforce quoting software.
- Salesforce.com software allows renewal management and subscription services for recurring revenue business models. This is not present in the SAP business software.
- Salesforce is supported not only on the cloud but also on iOS and Android platforms. But SAP is available only on the cloud right now. Thus, in terms of connectivity and portability, Salesforce does a better job.
- Salesforce provides training in-person as well as live online, besides having extensive documentation and community support. For SAP, you will get training in-person and via webinars and documentation.
- Salesforce provides customer support during business hours and online while SAP provides 24/7 live support besides online customer service. Therefore, SAP provides better customer support than Salesforce.
- Salesforce pricing has 4 options. The CPQ solution is 75 USD and the CPQ Plus option is 150 USD, both per user per month, billed annually. It has two enterprise solutions, CPQ & Billing Growth and CPQ & Billing Plus, in which pricing is negotiated. However, SAP enterprise software is the only pricing method, hence, there is no information regarding its cost. SAP software pricing is done in two modes, the standard edition, and the professional edition, both with custom pricing.
So, Which Is Better?
Both SAP and Salesforce are top contenders in the CPQ category for B2B commerce. While some features are stronger in SAP CPQ, especially in the configuration category, Salesforce automation is smoother.
Since free trials are available for both, it is recommended that you try them out to understand which suits your business better. If you do choose Salesforce, Docmation has some of the best Salesforce developers who can help you set up your Salesforce storefront in no time and get you started on your online B2B business journey.
Source: salesforce sap acquisition