How to Select, Compare and Evaluate CPQ Vendors in 2024 (Ultimate Guide + Free Checklist)

How to Select, Compare and Evaluate CPQ Vendors in 2024 (Ultimate Guide + Free Checklist)

How to Select, Compare and Evaluate CPQ Vendors in 2024 (Ultimate Guide + Free Checklist)

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For many sales teams offering customized or complex solutions, CPQ software is a necessity. The only question is which cpq vendor is right for your organization? We’re going to help you find the answer!

If you’re not familiar with the term, CPQ stands for configure, price, quote. Tools in this category help centralize customer, product and pricing information in order to streamline what would otherwise be a manual quote generation. This helps organizations help reduce costly errors and boost revenue numbers.

In this guide for people starting to explore CPQ solutions, we’ll cover a variety of topics, like:

  • Understanding CPQ Software
  • Criteria for Selecting CPQ Vendors
  • How Sales Teams Can Compare Different CPQ Solutions
  • Case Studies and Success Stories From Actual CPQ Users
  • Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a CPQ Tool

We’re also going to share a free checklist you can use to select the right CPQ vendor software for your organization. Let’s dive in!

Understanding CPQ Software

CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) software makes it easy to configure custom products, automate pricing procedures, and generate quotes for customers.

Just as important, top CPQ solutions integrate seamlessly with CRM and ERP systems. This allows companies to reduce time spent on manual tasks, minimize errors, and ensure consistency throughout the sales process.

Because of these things, CPQ software is an incredibly valuable tool for sales teams in a variety of industries, from manufacturing to professional services.

The Benefits of CPQ Software

CPQ software can be extremely beneficial. Here are a few of the more important benefits:

    • Greater Productivity: Sellers save time by automating repetitive tasks
    • Shorter Sales Cycles: Faster quote generation helps close deals quicker
    • More Revenue: Accurate pricing and faster sales processes can boost revenue
    • Reduced Errors: Automation eliminates human mistakes when sending quotes
    • Consolidate Your Tech Stack: Replace disparate, siloed solutions with an integrated technology experience
    • Better Customer Experience: Quick and precise quotes enhance customer satisfaction
    • Consistent Pricing: Custom rules ensure uniform pricing across all sales channels

Criteria for Selecting CPQ Vendors

Your sales team doesn’t need CPQ software. It needs the right CPQ software.

To make sure you choose the appropriate platform, consider several factors, such as: features, integrations, scalability, support and training options, etc.

Let’s explore these factors in greater detail so that you can select the best CPQ tools for your organization and supercharge your sales process.

Feature Set

Your CPQ software should have a robust feature set that meets your unique needs.

For example, you might want a platform that allows for complex pricing models. Your CPQ system should then be able to accommodate a variety of different pricing schemes (volume-based discounts, bundled pricing, cost-plus, etc.) so you can stay competitive while protecting your margins. You might also want a CPQ solution that can convert a quote into different currencies if you sell to different countries. 

Regardless of your company’s needs, look for a solution that includes in-depth automation capabilities. The less manual labor your sales reps do, the better. You want them connecting with potential customers, not slaving away on data entry. Automation makes this possible.

Finally choose a CPQ platform that’s easy to use and integrates with your current CRM or ERP system. We’ll talk more about this in a bit.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is crucial when comparing CPQ solutions.

An intuitive interface will help your sales reps get up to speed quickly – better yet, a solution that launches directly out of your existing tech stack will ensure your team doesn’t need to waste time learning an entirely new interface and can just benefit from some additional functionality embedded in the CRM or ERP systems they already use every day.

Many CPQ solutions also offer guided selling capabilities that take a sales representative step-by-step through the product or service configuration process if they are unsure where to start.

Trying to minimize the learning curve as much as possible should be top-of-mind as you go through your CPQ exploration process so you can drive higher adoption rates and better ROI from your technology purchase.  

What does an intuitive CPQ software look like? Look for words like “integrated” and “low/no code” as you browse the websites of potential vendors to avoid anything that is siloed from the rest of your tech stack or would be difficult to maintain over time. But ultimately, the best way to gauge the user experience is to read online reviews and sign up for free trials to determine which apps are easy to use. Don’t skip this step!

Integration Capability

Seamless integration capabilities are a game-changer when it comes to CPQ software. Why?

First, they enable smooth data flow between your CPQ solution, CRM software, ERP systems, and various other tools. This means no fragmented customer data. All of your important information stays in one place, easily accessible, and always up to date.

Second, integrated systems boost efficiency. Your team won’t waste time switching between platforms. The brain power they save can then be redirected to closing deals.

Third, it ensures data accuracy. When your CPQ connects to your CRM, for example, your quotes will automatically include the latest customer data. In other words, integrations reduce the risk of errors, which will improve the customer experience.

Scalability

As your company grows, your needs will change, and your technology stack will naturally need to be customized to accommodate these changes. 

Think about an organization that just acquired another company, they will now have to migrate over customer, product, and pricing information into their CRM or ERP. This may be as easy as creating new records and property values but more often is an extremely laborious process resulting in custom developments. 

Now, what happens if you can’t easily reconfigure your CPQ to these changes? You will end up taking on an entirely new project that you weren’t anticipating and likely delay your time-to-market for the new products or services you just acquired.

Avoid situations like these by ensuring your CPQ has a backend that can be easily customized to accommodate new products, pricing, and integration points. Some CPQ solutions even even have AI support within their admin portal to help write new rules and formulas faster than ever before. 

Think about the future. Will your CPQ software need to support more users? Will it need to process more data? Will it need to help reps build bigger, more complicated products? Will you be able to upgrade your subscription and unlock advanced features?

Planning for future growth now saves you from costly replacements down the road. So, always think about scalability when selecting a CPQ tool.

Customization

Every business has unique needs. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t cut it. You need a CPQ solution that lets you tailor features and workflows.

Customizable CPQ tools will allow you and your sales team to adapt the software to your specific sales process. This includes creating bespoke rules for pricing and discounts, and creating highly configured products that meet customer demands even in an ever-shifting market.

Moreover, the ability to add custom fields is crucial as it ensures the software grows with you in the future. As we discussed, scalability is an important consideration if you want to get CPQ right the first time.

Support and Training

The CPQ software you select for your sales team should be easy to use. But that doesn’t mean your reps will never experience issues with it.

When your team hits a roadblock—whether it’s during the onboarding process or years after they start using the app—you’ll want access to quality support and training materials.

Make sure your CPQ vendor offers courses, manuals, or other educational resources. Bonus points if they have a dedicated client success manager or customized small group training too. These things will reduce frustration, while boosting adoption rates and minimizing downtime.

Security

Your sales data is sensitive and needs to stay private. Look for CPQ solutions that comply with industry standards and ensure data security. It’s the right thing to do, but that’s not all…

A secure CPQ tool will help minimize data breaches, which will protect your company from legal issues. It will also go a long way toward building customer trust. When prospects and customers know your sales team values their privacy, they’ll be more open to making a purchase.

Choose CPQ software that has strong encryption features and is committed to regular updates. This will give you the best chance to keep your sensitive information safe from cybercriminals.

Pricing

Last but not least, consider your budget.

Pricing concerns and restrictions are real. You must evaluate the cost of a CPQ solution before you purchase it. Otherwise, you could spend too much and obliterate the ROI of the tool.

Remember, there are different pricing models available. Some vendors offer subscriptions based on number of users while others have tier-based pricing that comes with an increasing number of users and features as you move up pricing tiers.

It will also be in your best interest to inquire about the price of implementation services so you don’t run into unexpected costs when you are ready to get going. If you plan to do most of the implementation and customization yourself, you will also need to account for any additional personnel you might need to bring on to manage this process now and in the future. . 

Ultimately, you need to find a CPQ platform that fits your needs and accommodates your budget. Don’t worry, there are definitely quality solutions out there that won’t break the bank!

How Sales Teams Can Compare CPQ Vendors

Comparing software solutions is always tricky. Because of this, you need a detailed process to find the best CPQ platform for your team. The five steps below will help you evaluate CPQ vendors effectively and choose a tool with confidence. Let’s take a look.

1. Identify Your Needs

Start by identifying your business goals and software requirements.

What do you want to achieve with CPQ software? Talk to your sales reps. Understand their pain points and needs. Do they struggle with real-time pricing issues? Are they spending too much time on quotes? Then make a list of must-have features.

Next, think about the CRM, ERP, and/or e-commerce platforms you already use. Can the CPQ software you want integrate with these tools? If not, move on to a different platform as you won’t be able to build a streamlined CPQ process.

At the end of the day, clear objectives will help guide you to the right CPQ solution.

2. Shortlist Vendors

Next, start shortlisting vendors.

You can do this by asking yourself five questions. Each has to do with the specific criteria you need in your CPQ solution. The five questions are:

  • Does this tool have the features my sales team needs?
  • Will this tool scale with my company as it grows?
  • Does this tool integrate with the other apps my team uses?
  • Does this tool fit my current budget?
  • Do past and current users enjoy using this tool?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” remove it from your list. By the time you’re done, you should have three to five possible solutions to investigate further.

3. Request Demos

Now that you’ve shortlisted a few vendors, request demos.

This will let you see each tool in action, which will make them easier to evaluate. After all, product demos are designed to showcase features in real time.

Product demos will also give you a chance to ask your sales rep questions. (This assumes you’re watching a live demo. Pre-recorded demos don’t allow for this. Though, you can always contact a company after the demo ends for answers.)

Pro tip: Take notes during each demo to help you make an informed decision.

While it may sound tedious, product demos will save you from potential headaches down the road. You’ll see red flags before you’ve paid for a tool and gone through onboarding.

4. Read Reviews

Don’t fall in love with a CPQ software before you’ve read online reviews. Like, a lot of online reviews. You need to know what other people think of the tool before you commit.

What features do other users love? Which aspects of the software make them want to tear their hair out? Is there a steep learning curve or is it pretty intuitive? Does the ROI of the platform justify the cost? What would users change about the app if they had the option?

Sites like G2 and Capterra will help you answer these questions. Read through as many reviews as you can to get a feel for the solutions on your short list.

5. Start Your Free Trial

Now comes the fun part: signing up for free trials.

A free trial will let you test the CPQ vendor on your shortlist yourself. As such, you’ll be able to answer questions like, “Can this app handle a wide range of product options in the configuration stage?” And, “Does it give me complex pricing options?” And, “How difficult is it to integrate with popular CRM systems?” And, “Does my sales team enjoy using this tool?

In other words, a free trial will let you put a piece of software through its paces, evaluate its feature set, and determine if it’s the right solution for your sales department. Because of this, free trials are invaluable in the CPQ evaluation process, however, they can be hard to buy in this space.

Click here to sign-up for a trial of Experlogix CPQ.

We’re throwing a ton of information at you in this article. To help you apply it to your unique real-world scenario, download this free checklist. It’s designed to walk you through the five-step process we just outlined and make sure you choose the right CPQ tool for your sales team.

CPQ Case Studies and Success Stories

What do different CPQ vendors look like in “the wild“? We’re glad you asked. Here are four case studies that show how various B2B companies use CPQ software:

Experlogix

Volvo CE is a global leader in heavy construction equipment. Unfortunately, the company had trouble accommodating product configuration requests in a timely manner. Pricing the products they created was an issue as well. That’s when Volvo CE turned to Experlogix CPQ.

Once Volvo CE connected Experlogix CPQ to its CRM platform, its sales reps were able to take advantage of Experlogix CPQ’s product configurator and pricing features to boost productivity.

The result? Volvo CE can now produce accurate product configurations in less time and price them with ease. This has led to greater team efficiency and increased customer satisfaction.

Oracle CPQ Cloud

Varsity Scoreboards does exactly what you think: build scoreboards for youth athletic programs.

To help streamline its sales process, Varsity Scoreboards invested in multiple Oracle Cloud applications. One of those applications was Oracle’s popular CPQ offering.

Integrating the various Oracle products was easy. Once done, Varsity Scoreboards sales reps were able to easily create new quote requests. Just as important, said reps were able to merge quote requests with existing accounts in real time. This was a huge productivity booster.

SAP CPQ

EXFO helps communications companies test, monitor, and analyze their various solutions. But the quoting process for EXFO sales reps was quite cumbersome.

To improve customer response times and drive more revenue, EXFO turned to the SAP CPQ solution. This allowed the company’s sellers to produce highly accurate quotes in record time. In fact, EXFO’s sales department has been able to produce 70% more quotes per month.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in the CPQ Selection Process

When selecting CPQ software, it’s easy to make mistakes that could cost your sales organization time and resources. Here are some common pitfalls to watch out for:

  • Falling in Love With One Solution: Don’t get too attached to any one CPQ system. Keep an open mind and evaluate multiple options before making a decision.
  • Spending Too Much or Too Little Money: Always balance your budget. Overspending can drain resources, while underspending might leave you with a subpar tool.
  • Thinking About Current Needs, Not Future Needs: Consider your company’s goals and potential growth. Pick software that will scale and adapt to future requirements.
  • Not Involving Your Sales Team in the Selection Process: Your sales team’s feedback is critical. Without it, you’ll likely choose a CPQ solution that doesn’t fit their needs.

Shorten Your Sales Cycle With CPQ Software

The right CPQ software will supercharge your sales team. Once they start using this kind of tool, they’ll become more productive, generate more revenue, and produce happier customers.

All you have to do is choose the best CPQ solution for your company. Good news: after reading this ultimate guide, you know exactly how to do that!

Still stumped on which CPQ tool to choose? We’ll make it easy on you—go with Experlogix.

Our platform is easy to use and super powerful. Sign up for a free demo today to see our CPQ system in action and to decide if it’s what your reps need to succeed.

About the author

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Jacob Thomas is a SAAS content writer. When he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his beautiful wife and their three boys.