Choosing a CPQ Vendor: 10 Red Flags to Look Out For

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    Choosing the right CPQ vendor is essential. The last thing you want is to be paying for features your team doesn’t need, or worse, using features that create barriers to purchase and muddle the Configure, Price, and Quote process.

    How do you choose the right CPQ vendor? It’s a good idea to start with what to avoid, and we have several red flags to look out for.

    In this article, we’ll identify those red flags so you can confidently choose the right CPQ software for your enterprise.

    Let’s jump right in.

    What is CPQ? 

    CPQ is a sales tool that generates quotes for orders.

    From a sales perspective, CPQ software automates many of the administrative tasks that sales reps and sales managers must carry out to close sales. From a customer perspective, it simplifies and makes the buying experience better.

    ‘CPQ’ stands for Configure, Price, Quote. The tool works in that order.

    Here’s a simple explanation of the CPQ process:

    A sales rep or end customer configures a product with point and click > the tool calculates the configured product’s price > the tool generates a quote and sends it to the customer.

    Our page “What is CPQ?” goes into greater detail.

    CPQ features and capabilities

    You can deploy CPQ software for use by sales teams, end-customers, or both depending on your sales process.

    The core feature of all CPQ software is the product configurator – the interface used to configure products. It’s powered by product and pricing rules, which are little bits of logic programmed into the solution that determine how products can (and should) be assembled and priced.

    The ability of CPQ software to solve complex configurations is dependent on the rules engine. The Epicor CPQ rules engine, Snap, can handle the most complex queries. It’s easy to use with a minimal learning curve. Rules can be created and maintained by non-technical users, and there’s no coding required – there’s nothing else like it in the CPQ space.

    The Snap rules engine is but one of over a dozen features Epicor CPQ offers. Here’s a list of some of the other features you get with Epicor CPQ:

    • Visual product configurator – deliver 2D and 3D visuals
    • AR and VR integration
    • Website embedding
    • Pricing rules
    • Product rules
    • Real-time pricing (dynamic pricing)
    • Instant quote generation
    • eCommerce integration
    • CRM integration
    • ERP integration
    • CAD and design automation
    • Powerful workflow engine

    Simply put, Epicor CPQ provides a single source of truth that connects front- and back-office teams and gets more deals moving through your sales pipeline more quickly. It connects to the tools your business already uses and slots effortlessly into your sales process. If you sell complex configurable products, have a slow time to quote, and lack eCommerce abilities, then a visual CPQ like Epicor CPQ could be ideal for you.

    10 red flags to look out for with CPQ vendors 

    CPQ software has the potential to revolutionize your sales cycle and increase annual sales revenue by 168% (the average for Epicor CPQ users.)

    But first, you need to select a CPQ vendor.

    What should you look for? You need a CPQ solution that accommodates the size of your business, works with other software, and is scalable.

    With these requirements in mind, here are ten red flags you should look out for when selecting a CPQ vendor:

    1. It isn’t SaaS (fake cloud)

    Most CPQ vendors advertise their platform as in the cloud. However, they will fail to make the distinction between whether they are SaaS (software-as-a-service), PaaS (platform-as-a-service), or IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service).

    SaaS is the most flexible cloud model for CPQ because you are not tied to any additional hardware or software vendors. This gives you total control over deployments.

    Epicor CPQ is a 100% cloud SaaS application.

    2. It lacks integrations

    CPQ shouldn’t exist in a silo. Instead, it should integrate with your preferred CRM, ERP, and CAD software, and it should do so elegantly.

    Epicor CPQ integrates with an unbeatable collection of apps, including ERP systems like Epicor, CRM platforms like Salesforce, eCommerce platforms like Shopify, and CAD systems like SolidWorks. You can find the complete list of supported integrations here.

    3. It lacks scalability

    As your business needs grow, your CPQ has to keep up.

    Scalability challenges might include:

    • Greater product volume.
    • Greater product complexity.
    • Greater pricing complexity.
    • More extensive product catalogs.
    • More complex workflows.
    • More MQLs and SQLs

    You shouldn’t have to face bottlenecks or exorbitant price hikes when adding resources to your CPQ and demanding more from it. The architecture behind Epicor CPQ is designed to handle growth at scale. So look for a CPQ that will address your needs well into the future.

    4. It doesn’t do dynamic pricing

    Dynamic pricing shows price changes as a product gets configured. It does this in real-time so that customers and sales reps can see how different customizations affect pricing and make snap purchase decisions.

    Using Epicor CPQ, you can create dynamic prices for every possible configuration and incorporate different dynamics, such as temporary pricing scenarios and market demands.

    5. It can’t manage multiple sales channels

    Having multiple sales channels like dealers, distributors, retailers, and eCommerce sellers, each with its unique pricing and product selections, means you need an omnichannel CPQ to deliver different user experiences.

    Epicor CPQ lets you define user roles and permissions for your configurations. As a result, you can build and customize your CPQ to accommodate all sales channels and provide a buying experience that’s consistent but differentiated when it needs to be.

    6. It doesn’t do embedding (no self-serve)

    If you intend to let customers self-serve, your configurator must be embeddable into your website. If it isn’t, you will have to go through the painstaking and expensive process of hard-coding everything yourself.

    An embedded visual product configurator is a powerful sales tool for eCommerce websites. Users can point and click and drag and drop to build custom products, promoting buyer independence and decision-making.

    With embedding, you can reach any buyer, any time, anywhere, through any device. It’s ideal for today’s distributed workforces. Epicor CPQ can be embedded into any website with a few clicks.

    7. It doesn’t do guided selling

    Selling complex, configurable products with thousands of potential options and dependencies is hard! For new hires, it can often seem impossible.

    Guided selling simplifies the sales process, guiding sales reps through available product options via upsells, cross-sells, and recommendations designed to maximize margin and order size. You can ramp new hires in days rather than weeks.

    8. It can’t handle the most complex configuration rules

    If you sell complex products that demand complex rules, you need a CPQ tool that can handle whatever you throw at it. Unfortunately, not every CPQ solution can.

    Epicor CPQ has a unique rules engine called Snap. Snap handles mathematical functions, product rules, and manufacturing data with advanced language features include loops, arrays, queries, functions, subroutines, variables, and custom classes.

    Understand all that? It doesn’t matter because Snap is drag-and-drop with no coding required.

    9. It has to be maintained by an external agency

    To expand on my point above, the biggest drawback of most CPQ software is you need coding experience to maintain it. Want to add a variable? You need code. Want to add a table to incorporate data? You guessed it; you need code.

    Why add complexity to a solution that should make life easier? If you don’t want to call an agency partner and fork out money every time you release a new product, choose a CPQ solution like Epicor CPQ with a true no-code rules engine.

    10. It lacks immersive visual capabilities in 3D and AR/VR

    One of the most significant advantages of a robust visual configurator is it offers visualization capabilities in 2D/3D/AR/VR. It provides a virtual showroom and a fully immersive buying experience that captures buyers’ attention and gets them spending.

    Many CPQ tools lack a visual configurator because they were never originally designed to display visual content, only text. But with the way B2B buying is heading post-pandemic, only a 3D solution that’s VR- and AR-ready will be future-proof.

    Emily Stevens

    Emily Stevens

    Emily is a marketing professional with knowledge across branding, digital strategy, and creative content. She enjoys educating her audience on the benefits of products and how their ease and use can help with efficiency and problem solving.