June 26 by Tom Banton

The job of Sales is to sell and sales technology’s role is to help Sales sell. To do this I would like to literally redefine CPQ. Traditionally the acronym stands for ‘Configure Price Quote,’ but in today’s global, multi-channel, mobile economy, CPQ should stand for ‘Collaborate Perfect Quotes’.


I am always amazed at the number of people that play a role in getting a quote to a customer, yet not all of these groups have access to company sales systems, or use the same system. Finance, Engineering, Purchasing, Manufacturing and Legal should all be working from the same set of tools as your sales teams. Getting your customer involved in the process makes them owners of the process and invested in your solution.

Some CRM quoting tools can generate contracts based on quotations, but what happens when sales negotiates special terms as part of the quotation process? Based on my 25 years plus in CPQ software, this happens with almost every large quote across every industry. Waiting for legal to manually review special quote terms can kill a deal.

So who is missing from the list above? IT. Their role may be to enable the sales process, but they should have no active role in the quotation process. If IT is involved in every quotation then something in your process is broken or too complex. Technology should no longer be the limiting factor in collaboration of a common quote across all these departments. Processes should be simplified to only include departments when necessary and route for approvals when required.

Of course, the more people that touch a quote can lead to reduced speed and errors which leads me to:


The easiest two ways to lose a deal is to:

  1. Deliver it later than your competition. It may not be fair, but many times and in many industries ‘First In, Wins!’
  2. Deliver a solution that doesn’t live up to customer expectations. Would you do business with someone that didn’t understand your business?

Too many sales implementations simply recreate current processes in modern technology and improvements pushed to Phase 2 or beyond that don’t always occur. I am also puzzled at the number of CPQ projects that are implemented without the involvement of the sales people that will become the end-users of said tool. Involve all aspects of sales to find out how to deliver faster and best-possible:


Your quotation (and contractual) documents are representations of your company – in writing. They should be professional looking and the ‘one size fits all’ approach to delivering quotations belongs in the software museum.

All quotes should have some level of personalization. Quotes to dealers/partners should have their branding as well as yours. Products and services should have your customer/dealer part numbers and descriptions and not just yours. Descriptions should be in their native language, not yours. Some customers will want the details of configurations but many are satisfied with just a top-level bundled price. The more details you give a customer, the more details you need to maintain and get approved as quotes/orders change. Whether or not you need full contract management software is a point of discussion (and another blog) but all terms and conditions presented to your customer must be approved and tracked.

Use a resume as an example of a good quotation. State the purpose of the quote right at the beginning and enough details to get the core message across. When was the last time you hired someone with a five-page resume or bought something because of a fancy data sheet? Less is often more, and formatting the quotation for the specific customer-use is key.

In summary ask yourself, “What makes your best sales person so successful?” Chances are they are well aligned with your customer and within your company. When deploying sales solutions try to mimic their intelligence and savvy yet improve the procedures of your best rep. Use tools like guided selling, attribute pricing and configuration, intelligent searching, deal analytics, and advanced workflow to make all your sales people as effective as your top talent. Configuring and Pricing are table stakes in (most of) today’s technology. Collaboration and creating the perfect quote for your customer is the key to rising above your competition.

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