Struggling with Slow CPQ?

Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ)  is a cornerstone of digital sales enablement for your team. With global changes in supply chains, work forces, and buyer patterns, CPQ plays a critical role in your business technology stack. According to market research firm Technavio, the CPQ software market is expected to grow by USD 1.14 billion during 2020-2024.

A 2018 Forrester survey found that 75% of global B2B companies classified as “masters” in terms of B2B eCommerce maturity had already purchased or fully adopted online request for quote processes.

However, with this reliance and investment in CPQ software, enterprise businesses struggle with performance issues - slowing revenue, wasting resource time, and frustrating your sales associates and customers. 

In this article, we look at why these performance challenges happen and how to go about addressing them. 

How CPQ Performance Slowdowns Happen

What Slows Down Your CPQ graphic

If you’re an enterprise business, you have complex business rules, multiple systems and processes, and likely a lot of historical complexity. When your CPQ system is taxed with doing everything correctly, it slows down - leading to slow actions, pages timing out, and frustrated users. There are three common factors contributing to CPQ performance issues:

Business Complexity

For your business, you have a lot of complexity not only in your CPQ, but also your CRM, back office, and commerce. You’ve needed to write detailed rules in order to meet your business requirements. Over time, these rules add multiple layers, impacting your CPQ performance.

System Acquisitions

As your business acquires new companies, you need to integrate separate systems to your existing system. These systems may be older, more complex, or simply different from the processes you have in place. Having multiple systems, exceptions, creates additional complexity between different processes that can slow down your CPQ system.

API Calls

A third factor that often impacts performance is the number of API calls happening within your system. Misuse of APIs or improper APIs calls that request too much information can cause system delays. If your CPQ is SaaS based, those regular API calls to update rules will slow down your CPQ system. 

How this Impacts your Bottom Line

These complexities degrade your CPQ performance and your user experience. It can make running CPQ more resource-intensive, more frustrating, and less efficient. It becomes a people problem: making it harder to train and retain your team and customers. And it becomes a revenue problem: slowing down your revenue. 

Fix Your CPQ Performance

Your One Key Metric: Time to Quote

As in any project, we recommend starting with clear, measurable objectives. For CPQ performance issues, it’s a simple metric: reducing the time to quote (also known as quote cycle times). This has impacts throughout your sales, marketing, and operations organization.

Sales leaders care about long quote times because it reduces sales’ team efficiency and impacts quote to close ratios (slower quotes are less likely to close). According to Louis Columbus, writing in Forbes: “It’s been my experience that manufacturers who are the first to produce an accurate, complete quote win the deal at least 60% of the time or more. Reducing Quote Cycle Times increases close rates quickly.”

Sales reps know that long quote cycles can mean that their prospects lose interest. Operations understand how resource-heavy CPQ tooling reduces efficiencies and takes away profitability. Marketing leaders find that long quote times harm your business’ reputation.

Increasing competition in the manufacturing industry puts pressure on organizations to reduce costs, improve customer experience and increase profitability. Organizations armed with digital forces are disrupting business models with new value propositions. This disruption causes a challenge for manufacturing organizations but is also a chance to adopt digital themselves. — Gartner

How to Approach Fixing Your CPQ

Once you’ve identified the challenge, you’ll need to bring expert support to understand and resolve your performance issues. This team needs to include an experienced architect and at least one developer (more if you have a very complex project or shorter timeline). Together, an architect and developer will:

  • Isolate where the performance exists (is it a specific action/s or button/s) 
  • Look at the code
  • Look at any integrations
  • Start logging timestamps to see what code is causing what issues
  • Look at performance logs and see which of the functions is taking up a lot of time
  • Then look into how to optimize the code, integrations, and processes

A note: sometimes it’s not the code, it’s the process. If your business processes are extremely complex or convoluted, the best performance solution will be to change your process. This will need to be a discussion with your business and sales operations teams. 

APIs vs iFrame

We can assess the right solution for your business: whether headless APIs or iFrame. Each has benefits and drawbacks. While APIs are the forward-thinking solution - giving your CPQ tool more features and flexibility - iFrames have their benefits. Because APIs are relatively new, it’s easier to find experienced and efficient solutions to fix performance issues. If your system is very complex, you may have additional performance issues with an API approach. The choice you make will have to be specific to your business and your challenges.

Understanding Your Users

Do you know where and how your users struggle with your CPQ interface? In addition to the technical performance issues, a customer journey mapping exercise can reveal the user interface opportunities to create a more effortless experience. A comprehensive CPQ journey mapping will include:

  • Research and analytics
  • Interviews with your sales, pre-sales, outside sales, and customers
  • Collaborative journey mapping workshop
Journey Mapping Phases graphic

Through this, you can uncover where, why, and how to improve your user experience - including your UX, UI, copy, and design. Done successfully, it reveals opportunities to address customers’ pain points, alleviate fragmentation, and, ultimately, create a better experience for your users.

Results from CPQ Performance Optimization

Enterprise businesses work with Object Edge to unlock measurable performance results. See an example of a manufacturer struggling with complex orders and slow quotes below. In just 4 months, quote times improved an average of 18%, including reducing the time to open quotes from 29 seconds to 15 seconds.

30 product line quote performance graphic

To learn more about how we can help your marketing, sales, and operations performance, reach out today to claim your free audit.

About the Author

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Sarah Falcon

VP, Marketing Global

Sarah is a nimble and creative marketing leader with 15 years of experience in a mix of agencies, B2B, and B2C enterprises. She brings a background in building and driving impactful marketing practices and processes for growing businesses. Sarah has expertise in brand, content marketing, lead generation, and marketing operations. She’s a co-author of the 2019 book on B2B eCommerce Digital Branch Secrets: eCommerce Playbook for Distributors.

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