Your CPQ is a critical piece of your sales org. But for complex businesses, getting CPQ that's easy, intuitive, and fast can be daunting. 

So how do you pick the right platform, how do you implement the right solution, and how do you create an experience that makes CPQ as effortless as possible?

Your CPQ is a critical piece of your sales org. But for complex businesses, getting CPQ that's easy, intuitive, and fast can be daunting. 

So how do you pick the right platform, how do you implement the right solution, and how do you create an experience that makes CPQ as effortless as possible?

There are many myths and misconceptions about enterprise CPQ and Rohit Garewal (CEO, Object Edge) and Ken Ailes (CPQ Leader, Oracle) are here to bust them. 

About the Presenters

Rohit headshot Rohit Garewal, CEO
OBJECT EDGE
Rohit is a forward-thinking digital evangelist, driven to solve the challenges the B2B sector faces. Working with complex global enterprises, he leads CPQ, commerce, design enablement that creates effortless digital experiences.
Ken headshot Ken Ailes, CPQ/Commerce Leader
ORACLE
Ken has been with Oracle since 2005, and has been leading CPQ teams since 2015. Ken has worked with many of Oracle’s largest CPQ customers across all industries to help them transform their digital selling experience.


Read the Full Webinar Transcript

 

Sarah Falcon: Alright, let's get started. Well, I'm excited for this conversation today, we have a great selection of people. So we're calling this webinar “CPQ Myths, Busted.” We have two great mythbusters to help us with that. Whether you're on live or on demand, we're glad that you're here. We hope everything is going well. I can't believe we're almost in October already. We're excited to be talking about CPQ, we know that CPQ is a critical part of the business and getting it right is really complex, and getting something that's easy, intuitive, and feels effortless, can feel daunting. We're here to talk about, you know, how do you find that right platform? How do you find the right solution? How do you create that experience? And what are sort of the myths that have gotten in the way so far? So we have Rohit Garewal today, the CEO at Object Edge and Ken Ailes, who is the CPQ leader at Oracle to talk about some of these myths and misconceptions. 

Before I get into them, just some housekeeping. This will be very conversational. I’m excited for these two to start chatting. And you can jump in at any time. There are two ways of doing that with this webinar. You can ask a question in the questions panel or you can post in the chat. We'll try to get to your chats or comments or questions. And we'll follow up if we can't with you directly. And if you have to drop off for any reason, this webinar will be available on demand. We'll be sending out the recording in a couple of days. 

I'll introduce myself, I'm the VP of Marketing at Object Edge, Sarah Falcon, and I'm excited to introduce Ken and Rohit. Ken Ailes is a CPQ leader at Oracle. He's been with Oracle since 2005, and leading the CPQ team since 2015. He's worked with many of Oracle's largest CPQ customers across all industries, helping them transform their digital selling experience.

Rohit Garewal is the CEO at Object Edge. He's a forward-thinking digital evangelist, really focused on solving the challenges that the B2B sector faces. He works with complex global enterprises and leads CPQ eCommerce and design enablement that creates effortless digital experiences. So with that, welcome, Ken and Rohit.

Ken Ailes: Great to be here.

Rohit Garewal: Thanks, Sarah.

Sarah: Yeah. To kick off the conversation, since we're talking about myths, I wanted to ask you both and ask the crowd to join in too. What are your favorite myths that got busted, you know, since everything changed in 2020. Ken. why don't you take this one first?

Ken: I think the biggest myth he got busted is that french fries are good via delivery. They’re not. I don't care who it is. I don't care how close you live to the place. French fries are not good when delivered. Now in all honesty, I think the biggest thing is that I think a lot of companies really thought that they knew their customers really, really well. And they knew how their customers like to buy and those kinds of things. And I think the biggest thing that that 2020 did was really upend how well we thought we knew our customers and how well our customers wanted to buy and that we were prepared, you know, to be able to service our customers any way that we wanted to. I think a lot of companies, you know, I wouldn’t say were caught flat footed, but, well, I think we were all caught flat footed, but good grief, we all got caught by surprise and I think the biggest thing that it really pointed out was we were all kind of lacking in the way that we really service our customers, that we didn't know our customers and our buying habits as well as we thought that we did. Rohit?

Rohit: Yeah, look, by far the biggest myth is that NFL rookie quarterbacks are any good. My fantasy team is a testament to that.

Other than that one, let's see, you know, I'm going to go with the myth that, and I know this could be touchy. So this is going to be very industry-specific, is that we need to be in an office. When I started consulting at the Big Fives, you know about 20-some years ago, there was this feeling that you have to be at the client site, you know, as a contractor, or as a consultant, you have to be at the client site. We used to fly all over the world, we used to stay in hotels, you know, 250 days a year, 200,000 miles, and that started going away, way before COVID. You know, gosh, I'd say it's been about 10 to 12 years since we've had to be on the client site to do a software implementation full time.

But there was this myth that I used to partake in as well, that at the same time, we need offices for our employees to be together to implement software. And I can tell you, over 2020 and 2021, for our industry, at least, that myth has been busted. Our team is doing phenomenal work as are teams across the globe.

Adjusting, adapting, improvising, leveraging technology in ways that we never thought we'd have to, to deliver great work. And so that would be an amazing kind of thing. And it's gonna be fascinating to see how this changes the world moving forward. I don't think it's done yet. So yeah, myth for me is that in order to implement software, we've all got to be in the same office at the same time to get that done.

Sarah: Awesome. Yeah, thanks, Rohit, it really has been sort of a seismic shift in what we expected going into 2020, to where we are looking at going into 2022. And I wanted to dig now sort of into the business trends, and trends we're seeing in CPQ. And Rohit, you have some things to share on where we're seeing changes in the market trends and in how CPQ works within businesses and what businesses are needing for future facing. 

Rohit: Yeah, I won't go too much into this. Here, when we talk about CPQ and an entire workflow. You know, what are we really talking about, we're talking about growth, we're talking about helping clients, whether you're in B2B, whether you're in financial services, healthcare, teleco, pick your industry of choice.

Fundamentally, you're building digital experiences, right? For your employees, for your partners, distributors, resellers, customers, so that you're easier to do business with. And CPQ is right smack in the middle of that. Many customers, many of our clients, use CPQ to enable their sales reps. They also use CPQ to enable their partners. And again, depending on the industry, that could be a reseller, a VAR, a distributor whatever that might be. And so CPQ is going to be helping these clients be easier to do business with by empowering their employees or empowering the partners. 

But before you even get into that, you have to talk about well, where is the market heading? Right? Why are you going to be enabling your reps right now? Why do you need to be easier to do business with? 

And for me personally, I subscribe to many different types of economic news sources. One of my favorites is ITR. ITR is a leading indicator source, they use leading indicators to define where they think the economy is going. They've been pretty spot on for the last decade I've been using them. Their numbers show they're about 98 to 99% accurate, unless there's kind of an existential shock. 

And so in the latest read out that we got just a few weeks ago, ITR is predicting, you know, kind of straight to the chase, that we're going to have robust growth in the United States over the next three years. So 2022, 2023, 2024, B2B is going to be showing robust growth, not only in North America, but worldwide potentially. 

Now, there might be some trends that might throw some hiccups, right? We're seeing what's happening in China right now. But the macroeconomic story holds. Low interest rates and a lot of money printing. 

Now, we don't need to go on in terms of what that looks like for the end of the decade. They're not as bullish by the end of the decade. But if the economy is going to be growing, then we need to be prepared as customers and service providers to take advantage of that growth.

So let me just show you a couple of things here. So 2021, if you take a look at these monthly trends and leading indicators, you can show that the leading indicators right now which predict out eight months are showing really, really nice improvements in the production side of the economy. 

So we've already seen the retail side go through the roof, right? Money being sent out, checks being sent out, the demand side of the equation at the consumer level has been really high. And we know that that's a leading indicator for the B2B manufacturing distribution space. So retail is a leading indicator for B2B. So we're seeing that across the board.

If you take a look at ITR’s leading indicators that they look at: sales indicators, financial indicators, the global PMI, the G7, everything is on the rise. So we might be a little concerned because the stock market's gone crazy. And you know, asset prices are through the roof, inflation could be an issue. Those are all true statements. But the reality is, the macroeconomic story still holds, low rates, a lot of printing, which means that again, over the next two to three years, you're going to see incredible growth. 

Just a couple more here across different industries, right? Nondefense capital, good orders, excluding aircrafts, showing leading indicator growth of nine-and-a-half percent, you're looking at gross domestic product change to $2,012 surpassing where we were and continuing to grow in 2022. And they're predicting that out through 23 and 24. 

Non-private construction lending. So this is non-residential. So commercial buildings, even with people working more from home, again, all the leading indicators are moving towards growth. 

So, I've got more screens, but I'm going to pause for a second because this is what really matters. The reason that we are so bullish, and we're having this conversation today on CPQ, or empowering your sales reps, or empowering your partners to sell more is because demand is going to continue to grow over the next 36 months by all accounts of what we're seeing here in North America. 

And so if you're not making yourself easier to do business with, and others are, you're going to get a lower piece of that pie. You're going to grow organically. But fundamentally speaking, if you're not, if you're not easy to do business with to take advantage of this growth, you're going to be missing out on a once-in-a lifetime opportunity. Because who knows what's going to happen four or five, six years from now, when all of this printing and all this stuff catches up with us. 

So we've got an opportunity over the next three years, Sarah, to really help our clients capture this growth. And CPQ is an enabling solution to sales reps and partners in order to do that.

Sarah: Great, well, thank you. And this leads nicely to our first myth. I wanted to do a quick poll of our audience asking, you know, where are you struggling right now with CPQ, and then we'll jump into our first myth, which is, you know, CPQ is going to be too expensive and too time consuming. 

So as we're balancing out all of this economic growth, where does CPQ fit into the mix of spend and opportunity? But let me get everyone's thoughts here first. So, you can pick as many as you want to share where you're struggling currently with your CPQ. 

Ken: Yeah, again, I was just gonna pile on, you know, while we're talking about what we're seeing, right now, you know, I think from our side we're seeing, I'd say three trends. 

Number one is a lot of companies that, you know, going into the pandemic, they already had a commerce environment, they were selling simple goods, right? Green, red, extra large, whatever it may be. And that worked, because for the more complex selling, they were still able to accomplish that in person through a reseller, something like that.

Well, obviously, with the way everything changed, now we're seeing a lot of our customers that are now wanting to bring some of those configured goods that have a lot of dependencies and a lot of complexity to it, and expose those in their commerce site. And they simply can't do it with what they have today. And so you know, we're seeing that.

We're also seeing this trend of moving to, you know, we'll call it anything as a service, right? The days of a one time sale, and then walking away, we're really seeing those things, you know, end. And I don't care what you buy today, there's some kind of monthly plan that goes along with it as well. And so you have a lot of businesses that are also going through that process right now, trying to figure out what can we monetize, to get this recurring, whether it's monthly, quarterly, annual revenue. But what it's really pointing to is the fact that CPQ for so long was looked at as a sales enablement tool, it's really grown to be so much more than that now, right? Where it's really this middle office piece that's going to enable so many different things, right? Whether it's that configuration of your more complex goods to expose it to a website, if it's setting up your different subscription terms, payment terms, whatever it may be, to be able to start capitalizing on that recurring revenue, or if it's starting to use this as almost a middleware tool for punching out to a lot of different, you know, a lot of different systems.

You know, Rohit brought up the diagram of how the demand is going up. And a lot of our customers are struggling right now with being able to accurately quote the lead time to actually get the product in the people's hands. And so, leveraging a tool like CPQ to bring in more of those ancillary systems, they're gonna start painting a better picture. We're seeing all of that happening right now. So I would wager that a lot of the folks are going to be checking boxes on this; I would be surprised if they're only checking one.

Sarah: Yep, and that's what we're seeing. So I can share, thanks everyone, we got a bunch of votes. And what we're seeing is the biggest struggle sort of from biggest to smallest is, you know, performance speed. That is our top, followed by user experience.

33% say that they're struggling with back end integration, then, you know, they can't handle the code complexity, and finally, the the smallest one which is a testament to everyone who's participating on the call is you know, 16% say their biggest struggle is internal adoption and usage, which I think everyone should be lauded for, because we know that that's that's a hard hurdle as well.

So thanks everyone for your participation.

So we'll go on to our myth, right, that the first myth that moving to enterprise CPQ is going to be too expensive and too time consuming. Ken, I’ll let you take the jump on this one.

Ken: I would wager that it's too expensive not to. You know, just with all of the challenges and everything that we've talked about,  there are companies out there that are figuring this out. That took advantage of this downtime, or maybe they were already in process, but they took advantage of this time to modernize and do the things that we're talking about doing. 

When you start looking at some of the stats out there, I think they say 60-70% of people have done the research before they even pick up the phone and call you. You know, the stat that comes out from inside sales that basically says that the first rat to the cheese wins the business. Or, meaning the company that can turn that quote around faster, can get it out to the business. I don't know if there's a better time to do it.

And I think that the that the folks that continue to spin their wheels with ‘good enough is good enough,’ or whatever it may look like, are going to find themselves in a world of hurt, catching up with the other businesses that are taking advantage of this time to leverage what we like to refer to as total commerce, which is CPQ and the commerce together to provide that buy anywhere experience whenever you want to, however you want to. It's critical to do it. So I would go back and say, I don't know if you can afford to not do it right now. 

Rohit: Yeah, I mean spot on, I guess I will just kind of fall on that gravy train, Ken, and really talk about expenses, all the concepts. 

For me, it's relative to value. And so, it's not so much about how expensive it is, or how time consuming it is, because it doesn't have to be. I mean, in absolute terms even, it could be relatively inexpensive as far as enterprise software goes, but the value is immense. And the ROI usually is less than a year if done correctly, because you can do this iteratively. 

So let's just talk about an example. All I hear about everywhere right now, Ken, is subscriptions, I need to grow my revenue. And I need to think outside the box and I either want to have recurring sales of my off-the-shelf products, or I want to be able to sell my services on top of my manufactured goods as a subscription, I want to sell software on top of my manufactured goods as subscription, I want to sell the the maintenance as a subscription, and a lot of people are struggling with how to do that, because subscription is complex stuff, right? 

You've got regular revenue recognition, you've got the tie into different kinds of configurations, you've got it being a living asset, if you need to be able to add more products to the subscription, if you need to be able to take it away, billing, all that stuff, right? Well, how do you enable subscriptions? If you don't have CPQ? It's really, really hard if you're a mid-market to upscale enterprise level manufacturer, or financial services, or healthcare, or telco.

Having all your complex configurations, your pricing and your quoting in your ERP, or in spreadsheets, is basically a no-go for being able to enable subscriptions, unless you're going to kind of kludge it together. And that's not a sustainable solution for the future. So, your fastest path to be able to do subscriptions, and again, I'm just giving one example here, is to first get those complex configurations and those complex pricings out of those older systems, and into a tool that was built to host it, to manage it, to maintain it, to augment it, and grow with your business. 

And then, you know, Oracle's got a phenomenal subscription cloud product that just sits right on top of it. And so when the conversation comes up, “it's too expensive” or “it’s too time consuming,” again, if you want to be easy to do business with, you really don't have a lot of choices here if you have a business of any kind of complexity. 

Now, I'll also quickly touch on what Sarah mentioned, that hey, we need to be able to do change management, where we can integrate these new user experiences into our existing processes. Spot on, you know, you have to so everyone that's having issues with that, that's a complex thing that needs to get done. But that's with any enterprise software, the user experience - spot on, you've got to design the right user experience. 

But these things are no longer as hard as they used to be to do. This isn't 2012, where many of these CPQ products are coming up, and kind of revolutionizing the way that people are handling their complex, quoting and pricing and configuration. In 2021 and 2022, there's been a ton of advancements in the ability to create custom user experiences in order to make sure that complex processes are already built in so that you don't need to heavily customize the software, and then therefore the change management pieces become easier. 

So kind of a long winded answer, but there's a lot there. And the ROI is just phenomenal. 

Ken: Yeah, Rohit, one thing I would add to that is, well, I've had the benefit over my almost 15 years of selling here at Oracle to sell our European applications or CX applications. And now sitting here in the CPQ space, and the thing that excites me the most about this product is talking to our customers. Because having sold the other products, you know, and I don't care what software vendor you are, you're always leading with very compelling metrics of the improvement that this product has brought to your business. 

And the exciting thing for me with CPQ is it's the first product that I've worked with that is bringing direct benefit to the customers, right? I remember, the first customer I ever sat down with it was a med device company. Six years ago, when I started selling the product and asked him, what's the impact to your business? And they said, “Well, you know, our industry grows at a 2 to 3% clip, we're going to three and a half to 4% clip. And we attribute that excessive growth directly to CPQ.” 

And that's just one customer. I mean, we have countless stories like that, that to your point about the ROI, Rohit, really start to build back to a much faster path to ROI than some of the other products will be because it's directly contributing to the revenue, right? And, you know, we're going to talk about UI a little bit later. But for the folks out there that are talking about struggling with adoption, with a UI that adoption thing often go hand in hand. And I know that that's a subject that we're going to get into a little bit later. But yeah, look, I guess I would put a pin in this one and say, there aren't a whole lot of products out there that are going to bring the hard, quantifiable and justifiable ROI that a CPQ project is going to bring.

Sarah: Great. Great. There's a lot there. Thank you both. So we're going to hop to our myth two, and myth two is you know, I can't use Oracle CPQ because my other platforms aren't Oracle. So where do we go from here?

Ken: Well, I'll take it from the sales guy perspective first, right? We've been doing CPQ since I believe 1990, right? Oracle CPQ started as Big Machines, one of the pioneers in the space. And, you know, we've got productized integration to whether it's you know, the Oracle Sales Cloud, it's salesforce.com, or Microsoft. But we've also integrated to a number of other CX applications on the front end. 

And on the back end, I know we're up over, I think 30 different ERP systems that we've integrated to, I think our largest, you know, one of our largest product projects that a customer had to do was integrating to 11 different ERPs. I mean, I can't even fathom, you know, what that diagram looked like. But yeah, I mean, 11 different ERPs at one time. 

And so, guys, you know, I would like to think of one of the things that Oracle is known for is being a data company and a database company, right? And we put a ton of emphasis on making sure that that information flows from CPQ to your back end, because, you know, a really snazzy UI is great. But if you've got no way to get your data from a quote, back into recognizing the revenue, you know, in the proper system, what good are you doing? And so I think that that's a myth that we can easily, easily bust. Just by, you know, talking about the long list of customers that we have, you know, when you think about the fact that Salesforce’s largest customers are doing CPQ with us.

You know, I'd say probably still 65 to 70% of our user base is integrating to Salesforce on the front end, because of our deep history with Salesforce. And then you bring in our ERP expertise between JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, EBS and now the fusion suite of applications, not to mention the countless customers that we have that are doing this with SAP in the backend, this is an easy one to bust.

Rohit, you can talk about it from the you know, from the architecture, and you know, the implementation perspective. 

Rohit: Yeah, same thing, most of our customers have either Salesforce CPQ, or Salesforce CRM, or Microsoft Dynamics. So, you know, right off the bat, it's just not a fact that you have to have an Oracle complete eBusiness Suite or suite of applications in order to implement CPQ well.

The thing that a lot of us forget, when we're evaluating these products - first of all, look, all these products are successful, because they do something good, right? So I'm not here to say that, you know, Oracle CPQ is the only game in town. But the reality is, I think it's important to recognize what you're trying to achieve. 

And so, if we agree, we, you know, let's just say Ken, and you work for Oracle, but let's put it right on the table that when it comes to CRM, you know, Salesforce has market dominance. And let's also put it right on the table that Oracle CPQ used to be called something called Big Machines. And Big Machines used to be an independent platform that used to integrate with Salesforce all the time. 

So the DNA and the back end architecture of Oracle CPQ, as an independent platform, it went after being able to integrate with Salesforce CRM really, really well. And that's why we have no problem integrating it into Salesforce CRM, the data models and all the pre built integrations and the data architecture is all there. 

For the parts that you talked about, you know, executing these user flows, there's these user stories of end to end, you know, quote to cash type of models. So that’s right off the bat. The other thing I think that's really important to understand, though, when you're talking about data integration and architecture, is that if you take a look at most B2B organizations, again, I'm talking mid market enterprise, they're all going to have CRM, but they're also all going to have ERP. 

And what you really want is if you, again, if you have any type of complexity, you want a CPQ solution that natively integrates with both. Now, Oracle then is really the biggest game in town other than SAP as it relates to ERP solutions. And when you're really looking at that Oracle CPQ then suite, I think it excels in two areas, one of these native integrations with not only Oracle back office, but then also things like Salesforce CRM.

And then second is it was always known and continues to hold their kind of top right type of place, and being able to have the configurability to meet the most complex organizations’ needs. So if you have really complex bombs, build materials, if you have complex order flows, if you have complex configurations, Oracle's CPQ is still the gold star.

And now with some of the more recent releases with the Jet UI, and the ability to build it, either headless user interfaces or leverage Jet UI to build more modern experience flows, it really has kind of catapulted it to the only game in town, I think, if you have complex scenarios and want to build easy to use user interfaces. 

So I know we're going to talk about UI a little bit later. But from an architecture side, that's what we're seeing - SteelBrick, phenomenal product built directly to sit on top of the SteelBrick. Even though it used to be non-Salesforce, SteelBrick was started, and was only built to sit on top of the Salesforce data model. So it's not really built to sit on top of any other kind of CRM. So, when you take a look at SteelBrick, as it's built to sit on top of the Salesforce CRM, it's supposed to handle a very kind of narrow purview of what CPQ is supposed to do. And if you have that purview, you’ve got to look at it, I’ve got to say that, but if you have a broader purview, or you're trying to integrate it with a complex back end systems, like an ERP, like a PIM, for example, it wasn't really designed and built for that. 

And that's why, again, both back in the day before the acquisitions, and today, the Oracle CPQ product, I think, remains number one in being able to manage complex configurations and workflows. I think the interesting thing about this product is, I don't know if we've got another product in our suite that does a better job of really describing the shift that even Oracle has taken in applications integration, right? Because I remember, I remember seeing a quote from Larry, back in the late 90s, early 2000s. 

That said, something along the lines of best of breed is great for dog shows. But I don't think it has a place in enterprise software. Well, fast forward 20 years later, and again, I think, the CPQ application, I mean, we used to have one of our messaging lines that was integrated yet independent, right? So now if you are a best of breed shot, that, you know, your tradition is going out and buying the best CRM product, the best CPQ product, the best commerce product, the best ERP product, whatever it may be, we can handle that. And it's a huge shift for us.

Sarah: Great, so, and I think this links to our next myth, which is, you know, okay, there's all this, there are all these capabilities, they're all these strings, they're all right, they can handle all of this complexity. And I know, we were talking about, you know, building in 2012, but the myth really is, you know, CPQ will look and feel like the 90s. You know, I'll do this huge project above novice capabilities. But what I'll have will still feel a little clunky, a little dated, and I know, Rohit, you have some visuals to share to help. Help talk us down off of this ledge.

Rohit: Yeah, look, again, it's all about leveraging modern frameworks to be able to deliver, and deliver easier, what the businesses of today need. So, with the more modern Jet UI of Oracle CPQ, you can deliver some really, really nice user experiences. 

But it's more than look and feel, right? I mean, Kelly Rader, our head of DXM, if she was in this call, she would talk about this conversation, and Sergio, who's our head of user experience, they would talk about the fact that any user experience needs to be kind of geared towards who's using it, and what are the actual flows that they're trying to accomplish. And you're trying to make those flows as easy as possible to use.

And so I've got some screens I can show you guys, our wireframes really, because you know, privacy concerns, we can’t actually show the real screens. But these are actual, you know, with name scrubbing and whatnot, screens that we built out on the more modern CPQ platform. So let me show you, I’ll share my screen here.

Rohit: So you know, more modern CPQ, just checkout experiences that you might be used to, right. So if you're a sales rep, this is an example for a sales rep. And you want to build a quote, for example, a traditional circa 2012 CPQ screen wouldn't look anything like this. And now when you're looking at modern journeys, you want to be able to forecast what the journey is going to look like on every screen. So you can see here, what we've been able to do and CPQ has shown that right up here. 

If you're going to be building a quote, you're first going to be collecting your customer info or loading it. You're going to be looking at your product catalog to add to a quote, you're going to be creating a contract. You're going to be looking over the overall costs, you're gonna look at the overall info, you're gonna look at the credit, and you're gonna look at the quote details, you're going to send it out, right? 

So that's forecasting what the flow looks like for this particular client. So you might be, you know, the customer info that's gonna be loaded up from some back end system, it could be loaded up from a CRM, like Salesforce, or Microsoft Dynamics, or Sales Cloud from Oracle, all the customer info is just automatically loaded up. 

Once that integration is there, you'll be bringing in the different types of billing accounts payable, who is going to be going to all those addresses can be pre loaded. And, and you're going to get this really nice kind of UI to be able to talk about, “Alright, these are my customers.” You can also bring in here, you can see that this particular client does have Subscription Cloud. So they're gonna be able to bring in current subscription information, right? What are the active subscriptions? What are the expired subscriptions? Is there a reseller that they want to give credit to etc.

Then, once you've entered the customer info - I'm just going to quickly fly through this - you're going to be able to load product details, right, you're gonna build your quote. So you might be able to, you know, select through a drop down, you could also have more of a traditional eCommerce type of look, that would be something like this, again, no pictures loaded. But right, you could have, you know, faceted. So you could, within the CPQ itself show a faceted shopping experience, what we call a PLP - a product listing page - you can have experiences again, if it's a traditional kind of a manufacturer, you'd have this more traditional quick order type of screen; you can also have both.

Here's another example of a configurable screen, right, so maybe you not only want to select off the skew products, but you want to add configurations, you want to talk about mandatory parts, recommended parts, all these kinds of product details can percolate through. After you add everything to your quote, unquote, quote, pun intended, you're going to be able to go to - I'm going to jump around here - your contract info, alright? So again, this is going to be all loaded potentially from your ERP, your back end contracting, or it could be within the CPQ itself.

And you're gonna have your contract number, the contract ID modifier numbers. Again, these are very, very specific to specific clients. You could even have different kinds of contract layouts and templates. So if a specific product means a specific type of contract, you could specify all those, and again, very easy to use them. 

I'm talking less about the functionality of CPQ here in the user experience, so that this particular client’s employees were complaining that they have to go all over the place to put this information in. So we were able to design with our user experience team a really nice elegant workflow for them to have a very clean linear type of quoting process, quote to cash process, so that their jobs are easier, they're going to now be easier to do business with because they don't have to go to 30 different screens to create a quote, once they've filled out all the contract info, you'll be able to jump to the cost summary. 

You'll see here a cost summaries, right, it'll have all the different products, any kind of discounts that you want to show, taxes, freight contracts, or price exceptions, etc. You can add discounts here. Again, that's a feature of CPQ. But here's a very easy way of showing it to your sales reps. Once you're done there, you're going to jump to the actual confirmation of the order. So you know, what's our purchase order number, any kind of documents that you put in there from a purchase order document, to an ordering document, any kind of shipping freighting. Any kind of one liner flags that you have to have any kind of this is a large contract. Again, these are very specific to this client, they need to be able to specify these things for their particular workflows that kick off downstream flows and user experiences for shipping and supply chain.

From the order info, then, again, we're just following along from the top here, you're going to go to the credit UI. Here, you're going to be saying, “Okay, what sales reps are going to get credit? What percentage of the credit they're going to receive.” So again, CPQ does allow for that kind of revenue, the commission recognition piece. 

And then finally, you're going to have your final quote - oops, sorry about that. Oh, of course, I lost it here. Let me see if I can go back. Well, I don't want to belabor the point to log in again. But I would have just been able to show the final order UI and the quote UI before the quote goes out. 

The point being, that this does not look like your traditional, you know, grandfather of CPQ screen, right? What we're really trying to get across here is that leveraging modern experiences, leveraging the right user research, you can really develop nice, easy screens for sales reps. You can also expose the CPQ to your distributors and your partners so they could have a very similar experience. And I think Sarah, you said it was the second most common or the second biggest complaint but the user experience. 

So, I hope you can see now that with the more modern CPQ architecture, as as Oracle revamps, a lot of these architectures should be more modern with headless UIs or with their own Jet UI within where CPQ itself is serving up the screens, you can have some really, really awesome user experiences. 

But I would say that, that doesn't mean that the user experience is just going to, quote unquote, create themselves, right? You've got to invest the time in asking your sales reps and creating those personas, or talking to distributors about what is their flow, what will make their lives easier design it, and then very quickly translate that to a software package like Oracle CPQ.

Ken: I think you could almost argue, you know, that with the new UI that we released a few years ago that you’ve actually got more flexibility with our product than with a lot of the competitors out there. I mean, Rohit showed you one flavor of what a CPQ can look like. If we were to show our internal instance, it looks nothing like that. And if we were to show you another customer instance, it looks nothing like that.

And so, I really do like the options that we’re offering customers now. Whether you want to go headless, whether you want to leverage Jet UI, it really opens up the possibilities so that once done correctly, the user adoption issue should go away for you, because you’re doing this with some thoughts in mind, some planning, you know, of what’s going to work for your people.

Sarah: Yep. And I think, you know, we’re seeing that customer journey really changing on this side of your sales reps, where they might not be sitting at a desk with a phone to their right, they might be on the road, they might be at home. So it really changes what that UI needs to look like to best enable your sales team.

Ken: And that’s a great point, Sarah, because it’s something that we didn’t really touch on. But I think that it’s the power of develop it once, deploy it multiple times. So, giving you the ability to set up your configuration rules and everything else that not only your insider seller is going to use, but your resellers, and potentially even your customers, but also for your sellers, whether they’re doing that from their laptop, from their iPad, or from their iPhone or their Android phone, having that responsive design to be able to fit into whatever device you’re working from, I think is crucial as well. 

And being able to design different user experiences depending on the channel that they’re going to come in through is critical as well, because of that user adoption thing. If you don’t really focus on user adoption for your internal sellers, in a lot of cases, you’ve forgotten about a huge majority of your buying audience, whether it’s through resellers or your direct customers, and so that’s where working with a firm like you guys is so crucial to making sure that you’re putting that thought in. 

Sarah: Yeah. That makes sense. 

I have one more poll to share with everyone, which is we are all kind of talking around, which is, you know, the revenue question. So for your business, where are you seeing the revenue? Is your CPQ revenue bigger, is eCommerce bigger, are you not there yet on either of those fronts?

So I look forward to your responses and then Rohit and Ken, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the revenue opportunities. I know Rohit, you touched on subscription and sort of how CPQ builds a foundation for building subscriptions. And Ken, you also talked about the clearer revenue increases you’ve seen with CPQ launch.

OK, alright, well interesting responses so far. 

Ken: I think this one will be interesting to see, because my gut is that there will be people telling us that there’s a larger chunk coming from their non-commerce than their commerce site, especially in a manufacturing company that’s focusing on B2B.

And then I would wager that if done correctly, even as your eCommerce revenue grows, well the amount of revenue that’s coming through your CPQ tool is going to grow, too, so my gut is that CPQ is probably going to be the bigger slice of that, I could be wrong.

Rohit: Yeah. I would say it’s not an either or, it’s an and. None of our customers that have commerce, again, on the B2B side, don’t have CPQ. I mean, they have it. And commerce leverages the CPQ instance to deliver the configurations, to deliver the pricing. If we’re putting in a UI on the front end, instead of buying a product to just generate a quote, that’s all done from a UX standpoint from the commerce instance, but it’s feeding back into the CPQ instance to deliver a lot of that data, because what’s the alternative? 

The alternative is that we’re going to have to custom build something on top of someone’s spreadsheets, we’re going to have to custom build something on top of someone’s ERPs, because those ERPs, unless you’ve migrated to an ERP cloud, don’t have the APIs. So you’re going to have to first invest in building a layer in between commerce and your ERP to expose the content as services, and that’s going to require quite a bit of work. 

And so what we’ve found for people, rather than invest and build up that services layer to expose those services from an ERP and maintain them, they’re like, well, you know what, this is not the right place for me to maintain this information anyway. I’ll move into a CPQ. I’ll start generating revenue and quote revenue from my CPQ instance. And then when I’m ready to expose this to customers, or potentially to distributors and resellers, or other partners, so that they can buy directly from us without interfacing directly with a rep, they could log into that commerce instance. 

And I’ll say one more thing on this. Here’s what we’ve seen. The conversation isn’t about moving from full service to self service. None of my clients, nor would I recommend this, are trying to not have any interaction with their customers. Their businesses are too complex to do everything online. 

It’s about how do you seamlessly jump from full service to self service back to full service. It’s this constant play, it’s this constant dance, that if you run a B2B enterprise, and you’re working with resellers or you’re working with clients, there’s going to be certain things that they want to do just online, they don’t want to talk to anybody. I want to reorder a part, I want to very quickly understand what parts I need for my machine. They might not want to talk to somebody about that, they might want to just go online, log in, “When was my last service? When is my next service due?,” all that stuff can be either exposed through a CPQ or commerce instance. Other clients are going to want to talk to somebody, and they’re going to say, “Hey, can you quickly spin up a quote for me for this really complex configuration that I need.” 

And that’s where, again, we’re saying that you need to empower your organization with user experience for sales reps, for resellers, and for customers in order to be able to do this. And again, the CPQ piece is right smack in the middle of it.

CPQ is necessary for empowering your sales reps, to better create these quotes really quickly, and then for the organization to move that through the supply chain. It’s critical for your partners, because if your sales reps can’t do it, then your partners can’t do it, and your partners are going to need the same capabilities. And it’s critical for your customers in case you’re going to be exposing an eCommerce instance or subscriptions, because you’re not going to be tying that back into your ERP, or your spreadsheets, you’re going to be tying that back into CPQ as well. It’s a common, kind of foundational piece, that’s going to empower revenue growth across all your different personas: sales reps, partners, and customers. 

Ken: Well Rohit, we were wrong, because eCommerce revenue was the winner in this poll. 

Rohit: Yeah, OK, well for me, though, Ken, a lot of people don’t look at CPQ as the revenue, they look at it as an enabler. Right, so a lot of people aren’t actually allowing purchases through CPQ. They’re just creating quotes and the revenue recognition comes not from CPQ itself, versus eCommerce is very simple, collect my credit card.

So I would be really interested in learning for the people that are saying that they’re not getting CPQ revenue, is it because they don’t have CPQ, or is it because they don’t recognize, and you don’t place the order in CPQ itself, the order comes in through a different solution?

Sarah: Yeah, really interesting. And feel free to follow up in the chat, in the questions box. So, I think we have time for a couple of questions. If anyone wants to ask, you can respond in that little questions box or the chat box. We will try to get to yours, but if we don’t, we will follow up with you directly. 

So, first question to come in: “Should we do CPQ all in one go?” And you know, I’ve heard you both say it can be C then P then Q, it can be P then Q then C, you can build this how you want. But what are some of the pros and cons to CPQ all in one push or doing something more iteratively? 

Ken: So that’s a great question. I guess I’ll take it from the Oracle side. You know, we have a number of customers that obviously are using the C, the P, and the Q. But, folks, we have a fair number of customers that say, you know, we’re going to start with the C. We’re going to leave our pricing and quoting in another system right now, move that in at a later time.

We’ve got other customers that they’re big use case for leveraging CPQ is for managing pricing agreements. There’s not a whole lot of configuration that comes on, and there’s really not a whole lot of quote output that comes on, but they’ve got specific pricing agreements set up for different vendors and need a good way to track that. 

So, I had this conversation with a customer earlier in the week, and they were asking the same question. And my question back to them was where’s the fire burning the hottest right now? Right, because the beauty of CPQ is you don’t have to take it all on at one time, and so address that fire that’s burning brightest first, and move the other pieces in once you get that fire under control. 

Rohit, you want to add anything to that?

Rohit: Yeah, for me the answer is, it depends. It’s so dependent on the specific organization in terms of whether they need to do a big bang, or it can be iterative. 

I would say that you can have value from both ways. So what does it depend on? A lot of it depends on how modern is your overall architecture already. Are you going to be using it for integration, are you going to be using it for pricing, are you going to be using it for quoting? Because if like Ken mentioned, you don’t have highly configurable products, but you just want to do light configuration, then you can start with just managing all your pricing contracts and all your kind of complexities on who gets what price and where the discount flows, and all that kind of good stuff. 

But if you already have all that, and maybe you’re fine with wherever all that pricing is and you just want a much easier quoting tool so that you can go quote to cash faster, well then you can tie into your pricing and bring that in later. 

So yeah, Sarah, I apologize that I can’t give a more granular answer. It’s just that it’s so dependent on the organization, on what they’re trying to achieve by when, what their ROI targets are, what’s the burning fire that they’re trying to solve, where are they going to see their growth coming from over the next 3 years, you know, kind of taking this full circle to our conversation this morning.

But yeah, we’re happy to have that conversation if someone’s got some specifics. And we can definitely follow up with them on it.

Sarah: Great. I think we have time for one more: “How do we measure ROI on our CPQ project?”

Rohit: I’ll give you a great example of one. I think there’s a handful of KPIs that you can look at. Again, I’ll just give two examples. If you’re using CPQ because you’re trying to lessen the burden on your sales reps, then a very easy way of measuring ROI if that was your use case, if that was the burning business need - I need to empower my sales reps to be easier to do business with - it’s just simply looking at their productivity and efficiency. 

So you don’t even actually have to look at are they selling more? You can take a look at their efficiency and how much time they’re spending on building quotes. We had a customer that within one quarter showed $2 million of ROI. How did they measure it? They said, “OK, today our sales reps spend anywhere from 3-4 hours to generate a quote.” After the implementation it took them about on average 30 minutes. 

So they’re like, “Alright, if our average sales rep makes X amount, and they’re creating this many quotes a quarter, and they’re saving this much . . .” They came up with a number of $2 million dollars in just that quarter of time saved, allowing the sales rep to then be freed up to work on larger sales pursuits, to invest more time into building relationships with their customers, and to quite frankly, have a much better response time to their clients. So, if they’re trying to generate 6 quotes, and they know each quote is going to take them 3-4 hours, and they’re going all over the place, those clients that are waiting for quotes, they’re getting impatient, right? So, that’s one.

I’m not going to go into that much detail for the other ones, but you could definitely look at revenue output, if you’re actually generating revenue from your CPQ. You could take a look from a technology standpoint if you’re a CIO or a CTO and you’re implementing CPQ, given the amount of resources and support tickets that you’re having to respond to, because your contracts or your pricing or your ERP are Excel spreadsheets, and as an organization, the amount of time it’s taking you to service those, maintain those, keep those up to date, and then measuring how much less time you’re using once CPQ’s installed, that, again, efficiency and productivity gains can be measured. 

So it’s not just revenue. A lot of the CPQ ROI is generated in productivity gains and efficiency gains that as long as you know what problem you’re trying to solve before you go in, you can measure what you’re doing now, you can measure how it turns out after, and you can measure that ROI.

Ken: Yeah, a couple other ones that come to mind, you know, number one, tracking attach rates of cross-sell, upsell stuff before CPQ, after CPQ. That’s a reason a lot of customers come to us, because they feel like they are leaving money on the table by not adding value-adding products to the bill of materials.

I think another one that we haven’t talked about today but is a critical one is your margins. One of the things that we’ve historically seen is that a lot of times folks make decisions based on, is this a good discount for what we’re offering based on what we gave to them in the past? So if we always gave them a 65% discount, then let’s give them a 65% discount, or we have a tough time winning in this industry, so we have to race to the bottom to win here. 

And with some of the improvements that we’ve made leveraging AI and machine learning, you’ve now got some detail that’s going to tell you, OK, yeah, look, you can win this still with a 65% discount, but history tells us based on geographic region or product set or the customer that 53% gives you the same opportunity as winning as 65%. So being able to start looking in at margin control. 

And then, the other two that I would say is tracking how many quotes you have to redo because of errors. Whether it’s the wrong product mix, you left a part or component off there, you’ve got the wrong pricing, whatever it may be, a lot of customers we work with are spending an inordinate amount of time coming back and doing rework on quotes that they’ve already done.

And then the final one that I would say is look at your time to revenue. One of the things that we a lot of times is that you bring that new person on, it takes them however long it takes to finally get that customer that’s ready to come to the altar and say “I do” and now it’s time to build that quote, but all this tribal knowledge that you need is stored in the heads of people. 

And so for one of our customers, one of the big, compelling reasons to move forward was reducing that time to revenue, because now you’re taking this tribal knowledge and these best practices that your senior sellers just have in their heads, and now you’re putting it into the application leveraging things like guided selling and those kinds of things to push a customer down the right way, hopefully shortening the amount of time it’s going to take for them to sign that first order document.

So those are just a couple others that you can consider when you’re trying to figure out how are we going to gauge the success of this project.

Sarah: Awesome. Well, we’re right at time, thank you both, thanks Ken, thanks Rohit. You can find us all on LinkedIn, I will be following up from this webinar with a video on demand so you can reach out to me at anytime, just reply to that email. When this webinar is over in just a minute, you’ll receive a short survey. We’d really appreciate you taking 30 seconds to share your feedback. 

And with that, thanks everyone for joining. Thanks Ken, thanks Rohit. 

About the Author

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Sarah Falcon

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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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