Done right, CPQ software can empower sales reps to close deals more efficiently and keep customers happy. It can also allow organizations to expand their sales capacities and even introduce new revenue models. 

However, there are many pitfalls that can lead to a CPQ failed implementation. Today, we’re sharing some signs that your company could be headed in the wrong direction and showing you how to get back on track. 

6 Causes of CPQ Project Failure

1. Evaluating Software on Cost Alone

In many cases, executives will give priority to the system that simply offers the lowest licensing costs. You can avoid CPQ failure by, instead, selecting the solution that’s well-suited for your company. 

While your project budget should certainly be top of mind, it shouldn’t override functional fit. The CPQ software you choose should, first and foremost, help you reach your sales goals. In addition, you should feel confident that an experienced and reliable vendor is at the helm.

Leading with dollar signs alone could mean going down the wrong road right from the start. You could end up spending money on a solution that ultimately frustrates your staff and sits unused, leaving your sales needs unmet. 

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2. Selecting Software that’s Misaligned With Your Business Needs

Be aware of vendors who wax poetic about the bells and whistles of their software, without addressing how it’s suitable for your particular company. 

If a vendor focuses on the capabilities of its solution, it should devote equal time to discussing how the solution will address your unique sales challenges. After all, the true measure of a CPQ system isn’t its laundry list of features, but whether it can deliver transformational value to your team. 

Be especially wary of any vendor that tells you that the functionality you need will be available in a future version of their CPQ platform. This could mean that their current solution is ill-fitted for your requirements. It can also signify that the vendor doesn’t fully understand the pain points you’re trying to address. 

3. Jumping Into Pilot Projects Without Understanding the Details

At first, a proof-of-concept (POC) pilot project might sound like a good idea. This is one way that vendors can test their solution against one or more use cases at your company. In theory, it’s a smart way to make sure the solution you select will work for your high-priority, real-life scenarios.

The only problem? Many POC projects are more costly and laborious than they’re worth. Often, they fail to deliver definitive answers that can help you make a buying decision.

If a vendor recommends a POC, make sure they can outline the specific benefits to your company.

4. Forgetting About Systems Integration

A CPQ solution works best when it’s in sync with other types of software, including a CRM platform. Otherwise, you might end up with incomplete or partial data sets, which can lead to supply chain issues or unhappy customers – usually both.

As soon as you begin evaluating CPQ software, think about how it will “speak” to the rest of your systems. In addition to your CRM system, it will also need to communicate with your ERP system and your contract management system.

In your early vendor discussions, we recommend mentioning all the other platforms that you currently have installed, or plan to install in the near future. Data integration problems can be expensive and time-consuming to fix down the road, so it’s best to convey this information as soon as possible. 

5. Implementing Everything at Once

In most cases, we suggest that clients take a phased approach to implementation. Going live with everything at once can deliver quite the shock to your workforce. As a result, they may resist the change, leading to unproductive downtime.

As you bring employees up to speed on new processes and technology, it helps to have a grace period. Implementing functionality in smaller, more manageable stages can help your employees grasp the new system more easily.

Start by going live with the functions that deliver the greatest benefits. As employees learn those at a reasonable pace, they’ll feel more confident and empowered to embrace additional functionality. 

6. Data Inaccuracy

A CPQ solution is only as powerful as the data that drives it. If the information you’re using is incomplete or incorrect in any way, it can negatively affect your sales team’s performance. 

These inaccuracies could then be passed along to your customers. From marketing campaigns to proposals, you need to ensure that everything you send to clients and prospects is accurate and up to date.

You can avoid this issue by establishing clear policies around your data management strategy. Assign process owners and data owners, and make sure everyone knows the steps to follow when updating fields. 

Avoid a CPQ Failed Implementation

A CPQ failed implementation doesn’t have to be on your horizon. By taking the right precautions, you can ensure that the vendor and solution you select will deliver the benefits you expect.

Our team of enterprise software consultants can guide you through software selection and implementation to ensure you avoid the missteps above as well as many others. Our software expert witness experience has taught us many lessons about what leads to failure. Contact us below for a free consultation. 

About the author

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As Director of Panorama’s Expert Witness Practice, Bill oversees all expert witness engagements. In addition, he concurrently provides oversight on a number of ERP selection and implementation projects for manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and public sector clients.

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