Salesforce CPQ or Standard Quotes: Which Should You Choose?

Salesforce CPQ (formerly Steelbrick) is pretty direct about what it does. It configures, prices and quotes things. It’s right in

6 min. read

Salesforce CPQ (formerly Steelbrick) is pretty direct about what it does. It configures, prices and quotes things. It’s right in the name, like cufflinks. Or a Shake Weight.

But Salesforce CPQ’s name doesn’t answer every single question: What does it configure? How does it price? What quoting functionality does it provide? Is it worth the cost?

And that last one lingers on customers’ minds as they think about implementing the solution. They know that standard Salesforce Sales Cloud offers some quoting functionality, and they want to understand what CPQ provides beyond standard features. That’s the purpose of this blog. Below, I’ll detail what you get with standard quoting, how CPQ surpasses those offerings and how to know whether Salesforce CPQ or standard quotes are right for you.

Salesforce CPQ or Standard Quotes: Which Selling Solution Do You Need?

Standard Salesforce quoting features

You can accomplish more with standard Salesforce quoting than you think. With the right setup and a little customization, standard functionality (Professional Edition and above) can take you a long way. Its features include:

  • Basic quoting functionality – Out of the box, Sales Cloud quoting lets you sync quotes with opportunities so that it maintains an up-to-date price and quantity on both records. Now, that doesn’t mean you can only have one quote on a deal. You can preserve a whole history of quotes for an opportunity. You just need to designate which is the synced quote (which one you’re currently discussing with the customer). Salesforce then syncs only that quote’s information with the opportunity. But if you want to revert to an earlier quote, you can quickly mark that one as the “synced quote” to move forward with it.
  • Pricing – List pricing is the name of the game here. For each product, you have to set a discrete price: $50 for Product X, $199 for Product Y, etc. But Sales Cloud does offer some flexibility here; your team can set separate list prices for the same product in different price books. You can maintain different price books for nonprofit customers versus for-profits, for example. You can have as many price books as you want, based on any pricing scheme you wish.
  • Discounting – While standard Salesforce doesn’t offer any sort of automatic discounting, you can build your own. You could, for example, build automations that apply discounts at specified volumes. Your reps could also create manual discretionary discounts on any product in the quote. But the simplicity of standard quoting means you can only use one type of discounting on the same product – automatic or discretionary.
  • Bundling – Not offered out of the box. By default, your reps must look through your entire product list to add the options they need to a quote. But you can build some custom bundling logic yourself, like “If a rep selects Product A, automatically include Products X, Y and Z.”
  • Product Validation – Standard validation rules are usually the way to go here. They let you ensure that each product in the bundle meets desired requirements, like that you don’t exceed a specific quantity or end up with a negative price. They’re simple, but can be quite useful.
  • Quote Documents – You can generate PDFs from standard Salesforce quotes. It natively lets you include images and rich text. But these PDF templates definitely lack the flexibility of CPQ’s — more on that later.

The overall trend is that standard functionality provides the tools your reps need to create and generate simple quotes in Salesforce. With a relatively straightforward pricing model, these features may be all you need. But if that all sounds too cookie-cutter for your business, read on.

Salesforce CPQ features

CPQ offers everything mentioned above, plus a significant upgrade across all of the variables I just listed. It combines complex pricing and discounting logic with guided selling features to help your reps sell faster and more accurately. Here’s how:

  • Pricing – List pricing isn’t your only option with CPQ. You can implement cost-based pricing, applying markups that can vary based on account tier, region, industry, anything. Or you can use block pricing to change the price based on scale (think subscription models where 1-10 users cost $50 together, but 11-30 users cost $150 in total)
  • Discounting – Unlike standard quotes, CPQ allows “multi-tiered” discounting. What does that mean? That it not only supports automatic discounting but can also layer automatic and discretionary discounts together. You can also build distributor discounts into CPQ and decide whether they take effect before or after the above deductions. Let’s look at an example. Say a rep makes a quote of 150 widgets. Well CPQ can automatically apply a 10% volume discount because the quote includes more than 100 units. Then, the rep can take off an additional $100 to sweeten the deal. Finally, if selling to a distributor, CPQ can cut off another 20% after all of that.
  • Bundling – CPQ features the ability to build customized product bundles. Not only can you tell CPQ that a particular package must include Products A, B and C; you can also configure bundles so that they need to contain either Product X, Y or Z. Which leads us to…
  • Product Validation – Standard Salesforce validation rules can only check data on one record, but CPQ product rules let you compare information across multiple quote lines to ensure that reps are meeting package-wide criteria. You can check for product compatibility (no selling Smart cars with monster truck wheels), appropriate support for specified offerings (minimum training hours for advanced products) or numerous other requirements.
  • Quote Documents – Here too, CPQ surpasses standard functionality. You can dynamically generate document text or terms and conditions based on which products you choose. Or change up your entire document by using different base templates for various product packages. CPQ’s ability to customize quote PDFs down to their individual words makes for a seamless sales experience.
  • Subscription Management – If your products run on subscription models, (like many tech companies) you know how difficult it is to manage ongoing subscriptions and renewals. CPQ is a lifesaver here, though. It lets you add subscription terms to your products, allowing CPQ to track post-sale subscriptions on your accounts automatically. From that point, amending contracts is easy, because CPQ can dynamically prorate product prices and terms so that the new subscriptions co-terminate with the customer’s existing subscriptions.
  • Customer Connectivity – If you upgrade to Salesforce CPQ+, you can build quoting functionality into a Salesforce customer community to let your clients generate their own quotes online. Or you can create your own quoting tool onto your website with standard CPQ and more in-house development. With either solution, customers can construct product bundles or renew their subscriptions themselves, without needing to contact a sales rep.

In short, you can build some sophisticated selling technology with standard quotes. But it still falls short to Salesforce CPQ across the board. So, if your sales team desires a robust solution with intricate pricing, bundling and quote generation functionality, then CPQ is your best bet.

More questions on whether Salesforce CPQ or standard quotes are a fit for your sales team? Send us a message to see if we can help you find your ideal solution.