Transitioning traditional methods to advanced CPQ Solutions

By Leandi Campher, EXAH Solutions Architect. The transition from spreadsheets, though daunting at first, signals a bold step towards greater efficiency and accuracy in complex sales processes.

By Leandi Campher, EXAH Solutions Architect. Spreadsheets must fall. In businesses with complex pricing structures, diverse product offerings and customers that demand quick and accurate quotes, clinging to spreadsheet-based methods can lead to inefficiencies, errors and lost opportunities.

It is understandable why organisations are attached to their spreadsheets. Constructing them often requires a considerable investment of time and effort, leading to a deep sense of ownership and pride.These spreadsheets aren’t merely practical tools; in many cases, they evolve into intricate, finely-tuned systems that those who use them liken to works of art. The emotional and intellectual investment can make the thought of moving away from them quite daunting.

On a practical level, organisations cling to spreadsheets because they are easy to navigate, are more cost-effective than professional Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) solutions and salespeople who are familiar with them trust their existing calculations. They trust these calculations not necessarily because they are correct or the most effective, but because of a mindset of “we’ve always done it this way”. However, in a fast-evolving business landscape, this mindset risks data integrity and compromises on efficiency and growth potential.

On the other hand, based on our experience, when clients shift to a specialised, more agile solution, they invariably uncover innovative pricing strategies leading to new opportunities for revenue creation. What’s more, in dynamic, multifaceted environments such as CPQ, spreadsheets are prone to human mistakes. Additionally, the lack of scalability and integration with other business systems creates data silos, hindering effective decision-making and collaboration. Moreover, the manual nature of spreadsheets can slow response to market changes, reduce competitive edge and lead to missed opportunities in innovation and customer engagement.


The purpose of a specialised cloud CPQ solution is to quickly and accurately generate personalised price quotes for customers. CPQ applications operate in conjunction with CRM platforms, ERP systems and various other business technologies, which ensures the integration of data and overall accuracy. Price quotes are automated according to a preprogrammed set of rules which are pre-approved by management – which results in significant cost and time savings. When deployed and used correctly, sales reps have reported 10 times faster quote generation, a 95% reduction in approval time and two times faster movement from quote to cash.

The importance of partnering with a seasoned expert for a CPQ implementation cannot be overstated. Given the complex nature of CPQ environments, navigating the intricate maze of sales processes demands meticulous planning and strategic foresight. We’ve guided a range of bold, dynamic organisations, including one of South Africa’s premier banks, a global steel and mining giant and an innovative yet provocative AI facial recognition firm, to implement and make the jump from traditional spreadsheets to an advanced, robust, and highly flexible CPQ solution.

There may be concerns about Salesforce CPQ’s ability to integrate with an organisation’s existing tech stack, which could include a diverse mix of CRM systems, ERP systems, e-commerce platforms, financial software, business intelligence tools, and data warehouses. However, Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft, a leading integration platform, positions Salesforce CPQ uniquely among CPQ solutions. With MuleSoft, Salesforce CPQ is exceptionally equipped to connect various applications, data, and devices across both on-premises and cloud environments. This capability ensures seamless integration and maximises the utility of Salesforce CPQ in diverse technological landscapes.

Cynics may also point to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning as a threat to CPQ. The opposite is, in fact, true. Salesforce has been at the forefront of AI innovation, evidenced by their early investments in the field since 2014, democratising AI through their Einstein AI Platform, strategic collaborations with industry giants such as IBM, and recent proactive advancements in generative AI, highlighting their long-term vision and leadership in integrating AI into their product solutions.

The transition from spreadsheets, though daunting at first, signals a bold step towards greater efficiency and accuracy in complex sales processes. It can open doors to unprecedented levels of innovation, customer engagement, and revenue growth.


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