29 Jul Salesforce CPQ as an entry point for billing
Quote and billing like chalk and cheese
Do you feel like there is something wrong with your billing process? Repetitive errors in invoices, like wrong billing address, incorrect products and amounts or prices that are not up-to-date sound familiar to you? It may look like there is no correlation between the quotes that were contracted by your sales team and the invoices that were created by the finance team. As a result, money collection is postponed, since all data needs to be repeatedly revised. The consequence is poor cash flow that prevents the growth of your company. If this intro is something that you are familiar with, this article is for you! And so is Salesforce CPQ. Let’s look at how this tool can help you solve billing issues.
Billing process’s main pain points
To begin with, let’s think about how invoicing processing looks like in companies. Most likely there is a dedicated worker that manually creates invoices based on the contract’s white paper. That involves a lot of effort, as he needs to check:
- if the prices were correctly calculated (taking into consideration discounts, block pricing, etc.),
- if the products are available in the quantity quoted;
- if the shipping and mailing addresses are correct and many more.
It might work if you are not selling many goods, but as the company is growing and there are more and more invoices to create with more complex price calculation and legal terms, a single person simply cannot do it. So companies start to hire more people, thinking that more FTE can solve the issue… But it isn’t the case that invoices start to be incorrect or billing errors – like wrong price, products, or quantity – occur.
In the worst cases, companies fail to bill as the invoice reaches the wrong address or is not sent at all. Those cases lead to revenue leakage and bad customer experience. Conscious management of the company observing these problems, after a tough discussion, gives a green light to the implementation of more advanced billing tools and the allocation of more resources to cure the billing process. But unfortunately, the problem still exists… So where is the real source of the issue? The answer is the data and information handed over from the sales team. Let’s see how Salesforce CPQ supports you and enables a smooth transition between the Sales & Finance Teams.
Salesforce CPQ – the ultimate remedy
While this solution certainly helps salespeople create accurate quotes quickly, CPQ’s effects on efficiency are more far-reaching. One of the biggest advantages of CPQ software is that the entire company can be involved. If CPQ is properly implemented, your sales, finance, and legal departments will be able to equally influence product configuration. That means you won’t have salespeople selling configurations that aren’t possible financially or legally.
Salesforce CPQ maintains a downstream connection to the original quote, ensuring alignment along the order management process. Contracted quantities are tracked to prevent over- or under-delivering. Quote specifics are carried through billing and revenue recognition. Every important detail is easily reportable – from quotes and orders to invoices and payments. Salesforce CPQ can easily leverage your process by integrating with the ERP system. This also provides data entry control, as the process is fully automated, so there is no place for errors that may occur in the case of manually transferring the data. Thanks to this solution, the time from signing the contract to receiving money is significantly shortened.
From lead to cash – a happy path
Let’s look at a usual customer lifecycle from lead to cash, for a non-subscription product. Normally, it starts up in the office, creating opportunities, quotes, contracts, and orders. All this happens in Salesforce CPQ. Once that is completed, the data is transferred to the ERP system, which then processes those orders, and generates the invoices exactly reflecting the contracted customer needs, without errors. Then, all you need to do is simply collect payments and eventually create financial reporting if needed. Since the data is consistent across all Salesforce solutions implemented in your company, you can also use the Salesforce engine to create your financial reports and dashboards.
Ok, that was the easy part. Now let’s see how it looks like with subscription products and recurring orders. Commonly, companies have issues with calculating the prorations of an up-sell if the contracts are co-termed. For example, you have a 1-year contract paid upfront, 72 days after the start date. The customer wants to turn on an add-on, so you have to invoice the add-on price with a proper prorate multiplier. The logic is more complex if you perform an upgrade. Without Salesforce CPQ, all those steps need to be performed manually, which obviously can lead to errors.
This is not the case if you are using CPQ. Every time a sales representative creates a quote with a subscription-based product, this Salesforce solution automatically creates a contract on the customer’s account. The contract is then used to store all information about sold products and the information on what products need to be renewed. Having all that in one place gives sales teams up-to-date data that they can use if there is a request from the customer to amend the contract – like turning on add-ons. All complex calculations described above are automatically done using the CPQ engine, so there is no room for errors.
How can Salesforce CPQ benefit your company?
To sum this all up, using Salesforce CPQ in your company is a solution that guarantees seamless data flow across all of the processes aimed at providing goods and services to customers. Besides the sales path, the biggest added value is noticeable in billing processes. No matter if your company has an ERP system or a dedicated worker who creates the invoices manually. The data calculated and stored in Salesforce CPQ can be easily used to create correct invoices, shipping documents, and others. with 100% first-time quality. This shortens the time from quote to cash which results in better turnover and – most importantly – better customer satisfaction!
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Article by Wojciech Maczkowski