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How Your WMS Can Support CPQ

If you’re a company that sells products and services, you know that providing quotes to your customers in an accurate and timely fashion is important. CPQ (which stands for Configure, Pricing and Quote) processes help your team to gather all of the relevant information for your customers and saves your business time and energy when generating a quote. Your customers and prospects of course appreciate the fact that they are receiving reliable information so that they can make a decision as quickly as possible and as knowledgeably as possible. Failing to meet the needs of your prospects and clients though can result in them going elsewhere and result in the loss of business. The last thing clients want to do is stand around waiting especially when they’re ready to take action.

One of the factors that sometimes holds businesses back is a lack of inventory planning and integration of inventory data into their CPQ process. Not having accurate inventory information can pose a challenge to your sales quote process. If inventory data in unreliable this can produce scenarios where quotes are inaccurate and cause issues later on in the sales journey. So, what are some factors to consider, how can integrating inventory improve CPQ, and how can this overcome challenges?

First, let’s dive a little into CPQ, specifically on Salesforce, to give a little context. CPQ is a software sales tool that helps individuals and businesses to generate personalized, detailed, and accurate quotes to customers in an efficient and process organized way. It accomplishes this by bringing together all the information that is required to create the quote, including pricing, customer data, product information, project lead times, and more. All this information can be shared amongst team members on a centralized platform, Salesforce. Essentially, everything that sales teams need to be able to close a deal is provided to them so that they can do their quoting. CPQ streamlines your quoting process and makes it as efficient and effective as possible.

Yet as we mentioned, product inventory can at times be a part of the CPQ process that gets left out of the equation. Having customer account information, contracts, product catalogues, up to date pricing, and so on is great. But if you don’t have real-time inventory availability this can put a big dent in your quote. And the problems are all to obvious. For example, imagine sending a quote to a customer, finalizing the deal only to realize once you ask your warehouse to reserve the inventory that not enough is available to fulfill the order, or else has been reserved for other customer orders. At the least this can put you in an embarrassing position, at worst potentially losing the business for various reasons related to the lack of inventory. Visibility would have made all of the difference.

So how can the CPQ process be enhanced to avoid this type of situation arising? One way is by integrating your inventory data from a WMS with your CPQ process. How so? Salesforce is extremely adept at providing accessibility to data for businesses. This is especially true when your core business solutions, like your WMS, are Salesforce native products like Akatia Technologies’ WAM solution. By having your inventory available in Salesforce this data can be shared with your sales team as part of the CPQ process. So, when a salesperson goes to create a product quote they will not only be able to see the product but also the inventory in real-time. Once the quote is approved the inventory can be reserved, even if the product need only be shipped at a later point. This will avoid situations where deals are won and the inventory unintentionally being used for other orders. Equally if the inventory is only required by the customer at a later time but more stock is expected to be received before the order is scheduled to be shipped, warehouse staff can plan out fulfilment and allocate inventory accordingly, depending on the situation. Your WMS can also track things like current inventory stock levels and re-order thresholds which can be configured to take into consideration variables like lead times. Through this type of integrated data, you will avoid situations where your business lacks inventory or runs out of stock completely, letting you better plan out your business.

As well your WMS as part of your CPQ process will be able to indicate to your sales teams where inventory is. As a business you may have multiple regional warehouse facilities (including third parties) to better meet the needs of your customers. That said you can allow sales teams to see where inventory is within your warehouse footprint so that the right inventory can be reserved, at the right place. Once inventory is reserved a notice can be sent to your WMS ensuring that the warehouse staff to set it aside. Furthermore, as part of your CPQ flows in Salesforce you can automate things like order generation that then generates pick lists and shipments that then can be sent to your WMS for fulfilment. Or perhaps enable the retrieval of shipping quotes from your WMS based on package weights and destination which can then be shared with your customer. The opportunities for automation and WMS integration with CPQ are both numerous and advantageous.

As we can see inventory data integrated with CPQ can add tremendous value to your sales process by giving sales teams the right information they need to generate accurate quotes for customers and support them in their work. Furthermore, by bringing in your WMS and warehouse operations as a component of your sales flow, orders can be fulfilled accurately, align with your project timelines, and provide flexibility as your business manages your sales journey. In this way you will not only add value to your own business, but to those of your customers while delighting them at the same time.

If you would like to transform the way your organization manages its inventory and related processes, click the link below to get in contact with us. We'd be happy to speak with you!


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