CPQ Fundamentals

Before I begin, there’s something to learn in this post about CPQ. But of course since I like to tell stories, there needs to be a little background first.

Then….

At my first real admin job where Salesforceing (it’s a verb) was 100% of my job, I had to find a tool that would allow my company to do some pretty complex quoting. If you know anything about the manufacturing industry, you know how complicated just a single product can get. The company I was with was a glass fabricator and did pretty awesome work. Spoiler alert: glass is really complicated with various colors, sizing, layers, laminates, types, edging, constraints, etc. Who knew? So of course, as a brave Admin, I took on the challenge and suggested we purchase Salesforce CPQ. It’s just a few extra objects, right?

Right?

At the time, Salesforce CPQ was still branded as “Steelbrick” even having been acquired by SF in 2015, but more or less the fundamentals of CPQ we have today haven’t changed much. Luckily, there was end of quarter/month hustling going on at the time and they included premium support for a year which gave me some pretty good CPQ 101 training, earning me my CPQ brown belt which was prior to CPQ certification being a thing. I never really understood the whole martial arts thing with technology. Who would want a Ninja to write code for you? I mean….they are anonymous, carry weapons and are trained killers. If I did a code review and told them it sucked I may die. Maybe it’s just me?

CPQ Brown Belt “Accreditation” before Salesforce had the CPQ Specialist certification in 2017. There was blue belt, brown belt and black belt. There was only 1 person who was a Steelbrick black belt, Gilles Muys

After months of frustratingly learning CPQ and learning to properly gather requirements before building, I had completed my first CPQ implementation. Hooray! If it wasn’t for the good training I had and the awesome Steelbrick community at the time, I don’t know how I would’ve done it. When I was done I swore i’d never focus on CPQ again, but at least wanted something to show for it, so I took the new CPQ Specialist cert in 2017 and passed!

Fast forward a bit into my first consulting gig. I was on a pretty basic CPQ project and had to refresh my memory a bit and brush up on a few functions I needed, but….my bookmarked articles were broken. The steelbrick community was…gulp….gone!!!! It was gone! It was replaced by Salesforce help articles, and sparse at that. What about all those articles and great posts, and and and….GONE??? Terrified, I went to the CPQ specialist study guide I had built that linked me to a bunch of articles that supported what I had to learn….all of them were broken links. WTAF? The help articles were just ok at best then, and there was almost no discussion on CPQ functionality at the time, more questions than answers.

No trailheads, no help, no guides, just support. So I struggled through it. Reached out to friends and peers that were in the CPQ community and muscled through.

Now…

When I decided to leave my first consulting role, I had an opportunity with Simplus, who does a lot but focuses on CPQ, so naturally I was terrified. I had only worked with the “C”and “Q” part of CPQ, and not so much the pricing and contracting part, so naturally I didn’t think i’d get the job but wanted to take the interview anyway to sharpen my interview skills.

Fortunately for my family and I, but unfortunately for my sanity, I got the job at Simplus (hooray!). I was terrified. I was going to work at a job where CPQ would be my primary focus and not even 3 years prior I started my first CPQ project and expressed how much I despised the platform.

Luckily, Simplus has been a fantastic company to work for and has helped me learn everything I was lacking in short form. The resources to learn from have been endless, the internal stewardship to make sure no one is left behind and setup for success has been tremendous, and its been a great experience. Where I was originally terrified of CPQ i’ve come to really enjoy the product as there are so many ways to solve problems, and the CPQ while small is mighty!

Now, I enjoy CPQ much more now than ever. I remember what it was like scouring the web trying to find help in the Steelbrick community, and then had nothing for a good bit of time, and even today its somewhat difficult to get training and help outside of Trailhead. I felt this was my way to give back to the community to enable more CPQ professionals to build their career, so i’m developing the CPQ Fundamentals video series on youtube.

Its still a work in progress and i’d love to hear your feedback thus far, but if you are interested in learning CPQ as an admin or even if you are an organization curious if it’s time for you to move to CPQ, please tune in and subscribe. Please know that as of this post (11/21/19) i’m in the process of refreshing my trial licenses in the dev org it’s in so I can continue making videos with the build I already have.

Hope you enjoy and please let me know your thoughts and feedback! Maybe even something you’d like to see in CPQ and hopefully I can help with it!

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