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Configure-price-quote integration effective for Salesforce

SteelBrick's technology gives Salesforce users the ability to generate quotes on the go, which they say has increased efficiency and forecasting accuracy.

The integration of SteelBrick's configure-price-quote software into Salesforce's platform was done quickly, and now gives sales teams using Sales Cloud the ability to offer customer quotes in real time.

"Salesforce used to have its own quote system, but it was never robust," said Steve Purcell, senior director of global program management at Nectar Services Corp., a unified communications management platform company based in Jericho, N.Y. "Plugging in to SteelBrick for that quoting made sense. Now, we can place orders and generate quotes right in the portal."

Purcell said Nectar has used Salesforce and its Sales Cloud and Community Cloud for roughly two years. The company added SteelBrick about a year ago, prior to its acquisition by Salesforce, when it was just an application in the Salesforce App Cloud. Before adopting SteelBrick, Nectar used a house-made application to complete the configure-price-quote work.

"It was a little Java-based app that we maintained," Purcell said. "It's standalone, and house-made apps don't integrate with the CRM system."

Since its integration with Salesforce Sales Cloud, Purcell said SteelBrick has increased its resources and response time for customer issues.

"Efficiency has been the big thing," he said. "But also by having all the systems talking to each other, it improves forecasting accuracy."

Improving efficiency and ease for sales personnel was the goal of the $300 million SteelBrick purchase and integration, according to Lynne Zaledonis, vice president of Sales Cloud product management at Salesforce.

"We offered an ability to house a quote that allows you to have all the product information, what the terms of the contract were, but it was static," Zaledonis said. "We weren't doing the actual calculations in there. SteelBrick provides the engine to configure that quote."

One of the largest advantages of the configure-price-quote integration is the ability to configure quotes while on the go, providing customers up-to-date quotes without wasting time.

"It's fast, it's mobile, it leverages your workflows and the platform," Zaledonis said. "It provides that competitive advantage, too."

Previously, Salesforce customers used third-party applications, such as Apttus and CallidusCloud, or just used in-house Excel spreadsheets -- the latter of which lacks adequate safety measures, according to Zaledonis.

"The problem with that is there's no room to report on it; you don't have the safety of a rules engine to check for discounts," Zaledonis said. "There's no real-time visibility. How can I, as a manager, understand what my reps are doing out there?"

Salesforce decided to acquire SteelBrick over other configure-price-quote partners like Apttus, Zaledonis said, because of customer testimony.

[SteelBrick] gives us greater visibility and accuracy into what our channel is quoting.
Steven Purcellsenior director of global program management, Nectar Services Corp.

"Over the last couple of years, tens of thousands of customers already leveraged SteelBrick on Salesforce, and it was that feedback that helped us make the decision that they were the right company to buy," she said.

One such customer is Nectar, where Purcell said the inclusion of SteelBrick helped with efficiency and accuracy when compiling deals.

"It gives us greater visibility and accuracy into what our channel is quoting," Purcell said. "Since they are putting quotes directly into Salesforce, the quotes' numbers directly drive the channel forecast."

One area that could improve the process, Purcell said, is increasing some of the automation in the configure-price-quote process, by having data intelligence help provide quotes.

"Last year at Dreamforce, Salesforce said they were working on a wizard-based quoting, where it builds the quote based on a handful of answers," Purcell said. "But as far as product-wise, SteelBrick has always been pretty solid."

Next Steps

SteelBrick's potential as a Salesforce app

Apttus expansion to Microsoft raises concerns

Salesforce Lightning upgrade raises questions about CPQ partners

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How will Salesforce's integration of SteelBrick affect your sales cycle?
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Either this reporter is mis-quoting or Zaledonis is mis-informed.  Steelbrick doesn't have anywhere close to "tens of thousands of customers." And the comments about Apttus and Callidus not being able to provide real-time visibility, reporting or a rules engine are ridiculous.  

For the record- Salesforce uses Apttus.  Salesforce wouldn't have selected Apttus if they weren't the best CPQ tool on the market, providing everything an enterprise like Salesforce needs (like a rules engine, reporting, and real-time visibility). #getyourfactsstraight
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