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Salesforce rebrands SteelBrick as Salesforce CPQ, adds Einstein

Salesforce plans improvements to mobile and desktop UI, and to predictive capabilities, in fully integrated quote-to-cash process -- formerly SteelBrick.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The newly branded Salesforce CPQ will further the integration of what was once SteelBrick into the Salesforce platform, while also providing Einstein capabilities for the quote-to-cash process.

At Dreamforce 2016, and less than a year after acquiring SteelBrick, a configure, price, quote (CPQ) company, Salesforce unveiled new features users can expect in upcoming iterations.

The new features and upgrades include a better user interface with improved mobile and desktop experiences, as well as improvements to the ability to settle any type of invoice and allowing for different payment allocations and other quote-to-cash processes.

Guided building feature intriguing

The guided building feature is one that intrigued Zeke Baied, a technology consultant at Kansas City-based Advanced Technology Group, which specializes in CPQ implementation. Guided building allows for easier and quicker building of complex processes, which can be confusing and time-consuming for those reps, admins and executives lacking developer skills.

"Right now some of the tools they have -- price rules, product rules, quote line editor -- can be confusing unless you have experience with the applications," Baied said. "Bringing guided building to the fold will allow admins who are not used to the tools to configure rules and quotes with much faster speed than you can today."

It [would] be worthwhile to know that the last 100 times this product was added to the quote, 75% of the time they bought it.
Zeke Biaedconsultant, Advanced Technology Group

Taking a page out of Amazon's book, Salesforce CPQ is introducing product recommendations using machine learning and predictive intelligence via its new Einstein platform. It will allow sales reps who are building quotes or product bundles to recommend and upsell other products to their customers.

"We want an Amazon-like search experience," said Toni Pastorino, a product manager at Salesforce CPQ. "We're working on ways to bring intelligence into CPQ and make things easier for sales reps. [One of those ways] is product recommendation."

More insight for reps would be welcomed

If Salesforce CPQ can deliver on its proposal and offer more insight for sales reps when compiling quotes, it's something that Baied said would be welcomed by most CPQ users.

"I want to know a little more about the predictability that my client will say 'Yes' to this product line," Baied said. "The prediction is important, but the analytics need to be at the individual quote line level."

Baied described a scenario where a sales rep presenting a group of products to a client would have to rework a quote if there wasn't enough insight to whether the product grouping would be an effective one.

"I see a lot of times a sales rep will add a recommendation to a quote, but that quote needs to be presented to the customer and it will be worthwhile to know that the last 100 times this product was added to the quote, 75% of the time they bought it," Baied said. "It's a matter of knowing if you're spending the right time presenting this product to the client versus putting it on there then having to go back in the system to remove it and reshow the quote."

"I believe [Salesforce CPQ] can have that capability, but they haven't demoed any of it," Baied said. "I'd really like to see how that information trickles down to a quote line."

Salesforce plans added functionality

Evan Maxwell, a Salesforce CPQ product manager, said at the roadmap keynote that line-by-line advanced approvals will be included in the upgrades.

"We want to deliver more functionality for line-level approval," Maxwell said. "There will be analytics for each line as [sales admins] make decisions for large deals."

Adding to the ease of creating quotes and proposals, sales admins will be able to create rules -- such as any discount less than 15% doesn't require manager approval -- using a rules builder tool, allowing out-of-the-box customization.

"It's a strenuous process building out products and features," said Chris Laughlin, a product manager at Salesforce CPQ. "This will guide you to build a product bundle in one screen, building in the price and product rules and build it to what you want the sales reps to work with."

Moving toward usability and ease, Salesforce CPQ is hoping it empowers the sales department across all levels to create quotes and complete a sale as quickly as possible.

"What Salesforce did really well was the lead-to-opportunity process," said Arian Van de Carr, senior director of product management at Salesforce CPQ. "We want to take that business logic that lives in the back end and give it to the user."

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