Integrating Microsoft Dynamics with Salesforce CPQ
By Henning Lund - January 14, 2020
Microsoft Dynamics and CPQ are often integrated by businesses to simplify their processes and become more efficiently.
Many companies have a need for guided selling and product configuration as part of their selling processes. There are quite a few good tools out there that can help companies accomplish that, but my favorite is Salesforce CPQ.
On the Microsoft Dynamics NAV/AX side there are several good options available. There are built-in applications like you have in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, and add-ons such as the e-Con and Experlogix solutions.
what is CPQ?
CPQ is "configure, price and quote" software. This software helps businesses provide accurate pricing easily, making the job of salespeople simpler and faster. When a customer asks for a quote, a salesperson can use CPQ software to find a price without any stress or extra research. The software can be programmed to take account of various things, including discounts, quantity and customizations.
Without CPQ software, it could be time-consuming and difficult for a salesperson to provide an accurate quote. Rather than focusing on building relationships and growing revenue, salespeople get caught up in the detail of working out pricing. What's more, they're at risk of getting it wrong and actively damaging the relationships they have built.
While Salesforce isn't the only software with CPQ on the market, it is the natural choice for any business using Salesforce as their CRM and allows Salesforce CPQ guided selling. There are a number of useful CPQ tools for Salesforce that make using the system beneficial.
Salesforce CPQ integration: what you should do and consider
In the past, it has been common to add the CPQ (Configure Price Quote) functionality to the ERP systems from in a CPQ integration. The ERP is where you process order fulfillment and related financial transactions such as invoicing. However, from a conceptual standpoint it may not be the most effective in terms of process optimization and user experience.
I’ve been a sales guy for more than 30 years and I’ve tried a lot of different systems to support my customer acquisition and nurturing. I’ve tried to do everything inside Microsoft Dynamics NAV, I’ve tried to run an ERP disconnected with Microsoft CRM and I’ve tried a Salesforce Sales and Service cloud integrated with an ERP.
What I’ve learned is, that when I can do all of my work in one system only I’m a lot more productive and motivated to do my sales process documentation. It saves a lot of time that I don’t have to switch between systems to find the information I need and it also removes a mental barrier to get things done.
When you integrate Microsoft Dynamics with CPQ, you give yourself exactly that - a single system. Everything can be done in one place, with no need to look up information on different systems or copying information manually. Integration makes your work processes simple and streamlined, so you focus on your clients and prospects.
CPQ best practices: what data you should synchronize
In my recent sales process designs all the customer-facing processes related to sales and customer service have been moved to the CRM system – and it practically means that I don’t have to visit the ERP system anymore. Actually, I don’t even need an ERP login. And it’s a bit hard to admit because I’ve been an ERP guy since the late 1980’s!
But here’s the point: today, I work mostly in the Salesforce Sales Cloud. The Sales Cloud is seamlessly integrated with our ERP System and I synchronize all the information from ERP into the CRM system I need such as:
• Bi-directional customers and accounts • Bi-directional Contacts • Products and prices • Open sales and service orders • Sales history • Payment history • Additional master data to make our reporting more consistent
And in order to automate the entire quote-to-cash flow we’ve also integrated: • Sales quote in CRM to sales order, service order or sales invoice in ERP
I thought it would be a utopia to do advanced product configuration and guided-selling in the CRM system because I need the product and basic pricing from the ERP-system to feed that. But it has proven to be a lot easier than I thought.
If you've been putting off setting up an ERP CPQ integration because you think it'll probably be too difficult or time-consuming, you might (as I have been) be pleasantly surprised. I'm struggling to see a downside of the integration process. It has made pretty much everything much easier and more straightforward.
A good model is to create new products and basic pricing in the ERP system because you have more details on a product there in order to make sure that the financial transactions go where they should and with the right dimensions etc. This information is synchronized automatically to the Sales Cloud where the Salesforce CPQ is configured to handle your product configuration and pricing, utilizing special offers, enabling specials bids within defined frames etc. When new quotes are made in Salesforce CPQ the end result on item line level will overwrite the default pricing in the ERP when the quote is converted to an order. It’s super powerful, flexible and it gives a great user experience.
If a company is already integrating CPQ functionality in their ERP system, from an integration perspective we can set up additional synchronizations that utilize the ERP CPQ functionality from the CRM. But it’s only good if it’s only a matter of calculating the exact pricing. If you need to make manual choices during the process you would need to do this in the ERP system which means that the process is not fully automated, and the benefits would be more limited.
One thing I will advise against is trying to duplicate CPQ functionality in both the ERP and the CRM system - you have to choose one! Anyone who has tried to work with product configuration tools knows that it’s quite complex to configure during setup and you are limited/enriched with the specific design/logic of the CPQ system. Practically, you will have a very hard time trying to keep two different CPQ systems working in exactly the same way – actually then you would have to work with the lowest common denominator instead of utilizing the full potential of one CPQ. The integration can work just as well either way, so you can simply choose whichever you prefer. Think about what your usual work processes are, where your focus is and then decide which might suit you better.
If you are considering using Salesforce CPQ in combination with Microsoft Dynamics as the ERP system just go ahead. You will love it! You can read more about integrating Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics here.
How to successfully set up a Microsoft Salesforce CPQ integration?
Read this guide and understand how you can easily integrate your Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce CPQ with the Rapidi integration platform:
About the author
With over 25 years’ experience in strategically propelling businesses forward, Henning is considered a business development entrepreneur with a passion for transforming businesses, sales and marketing operations through out-of-the-box thinking, concepts building and process automation to improve overall performance and scalability.