Can MS Excel be used as a CPQ software?

Kimmo Salmela · March 30, 2022 · 8 mins

What are price quotes?

The sales document provided by the supplier to their potential buyer, giving a fixed price for the goods and services is called a price quote. These are more concrete than estimates that can only provide an approximate price. Price quotes are valid for a certain period and once a client accepts a quote, the supplier must always respect the terms and prices as quoted in the offer. This encourages transparency between the parties and makes it more likely for them to do business together.

A price quote typically consists of the supplier’s business details, client’s details, date of issue, product numbers and descriptions, breakdown of costs, any applicable taxes and discounts, important timelines, factors that might affect the timeline, payment methods, and signature of both parties upon acceptance.

A standardized price list is only useful when a company offers its products and services with standard configurations in little variety. Since this is highly unlikely for businesses operating in the B2B environment, a price quote enables them to provide customized prices for each deal depending upon the needs and requirements of their clients. Using price quotes help businesses from fluctuating prices, while at the same time ensuring profits.

In many situations, a price quote is the first sales document that a potential new customer receives. Therefore, it is very important to draft price quotes that are clear, easy to understand, and not confusing so that the quotes get converted to sales and ensure a fruitful business relationship with the customer.

What is CPQ software?

CPQ stands for Configure, Price, Quote. Sales representatives and self-service customers use CPQ software to quickly generate price quotes and process their personalized orders.

With the help of CPQ software, a business that offers an extensive configuration to its products and services can:

  • Sell the right product combinations,
  • Control discounting on their offering,
  • Automate the approval process,
  • Close deals faster,
  • Launch new revenue models.

By using CPQ software, companies have control and visibility over what they are offering and what is being sold. Without it, it can be a real chaos for the sales team to operate as they can send out unapproved pricing information or promise products that do not exist anymore. It makes it possible for sales reps to accurately track, analyze and forecast the data in correct silos.

The Configure Price Quote (CPQ) software market is certainly burgeoning. It is a highly competitive and fragmented market, with no vendor taking more than 17% market share as per Gartner’s report. Meanwhile, 83% of salespeople use tools for the configuration price quote process already today, says Accenture. But what are the right tools for different companies?

For many smaller companies, those good old Excel sheets still make the only Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution. Their resources for acquiring and maintaining dedicated software are often limited, so more complicated systems are out of their reach.

And this applies as well to many bigger enterprises that are now considering migrating to a specialized CPQ software. But is it worth their while, considering the work that goes into such a project and the risks it entails?

For a fact is that now you can build a fully working CPQ on the Salesforce platform based on Excel and our Documill Dynamo app. It does not make a difference how complex your products are or how big your company is. Read on to find out if that is a suitable solution for you too.

When doesn’t Excel alone really excel?

Before looking deeper into the solution, let us examine the reasons why so many companies have so far abandoned Excel in favor of dedicated CPQ software. Usually, as a company grows bigger and its products more complex, requirements get tighter for functionalities in which Excel alone does not really excel:

  • Process management: maintaining a collaboration process between multiple parties so that they are guided to give their contribution at different steps of the quote production.
  • Access control: limiting access to each part of the process and tools to just those who really contribute to it.
  • Recording the audit trail. CPQ solutions in general allow recording and clearly presenting every action and change during the quoting process, from registering the customer requirements to the final approval and delivery to the customer.
  • Integration and data exchange with other systems: CRM, ERP, databases and so forth.
  • Version control.

Why CPQ with Excel and Documill Dynamo?

The news is, our CPQ with Excel and Dynamo solution for Salesforce tackles – yes – all these shortcomings. And Excel does have its inherent advantages over dedicated CPQ software:

  • Designed for complex calculations. A lot of experience has gone from Microsoft in developing Excel based on real feedback from a great pool of professional users.
  • Ease of use. If you need to constantly update your business logic and calculations, Excel is hard to beat in making things smooth. No specialized expertise or writing of code is needed, unlike often with CPQ solutions.
  • Distributed maintenance. Each sheet can be maintained by the very team and individual best suited for the task.
  • Low training requirements. Most anybody with a suitable background for configuration and pricing work knows also how to use Excel. No additional expertise or training is required, unlike with dedicated CPQ software.
  • No costly, risky migration project. Obviously, if your company has used Excel before for quoting (and who hasn’t?), it may make sense to stick with it and avoid the often painful and time-consuming process. No need to recreate your business logic and processes within a CPQ solution.

How CPQ with Excel and Dynamo works

Our CPQ with Excel and Dynamo simply allows you to process your data in Salesforce and let Excel work in the background. The users will never open or even see the spreadsheets at all (though admins do). Documill Dynamo will just send the data from Salesforce to them for calculations, whose results will then be returned to Salesforce.

Documill Dynamo plays a key role in the solution by enabling smooth integration between Salesforce and Excel. Excel can still freely run any formulas you have programmed in it.

To whom and when is the Excel-based CPQ suitable?

At the end of the day, who can benefit the most from the CPQ with Excel and Dynamo solution?

We would say that not so much small companies. For them, whatever Excel lacks is usually not much of a problem. It can do the job well enough on its own.

However, with bigger companies that have more complicated quoting processes, it is different. Some will definitely benefit from choosing CPQ with Excel and Dynamo over specialized CPQ software. CPQ with Excel and Dynamo is well worth exploring for you if you:

  • use the Salesforce CRM.
  • find your staff constantly updating the business logic and calculations and/or
  • just want to avoid an expensive, time-consuming, disruptive and risky migration project.

Learn more about CPQ with Excel and Documill

Did you get interested? Then just take a look at the details of the solution – or ask for a free demo.

Kimmo Salmela

Written by

Kimmo Salmela

Kimmo Salmela is a communications manager at Documill. Earlier on, he worked in several industry and solution marketing and communication positions at Nokia. Now Kimmo focuses on online collaboration technologies and their future prospects for businesses.

Related Articles