Bundles of joy- the road to CPQ certification
Date published • 12th August 2019
So you’ve been working as a Salesforce consultant for a little while. You’ve gained some great experience in Sales and Service Cloud implementations and have got the certs (and the scars) to prove it. You’re Admin and App Builder certified, and now you’re looking for the next stage of your Salesforce journey. Where do you go next?
Obviously your employer may have a view on this which will influence your decision, but looking at this from the perspective of your own market value and career development I’d always be looking to develop complementary skills (rather than just ticking off another cert for the numbers). I considered the following:
- Field Service Lightning – this follows on nicely from your Service Cloud knowledge and would be a great additional skill to be able to call on if you have clients with mobile service agents. It’s also quite a discrete application so you can cover the whole curriculum relatively confidently with a small amount of hands-on experience.
- Community Cloud – the ability to design and deliver customer and partner portals that interact directly with your CRM data is one of the key selling points of the Salesforce platform, and most customers will have communities on their roadmap or wish list somewhere.
- Platform Developer I – this starts to take you down the programmatic capabilities of Salesforce with Apex and Visualforce as well as unit testing and deployment strategies. This is one of the core certifications you’ll need on the CTA path, but you do need to have a strong understanding of the use cases and capabilities/limitations of the different tools before you get started on this course.
- CPQ – this is one of Salesforce’s growth areas as they build on top of their existing Sales Cloud market share. The acquisition of Steelbrick and integration into the Salesforce product suite is helping to drive sales across Europe with both product and services-focused sales organisations.
As you can probably guess from the topic of this article, I decided to go down the last route. I knew CPQ was a bit of a “beast” from colleagues’ experiences of doing the certification, but I was up for a challenge and excited by the growth potential of the product. At Sapient i7 we’ve already worked on a variety of CPQ implementations for Salesforce’s clients in the UK, Germany, France and Finland, and there really aren’t many experts around in the market, so this is a real opportunity to develop a strong niche for yourself and your organisation. CPQ also ties in nicely with other products like document generation – in particular Conga Composer and Conga Contracts which I was lucky enough to already have experience and certification in – and in particular when combined with Billing experience there is a real scarcity of skills available so you can start to stand apart from the crowd...
Unlike a lot of Salesforce certifications there isn’t a huge amount of training material out there for CPQ (no Focus on Force or Udemy courses & practice papers – see, I told you I was up for a challenge) so you really need to commit to developing your own hands-on experience. Trailhead is your friend here – the CPQ Trailhead modules all begin with a step-by-step guide to setting up a new Developer org and installing a demo CPQ package which gives you a load of products and bundles already set up so you can get to grips with the process very easily.
I do have a few issues with the Trailhead approach when it comes to CPQ however! Although the modules are great at spelling out how to manage the step-by-step process of building bundles, creating constraints and pricing rules, they’re not so good at giving you a customer situation and asking you to work out the solution – they tend to give you a step by step answer to solving the challenge. This is great for quickly working through the modules but doesn’t give you the problem-solving skills to either deal with real-life situations or passing the CPQ certification exams. Sadly there’s no substitute for hands-on experience so you’ll have to work through a bunch of scenarios in the dev org or on a real-world project to really get confident in the wider setup. There’s also very little content on Quote Templates so you will have to work your way through the Salesforce help guides which are less fun than doing Trailhead modules. Personally, I’m still at the stage of getting more hands-on experience configuring bundles before I book myself in for the certification, but I’m happy that I’m really learning about the product and its capabilities rather than taking a short cut to getting another cert on my profile... This one is going to be well earned!
If you want to join me on the CPQ certification journey, I’d heartily recommend it. Don’t be shy of looking around for more detailed help – Salesforce do run a CPQ training course, and it’s worth having a look at some of these online resources as well:
James Maltby is a Senior Consultant at Sapient i7, a Salesforce Platinum Partner with international experience of Salesforce CPQ implementations as well as a broad range of capabilities around Sales and Service Cloud, Salesforce’s Marketing platforms including Interaction Studio and Commerce Cloud, Einstein Analytics and Mulesoft. If you’re looking to grow your experience in any of these areas, or if you need a partner to help you get the most out of your Salesforce investment, don’t hesitate to get in touch...
James Maltby, Salesforce Consultant
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