Best CPQ Software for Startups

by Adarsh Raj Bhatt
person holding black android smartphone

What does CPQ stand for?

CPQ stands for Configure, Price, Quote software

What is CPQ? 

CPQ software is a sales optimization tool that startups can use to generate price quotes for orders more quickly and accurately than when they are generated manually by sales teams. Good CPQ software solutions are often integrated with a startup’s business technology stack (like its CRM, ERP, etc.) to ensure the seamless interconnectivity of the correct data across platforms.

CPQ software uses a preprogrammed set of rules for quote generation. In order to minimize errors in the pricing, it incorporates elements like: 

  • Quantities
  • Incompatibilities
  • Discounts
  • A broad range of revenue types
  • Customizations
  • Optional product features

Bottom line?

CPQ automates some of the major tasks that are performed by sales reps when they are not actively selling. These tasks include configuring the startup’s set of products and/or services, handling pricing (including reductions and/or approvals of price), and getting deals closed faster with accurate quoting.

Why is CPQ important? 

CPQ software helps achieve quicker quote generation, faster approval times, faster closings (or conversion from leads to sales), and shorter sales ramp periods. Thus, it equips sales reps to become far more productive and efficient in their jobs by reducing the cognitive load that comes with the administrative hassle. 

In this day and age, customers come in all shapes and sizes — which means that they have varying desires and requirements that might not be the same as the previous or following leads. This necessitates a customized quote for each potential customer that takes into account the prices, options, and/or configurations that are tailored to the needs of the customer at that particular moment in time. What this means is that in the absence of CPQ software, sales reps are forced to pore over endless pages of complex documentation in order to deliver a suitable quote. This not only increases the time that it takes to get the custom quote to the lead (lowering the chances of conversion) but also detracts from the accuracy of the quote. 

Here’s why an inaccurate quote is extremely problematic:

  1. If the quote is lower than the actual final pricing, then it leaves little space for meaningful negotiation, forcing your startup to sell the product or service at a loss
  2. If the quote is higher than the actual price, then high-potential leads might be forced to turn to a competitor that appears to be within their budget.

When using CPQ software, there are pre-established rules (based on your startup’s capacity), so all that prices, discounts, and product configurations can be factored into the estimates. The CPQ tool then helps the sales rep work on and arrive at the correct quote (based on a custom template). The quote is then automatically relayed to the appropriate people to quickly get their consent. The entire process is finished in a short period of time, thus increasing the odds of closing the deal successfully and without delays.

At the end of the day, CPQ software enables the sales team to quote faster with fewer errors in price and configurations and to also optimize the pricing. CPQ is the command center that integrates orders, invoices, and reporting on a single platform. 

While the significance of deploying CPQ is already fairly well-understood, more founders are likely to adopt this sales tool as the benefits of using integrated CPQ/CMR/ERP comes to light.

What should you look for when choosing vendors in this space?

#1. Integration Capabilities

It is extremely important to find out if a CPQ tool allows seamless integration with the CRM or ERP system that you use. A well-integrated CPQ platform gives the sales team access to user data and seamlessly logs customer communications in the CRM. This allows the sales teams to tap into pre-existing customer data while pursuing deals with leads. 

If your current CRM is offered by a vendor (e.g., Hubspot) that also provides a CPQ solution, then it is advisable to continue living within that particular vendor’s ecosystem of products.

#2. Deployment 

CPQ software for startups could be deployed in more than one way; for instance, it could be a cloud-based solution or an on-premise one. If your startup’s sales reps plan on logging into the tool from various geographic sites, then a cloud-based or SaaS (software-as-a-service) tool might make more sense. On the other hand, on-premise solutions tend to open the doors to greater custom configuration. 

#3. Pricing

It is generally observed that even startups and small businesses that understand the value (or utility) of CPQ software do not want to invest money in it because of the cost. This is why founders oftentimes don’t pursue CPQ vendors after encountering the pricing hurdle. They begin to believe that all CPQ tools are built for large sales teams at established businesses.

That is why it’s important to ask: How affordable is the CPQ vendor? 

#4. Free Trial (or a Demo)

Top CPQ software must have a satisfactory user interface, usability, and functionality. The software’s learning curve must not be too steep either — it should be easy to use. If your sales team will have to devote a lot of time and headspace to learning the software before they can be genuinely productive while using it, then that hurts overall efficiency. A CPQ product that takes too long to learn and is cumbersome to use will discourage your sales team from using it.

That is why it's a good idea to request that the vendor offer your startup a free trial of the CPQ solution you're interested in. If that's not possible, then ask for a demo that's as customized to your startup's needs as possible.

CPQ software vendors

#1. Salesforce CPQ

Description: Salesforce CPQ is a sales tool for companies to provide accurate pricing for any given product configuration scenario.

Best for Medium to large startups (generally with revenue >$1 million) interested in streamlining bulky sales processes into lean, productive systems. Especially good for startups in software technology.

Pricing: 

CPQ (Configure, price, and quote software): $75 USD per user/per month (billed annually)

CPQ Plus (Configure, price, and quote software with increased process control and automation): $150 USD per user/per month

CPQ & Billing Growth (Integrated quoting and billing solution): Request a quote

CPQ & Billing Plus (Complete quote to cash solution): Request a quote

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: Excellent CRM integration (especially Salesforce CRM). It also integrates with other tools like DocuSign, Zuora, EchoSign, and Xactly. Integration API facilitates integrations with third-party systems (e.g., financial applications).
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS, iOS, Android
  • Free Trial: Available

Pros: 

  • Salesforce CPQ’s integration with Salesforce CRM is renowned in the industry.
  • Good mobile-compatibility
  • In-depth analytics

Cons:

  • A lot of hours need to be devoted to setting up, configuring, and operating Salesforce CPQ. 
  • Steep learning curve.

#2. Hubspot Sales Hub

Description: The HubSpot Sales Hub includes features that suit the activities of the CPQ lifecycle — resources that allow for the configuration logic for your offering, standard and custom pricing, and quote tracking.

Best for Small- to medium-sized startups. Especially good for tech or services startups.  

Pricing: 

Free Hubspot CRM: $0

Sales Hub Starter (starts at 2 paid users): $50 per month billed monthly

Sales Hub Professional (starts at 5 paid users): $500 per month billed monthly

Sales Hub Enterprise (starts at 10 paid users): $1200 per month billed annually 

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: CRM integration available. APIs facilitate integration with third-party or external systems.
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS, iOS, Android
  • Free Trial: Hubspot offers a demo of its premium Sales Hub plans.

Pros: 

  • If you work for a startup, you might be eligible for up to 90% off through the HubSpot for Startups Program.
  • Great usability, including the user interface
  • Smooth integrations with tools like email and calendars

Cons:

  • Glitchy search feature when it comes to names of contacts or companies
  • The onboarding process has room for improvement.

#3. Proposify

Description: Proposify is the online proposal software that gives you control and visibility into the most important stage of your sales process — the close. From deal design to sign-off, get the confidence and flexibility to dominate deals.

Best for Small- to medium-sized startups in the marketing and advertising industries. 

Pricing: 

Free (Ideal for closing deals solo): $0

Team Plan (Great for small or growing sales teams): $49 per month billed quarterly or annually

Business Plan (Perfect for teams of 10 or more): $590 per month billed annually plus an additional onboarding fee to be charged in the first year.

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: Team Plan offers standard integrations with sales tools (e.g., payments and project management) while the Business Plan offers additional salesforce integration. 
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS, iOS, Android
  • Free Trial: Available (14-day trial)

Pros: 

  • Proposals, contracts, and templates are pre-made and have good ease of use. 
  • Signing and storing contracts is easy.

Cons:

  • Templates can get glitchy. Documents can lose alignment.
  • Customization and making changes to design are difficult.

#4. DealHub.io

Description: Generate professional proposals and pricing quotes in minutes with the easy-to-use DealHub CPQ.

Best for Small- to medium-sized tech startups.  

Pricing:

DealHub CPQ pricing is based on the numbers of user seats, and the scope of the implementation needs.

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

Pros: 

  • Easy sync to Salesforce and contracts look clean
  • Flexible solution with a good UI

Cons:

  • Reporting and dashboards have a scope for improvement.
  • Important features are missing when it comes to proposal designing 

#5. PandaDoc

Description: PandaDoc provides an all-in-one document workflow automation platform that helps fast scaling teams accelerate the ability to create, manage, and sign digital documents including proposals, quotes, contracts, and more.

Best for Fast-growing small- to medium-sized tech startups that want to take the work out of document workflow. Especially good for startups with <200 employees and <$50 million revenue.

Pricing: 

Free: $0

Upload, send for eSignature and collect payment for as many documents as you’d like.

Essentials: $19 per month per user

Create docs with templates or the built-in editor. Collect eSignatures and track docs in real-time, too.

Business: $49 per month per user

Connect your CRM and automate your document workflows from creation to eSignature.

Enterprise: Custom quote

For teams that require more capabilities including integrations like Salesforce and API.

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: Integrates with 14+ different CRMs. APIs facilitate integration with third-party or external systems like Zapier, MS Word, payment, and file storage apps.
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS, iOS, Android
  • Free Trial: Available. Also offers a demo.

Pros: 

  • PandaDoc’s interactive pricing tables allow customers to select from multiple options, change quantities, and chat with you directly when reviewing a quote.
  • Helps you analyze which quotes perform the best to close more deals.

Cons:

  • Image library can’t be managed easily.
  • Document editor is missing some standard editing features like being able to reorder pages.

#6. Zoho CRM

Description: Zoho CRM's sales force automation solution helps users track leads, prospects, and business opportunities. The existing customer data in it can be used for future up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.

Best for Startups of all sizes looking to convert more leads, engage with customers, and grow their revenue. Especially good for startups heavily invested in marketing and advertising.

Pricing: 

Standard: $14 per user/per month

Professional: $23 per user/per month

Enterprise: $40 per user/per month

Ultimate: $52 per user/per month

Plus: $57 per user/per month

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: APIs facilitate integration with third-party or external systems (e.g., email clients, marketing automation, compensation management, Google Apps, Google Docs, etc.)
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS, iOS, Android
  • Free Trial: Available. Also offers a demo.

Pros: 

  • Simple, straightforward user interface with a minimal learning curve
  • Migration wizard to easily import data from spreadsheets or other CRM systems

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of customization to get started
  • Limited customer support
  • Forms aren't optimized for conversions.

#7. Configure One

Description: Configure One is a cloud-based system that offers an excellent selection of features, from guided selling and product configurators to automated quoting and e-commerce integration.

Best for: Manufacturing startups and high-tech startups that offer complex, customizable, and configurable products and services.

Pricing: Starts at $150 per user/per month, (​10 users minimum). Contact the Configure One team for further details.

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: Integrates with ERP, CRM, and CAD systems. APIs (and Configure One expert personnel) facilitate integration with third-party or external systems (like SFA and PLM software) 
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS
  • Free Trial: Not available. Offers a free demo.

Pros: 

  • Offers excellent third-party integrations (including e-commerce integration). 
  • Offers real-time product visualization through 2D drawing and 3D modeling

Cons:

  • Does not deploy on Android or iOS.
  • There are no reporting capabilities in the stand-alone Configure One system.

#8. Oracle CPQ

Description: Oracle CPQ Cloud (formerly BigMachines) helps startups and businesses sell products, services, and solutions faster.

Best for Startups in high-tech, technology, financial, and manufacturing industries.

Pricing:

Starts at $150 per user/per month (​10 users minimum). Contact the Configure One team for further details.

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: Integrates with ERP, CRM, and CAD systems. APIs (and Configure One expert personnel) facilitate integration with third-party or external systems (like SFA and PLM software) 
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS
  • Free Trial: Not available. Offers a free demo.

Pros: 

  • Offers excellent third-party integrations (including eCommerce integration). 
  • Offers real-time product visualization through 2D drawing and 3D modeling

Cons:

  • Does not deploy on Android or iOS.
  • Reporting capabilities are not effective

#9. SAP

Description: Build, optimize, and create buyer-friendly quotes and proposals with the SAP CPQ solution.

Best for Medium- to large-sized startups (with considerable revenue) that want a quoting system to handle complex quotes and proposals. 

Pricing:

Available through a monthly subscription, based on the number of users. 

  • SAP CPQ, standard edition: Custom price
  • SAP CPQ, professional edition: Custom price

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: Integrates with ERP, CRM, and any other business-critical application. Also integrates with other cloud portfolio products. 
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS, Windows, Mac
  • Free Trial: Available. Also offers a demo.

Pros: 

  • Helps to generate quotes of 10,000 lines or more in seconds with automated approval and exception workflows.
  • AI-powered insights and recommendations. 

Cons:

  • Clients can’t avail a self-service portal.
  • The stand-alone platform of the SAP CPQ solution doesn’t offer modeling.

#10. Tacton CPQ

Description: Tacton CPQ helps empower sales, marketing, and customers to configure, price, and quote highly customizable products.

Best for B2B startups of all sizes that are involved in manufacturing and have complex offerings (e.g., commercial vehicles, production lines, fans, pumps, power generation plants). 

Pricing:

Request a custom quote from the vendor.

Evaluation of Key Criteria:

  • Integration Capabilities: Integrates into any ERP, CRM, or e-commerce system. 
  • Deployment: Web-based, cloud, SaaS
  • Free Trial: Not available. Offers a demo.

Pros: 

  • Offers effective 3D visualization and feature-based modeling. 
  • Constraint-based configuration system that lets you use logic to create the rules.

Cons:

  • Does not offer automatic approval of quotes.
  • Does not offer an inbuilt reporting dashboard or insights.

We can help!

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