Market Perspectives

Conga Automates the Revenue Life Cycle from Quotes to Contracts

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 11, 2022 5:00:00 AM

The current sales cycle software space is one of complexity. Business-to-business sales across all industries are becoming more complex and require more care in their management. The rise of the subscription economy is one example contributing to this complexity. Buyers are not just buying one product at a time, but rather could be buying multiple products over different periods of time, with renewals on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

VR_Office_of_Revenue_2022_Coverage_LogoThe bundling of services and products is also a reason why today’s sales cycle must be standardized to minimize exceptions and error. Any error in this process could result in awkward walk backs, potentially disrupting the deal or putting it in jeopardy. Ventana Research asserts that by 2024, fewer than 1 in ten organizations will deploy an automated integrated CPQ and Contract Management system reducing their competitiveness and resulting in a poor initial customer experience. Most technology vendors supporting the sales cycle have traditionally focused on the top and middle of the funnel, but what about the important, final stage of the buyer journey? Acquiring and closing an opportunity is no doubt crucial to the overall cycle, but you can lose business as equally at the bottom of the funnel (in the quoting and contract process) as you can at the top. Vendors like Conga are putting more emphasis on the bottom of the funnel, tackling this complexity through standardization and automation to allow organizations to more efficiently and effectively generate sales and revenue.

VR_2021_Revenue_Management_Assertion_5_Square-pngFounded in 2006 as a cloud-based document generation software for Salesforce, Conga has since expanded into the Revenue Lifecycle Suite. Capabilities include document generation; contract life cycle management (CLM); configure, price, quote (CPQ); and an eSignature solution. Conga also has a series of Salesforce optimization solutions that further automate various processes within Salesforce, such as productivity tools, workflows and process management as well as a tool for automating the approval process. Conga and Apttus were both acquired by the private equity firm Thoma Bravo and since merged to form one company, retaining the name Conga.

Standardized and automated CLM and CPQ is necessary for faster and smarter deals. Conga’s approach is to eliminate as many manual processes as possible and protect the deal with a system of guardrails. For example, bundles are often a combination of hardware, digital products and services, and checks are needed to ensure combinations are valid. Pricing needs approval if not at list price, and greater levels of discounts often need sign-off higher up the hierarchy. Errors can have a significant impact on overall revenue. By automating most of the sales process, errors are diminished.

CLM and CPQ platforms also need to be more dynamic to accommodate corporate buyers that demand more out of the software. A salesperson, especially in the annual recurring revenue model, needs to constantly think about how sales progress in a manner which makes for a smooth transition and a happier customer, encouraging renewals. Sales organizations must focus on lead-to-opportunity conversion towards a close-win—which must be done with a good CPQ and safeguards that prevent walkbacks.

With all the technology that exists, CPQ shouldn’t be the point at which a deal fails. Salespeople sometimes need to make decisions quickly, and incorrect data or processes can lead to mistakes in the decision-making process. Complex deals are more difficult to complete as many variables must be considered, and one wrong variable can lead the deal astray.

Historically, the original Apttus CPQ functionality was built on the Salesforce platform using Apex and Force. Conga’s platform requires installation of Salesforce to work—even if in the background for integration with other customer relationship management software. This will potentially cause issues with any artificial intelligence and advanced analytics that Conga would like to offer, but the company is addressing this and has been releasing interim versions with the aim for Conga to work independently of Salesforce and act instead as a platform. For the contract management and e-sign products, Conga has released new functionality that enhances the search and analytic capabilities, such as the ability to search for particular terms, clauses or phrases in a contract. In addition, with the acquisition of the Conga Contract Intelligence product (formerly called Contract Wrangler), Conga now offers the ability to ingest existing and legacy contracts to better understand their terms. This marks a crucial step in handling mergers and acquisitions, where hidden liabilities can cause problems, and reenforces the need to standardize terms for newly acquired customers. All of these improvements demonstrate a recognition of the need to build a revenue life cycle platform truly independent of any CRM.

Buyers looking for an entire revenue life cycle suite beyond just CLM and CPQ should keep Conga on their list. Conga is making many improvements across the platform, especially the infrastructure that it is built on, which is vital to reaching other corners of the market not using Salesforce as their base. With a new vision and new management taking on ownership of the organization, Conga has great potential. Time will tell if the execution will be the catalyst for continued success.

Topics: revenue management, Revenue Performance Management, Office of Revenue

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Ventana Research

Written by Ventana Research

Ventana Research is the most authoritative and respected market research and advisory services firm focused on improving business outcomes through optimal use of people, processes, information and technology. Since our beginning, our goal has been to provide insight and expert guidance on mainstream and disruptive technologies. In short, we want to help you become smarter and find the most relevant technology to accelerate your organization's goals.