Certifications / CPQ

CPQ Specialist Certification Guide & Tips

By Andreea Doroftei

The Salesforce CPQ Specialist Certification was created a few years ago after Salesforce acquired Steelbrick CPQ. The certification leads the way for ensuring that those implementing CPQ and the Quote to Cash process are fully prepared for complex requirements and business models.

The CPQ Package expands Salesforce’s native quoting functionality and enables users to move through the ordering and contracting process. To learn more about the difference between CPQ and standard objects, check out this article.

Who’s the Ideal Candidate?

The ideal candidate for taking the CPQ Specialist exam is someone who has been actively working with the CPQ package and has hands-on experience.

The goal of taking this exam is to demonstrate to others that you have the knowledge and skills required to appropriately implement and roll out the CPQ package. Having this certification is a key element in pursuing additional CPQ projects and is geared towards customers and partners alike who want or already have CPQ in place.

Even though at this time the Certified CPQ Specialist Certifications does not have any prerequisites, the Salesforce Administrator Certification or equivalent experience is recommended.

Key Topics

The CPQ Specialist exam is made up of eight topics, however, some of them have overlaps in terms of the knowledge required (depending on how you interpret Salesforce’s description of each section!).

Topic Breakdown

1. Products, Product Selection, and Bundle Configurations 35%

Combined, these three sections make up 35% of the exam, and quite a lot of the content does overlap.

An in-depth understanding on how to set up a product is extremely important for this section, including the fields on the Product record, and how the functionalities of a bundle work. You should be able to take a business scenario and know which fields need to be populated, as well as when to use Product Options and Product Features.

You should also have an understanding of Configuration Attributes. Included here is the application of Product Rules and how to set them up.

Here’s why

2. CPQ Platform 23%

Making up the largest portion of the exam (a whopping 23%) you will find a lot of information is stacked under this category.

From a user’s perspective, you will need to understand how to troubleshoot and do some basic admin setup for permissions, as well as have comprehensive know-how of the CPQ package settings.

Under this section, you may also get questions about multi-currency and localizations. This section pretty much sums up what CPQ is all about, and being able to get through these questions means that you have a solid understanding of how to implement CPQ.

Here’s why

3. Pricing 16%

The third largest set of questions on the exam. You must be able to discern when to use a discount schedule, what the different types of block pricing are, and how to handle all things related to subscription pricing.

In addition, comprehension of the pricing waterfall and how different pricing situations end up being calculated will be covered in this section. You must also have knowledge of how to construct price rules and when to implement them.

Here’s why

4. Orders, Contracts, Amendments, and Renewals 15%

While this section only accounts for 15% of the exam, the related questions can prove to be very tricky.

Salesforce CPQ has many different rules in place for these objects so it is important to understand how they work and how the standard aspects of the objects can come into play.

This section is very scenario-heavy, and you must be knowledgeable enough to determine what requirements are necessary in order to meet the use case presented. Understanding the fields and buttons and the flow for this section will help ensure you can make it through.

Here’s why

5. Quote Templates 7%

When it comes to Document Generation within CPQ, there are a lot of things that can be done and customized according to business needs. This is the section that will test your knowledge on everything related to templates, from the way fields can be displayed, to including a watermark on your document.

Here’s why

6. Approvals 4%

In order to ace the questions in this section, you should be familiar with both the native approval process and the CPQ specific Advanced Approvals. This involves knowing your way around using Approval Rules, potentially multiple Approvers and Variables, and facilitating the implementation of complex approval logic in your org.

Here’s why

Study Strategy

Ideally, the Salesforce CPQ Specialist exam should only be tackled if you have sufficient hands-on experience in at least one implementation. Having this experience will provide you with the basic knowledge necessary to begin studying for the exam.

When you are ready to get started, you should first get familiar with the official Salesforce Trailhead exam guide. This gives you a great outline of all the different concepts you need to know before taking the exam. This can be used as your revision plan – print it out and stick it on your office wall, ticking each off section once you have fully understood each concept.

As well as learning about the concepts on paper, you should ensure that you test these features in a CPQ developer edition (as a playground or standard developer edition does not have CPQ available), learn their limitations, try and break them, and have fun with it!

Lastly, you should familiarize yourself with the exam structure. Salesforce exams are multiple-choice, but follow a pattern giving you a choice of the right answer, incorrect answers, and an answer that could be correct, but is not best practice (to really test your skills!).

Exam Strategy

To be ready for exam day, there are a bunch of tips we have gathered over the years to give you the best chance of passing with flying colors.

First, if there are any concepts you are struggling to get to grips with, print off a cheat sheet and try to memorize it before you take the exam – this will keep everything fresh in your memory. You could also write down the key points depending on your learning style.

When taking the exam, pay particular attention to the question, and read it through a few times. For scenario-based questions, the answer options will give you huge clues as to what the correct answer actually is. If you are taking the exam in a test center, make use of the pen and paper provided to draw out a data schema, role hierarchy, or any other diagram that will help you visualize the answer. Please note, this is not allowed during online proctored exams.

When deciding on the answer, be sure to use the process of elimination to get rid of the answers that are definitely incorrect. Salesforce likes to throw in answers that are made up of different features or just plain incorrect. They also like to throw in curveballs – features that appear to be correct but aren’t best practice. You can often work these out by focusing on standard Salesforce features that accomplish a task. For example, you could build a custom approval process with a Flow, but why do this when there is a standard feature that could be used instead?

You also have a great tool at your disposal (the “Mark for review” checkbox) which appears below each question. This is great if you can’t think of an answer right at that moment, or if you are doubtful about your answer.

At the end of the exam, you will have a chance to review the questions marked for review (as well as all other answers), which will give you a pretty good idea of how likely you are to have passed the test. I would always recommend reviewing every question if time permits. I do this during every exam and often spot mistakes I’ve made, or find the answer to another question not yet completed.

Even if you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt, be sure to write down the topics you found most challenging – this will allow you to study further and test again. It is recommended that you schedule the retake as soon as possible to avoid disrupting the flow and prevent you from forgetting the features you don’t work with day in, day out. As with all other Salesforce exams, the CPQ Specialist retake fee is half price and you can have up to three attempts per release – as this is subject to change, make sure you check out the retake policy.

Useful Tips and Resources

  • Bookmark the official Trailhead Exam Guide and use this as your master revision list.
  • Ensure you not only read about the features and concepts, but thoroughly test them out in a Developer Org or a Trailhead Playground. This will ensure you cover all functionalities, preparing you for some very detailed questions.
  • Get hands on with the CPQ Admin Fundamentals Trail on Trailhead.
  • Once you feel confident with some of the modules, book your exam to give you a date to aim towards. This will give you the motivation to invest time, revise all topics, and pass the exam.
  • Download our Top 10 Salesforce Certification Tips eBook.

Final Thoughts

For specialists working the full project lifecycle of CPQ implementations, this certification will be a way to confirm the knowledge they have already gathered through the hands-on work, while also learning a few new things as well.

Even if extensive hands-on experience is recommended, the Trailhead modules will cover quite a few scenarios and definitely bring you one step closer to proving you can design, build, and implement CPQ functionality.

The Author

Andreea Doroftei

Andreea is a Salesforce Technical Instructor at Salesforce Ben. She is an 18x certified Salesforce Professional with a passion for User Experience and Automation. 

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