The Difference Between Salesforce RLM and Salesforce CPQ: Everything You Need to Know

In March of 2024, Salesforce announced a new offering called Salesforce Revenue Lifecycle Management (Salesforce RLM) that combines many of the core functionality that growing companies need in one clever package.

What is Salesforce Revenue Lifecycle Management

Salesforce Revenue Lifecycle Management is an offering that combines the functionality of CPQ, Billing, Subscription Management, E-Signature, Document Generation, and more under one Salesforce umbrella. This product suite was born by the technology built in-house by Salesforce for revops teams, as well as the technology that Salesforce acquired through SteelBrick and Vlocity. The platform works best for companies that are looking to run their entire revenue lifecycle out of Salesforce, rather than tapping into other system capabilities like NetSuite or Stripe or otherwise to handle some of these tasks.

What’s Included in Salesforce RLM

The best way to think about Salesforce Revenue Lifecycle Management is not as a new distinct product from Salesforce, but rather as a collection of offerings that are being packaged together to meet the needs of a wide spectrum of its’ customers across the entire revenue lifecycle. 

  • Salesforce CPQ: Pricing management, product catalogs, contract renewals and amendments built within Salesforce. The primary difference with RLM and Salesforce CPQ is that RLM is built leveraging Salesforce Core (standard) objects rather than a managed package, which is how CPQ is traditionally structured. 
  • Salesforce Contracts: No longer will you need to implement Nintex or Conga for your contract document generation, redlining, or approval and change management process. With Salesforce Contracts, these actions come out of the box built on the Einstein 1 Platform. 
  • Salesforce Billing: Automate your recurring billing on Salesforce across any channel which you operate. This works across any frequency with Salesforce’s built-in invoice scheduler. Accept any payment method through any gateway, whether that’s Salesforce’s native payment gateway or any partner on the AppExchange. 
  • Revenue Lifecycle Management: Built natively on Einstein 1, Revenue Lifecycle Management unifies data across an enterprise, regardless of how that data is structured, by seamlessly mapping it to the Salesforce metadata framework.

The major consideration called out in a few of the bullets above is the fact that Salesforce RLM offerings are built natively on the Einstein 1 Platform. This enables easier administration leveraging declarative configuration rather than more code-heavy configuration, and doesn’t subject it’s customers to a managed package environment.

Salesforce RLM vs Salesforce CPQ

Salesforce RLM and Salesforce CPQ have some major differences in functionality, which we’ll call out below. 

Object ModelManaged PackageNative on Einstein 1 Platform
APIsPre-configured APIsHeadless
OmnichannelCustomization RequiredSell Anywhere
PromotionsCustomization RequiredDiscount Calendar Functionality
Pricing WaterfallCustomization RequiredNative to RLM
Usage Based PricingStandard in CPQ PlusNot Yet Available
Contract ManagementRequires IntegrationsSalesforce Contracts
ApprovalsAdvanced Approvals OptionalStandard Approvals Only
Order to CashCustomization/Integrations RequiredNative to RLM

To a reader who hasn’t implemented or evaluated CPQ or RLM yet, these details might be a bit ambiguous. However, the main differences in each system is that RLM boasts native Einstein 1 Platform infrastructure, a headless API for easier connectability with external systems, better Omnichannel interoperability if you sell across platforms, and contract management functionality out of the box. CPQ on the other hand, is better for you if advanced approvals and/or usage-based pricing are important to your business process.

Will Salesforce Discontinue CPQ

At this point, it’s looking like a NO. CPQ is still the most popular and widely-adopted platform among Salesforce’s customer base for pricing, quoting, and configuration of quotes. While RLM is certainly a powerful offering, it’s very unlikely that it will supplant CPQ in Salesforce’s product lineup because of the inherent differences in what the product offers, and it’s starting price of only $75/u/m (as of the time this blog was written!). 

Should You Buy CPQ or RLM

That is the question. However, we can make it simple for you, based on where you are in your Salesforce journey.

If you are an existing Salesforce CPQ customer with integrations for document management, billing, or order to cash and your system is operating well and as expected, our guidance is to stay where you are. We’re not saying that RLM can’t bring you any value, but unless you have a very compelling reason to get off of your existing CPQ implementation, it’s unlikely that you will realize any major ROI gains by making the switch.

If you purchased Salesforce CPQ, but haven’t been able to get it off the ground then it’s possible that either the solution was not capable to deliver everything your team required in the first place (please refer to our comparison in the upper section of this blog) or your chosen implementation method/partner is not up to the task. In either case, we would welcome the opportunity to review what’s been built so far and crash that against your actual business requirements to make a more solidified recommendation as to the best path forward for you. It’s possible that RLM could solve your problems.

If you have not yet made a decision on Salesforce CPQ or RLM and are not a current customer of either then you should evaluate how much of your revenue lifecycle would be beneficial to capture in Salesforce vs how much is currently done (or should be done) in your ERP or external system. If you do not currently have contract management (redlining, e-signature, contract generation) then it’s possible that RLM could be a great way to combine this, billing, subscriptions, and CPQ in one place: Salesforce! However, not every company requires or is best served by having all of these functionalities in Salesforce, especially if they’re already performing one or more of these other functions in an ERP system successfully.

If none of the above scenarios sound like yours, we’re all ears to hear about what you’re planning so we can help you better understand which direction you should take.

Salesforce RLM vs CPQ: The Verdict

We’re big fans of simplifying the complex here, so without being irresponsible, we can confirm that if advanced approvals and usage-based pricing are major sticking points for your organization, CPQ is very likely the best fit. Additionally, if your organization is sufficiently supported by contracts management, subscription management, and billing but you’re missing a CPQ, then Salesforce CPQ is likely the right call.

However, if your organization is not sufficiently supported by or happy with the order to cash process, you may be a great candidate for Salesforce RLM.

The good news is that you don’t have to make this decision, as our CPQ and RLM experts are standing by and ready to help give you an unbiased decision that can integrate with your ERP platform and help you achieve your revenue goals this year.

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