Salesforce CPQ specialists are in high demand, knowledgeable CPQ specialists are in short supply, and the Salesforce CPQ Specialist certification is one of the most challenging certifications to obtain. I am a Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist and in this post I will share exactly how I passed the exam. This is not a post that details the content of the exam. For that, check out the exam guide provided by Salesforce.
Study General Background
First, I did some of the Introduction to Salesforce CPQ trailhead modules to make sure that my general knowledge was up to date. These modules were the ones that did not have any connection to Trailhead Playground / Dev orgs. They were reading and quiz questions only. The modules are Salesforce CPQ Basics and Salesforce CPQ Features.
Took the Salesforce CPQ 211 Course
Next, I took the Salesforce CPQ Admin Essentials for Experienced Administrators (CPQ 211) as a virtual student. It was a four day, intense course, focused on covering a breadth and depth of CPQ topics. If you have any holes in your knowledge, with respect to what is required for the exam, this will fill them in for you. The other advantage to taking this course is that you essentially get 32 hours of study condensed in a four day period.
While I was taking the CPQ 211 course, I completed all of the interactive CPQ Trailhead modules and projects (Yes! You can get a CPQ dev org with sample data!). This reinforced core ideas for me and gave me a different way to approach CPQ exam topics, other than the course. The modules / projects are all in the Learn Salesforce CPQ Admin Essentials trail. Nothing beats hands on!
The day after my CPQ 211 course ended, I went back and took about 15 pages of notes on all of the course content. As I was taking the notes, I had my CPQ org open, so that I could drill into the each topic area and see the fields and objects involved for each topic. When I was done taking my notes, I checked it against the certification exam breakdown from Salesforce to make sure I did not miss anything.
Day of the Exam
I took the exam the morning (9:30 AM) after my day of comprehensive studying. I highly recommened taking the exam as soon as possible. My experience is that if something like a certification exam is far off in the future, people don’t think about it until it is very near, anyway. The morning of the exam, I studied key Salesforce CPQ Help pages, while picturing how it all worked in my head. Pages such as: Twin Fields, Salesforce CPQ Special Fields, Product Pricing Overview, CPQ Quote Calculation Stages, Price Rule Considerations, and Merge Fields.
Taking the Exam
My strategy for taking the test was to make an initial pass through of all of the easier questions and come back to the harder ones. It was not always obvious which were the hard ones, as I read each question first and spent a little time on the harder ones before marking them for follow up. Sometimes questions that are encountered later will give insight into questions that you were unsure of, so the strategy of marking for review if you have any doubt, has that added benefit. Every 10 questions or so, I quickly did the math on the remaining time to make sure that I was still on track to be done with adequate time left to review (~15 mins).
What If I Failed?
I had heard how difficult the exam was and how nobody passed on their initial attempt, and to treat the exam as if it was a $300 exam ($200 1st attempt, $100 retake). I had a contingency plan if I failed the first attempt, which, fortunately, I did not. To be honest, I felt pretty good going into the exam, because I spent so much time preparing and felt I knew the material, and the CPQ product very well. Had I not passed, my contingency was to study for the next two weeks and take the exam again. Since Salesforce tells you how you do on each major area of the exam, the focus of my studying would have been on the areas that I did not do well in on the exam.
What If CPQ 211 Was Not an Option?
Lastly, I thought about what I would’ve done if I could not have taken CPQ 211. I have taken many other certification exams without training. Some did not require much (if any) studying and others required a decent amount. The CPQ exam falls into the latter category. For those exams, I have employed the same basic strategy as I’ve outlined here, except instead of the training, I have studied intensley for ~3 weeks, including lots of hands on work. As applied to CPQ, this would have been going through the user guide, taking many notes, and setting up an instance of CPQ from scratrch. I would have done this after doing both CPQs trails on trailhead.
If you are thinking of taking the CPQ Specialist exam, I highly recommend coming up with a study plan. The one that I outlined in this post worked very well for me, but other strategies may work better for you. Best wishes!