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Future trends in Distribution services – Looking forward in 2018 & beyond

February 28, 2018

Having served the IT Channel for a decade and working with Manufacturers, Distributors and Resellers in over 60 Countries, channelcentral is well placed to observe Channel movements and trends. We recently contributed to the IT Europa Channel Predictions report, so we thought we’d share what we had to say:

Traditional IT buying and selling motions are under pressure to evolve.  Our Chief Strategy Officer, Greg Starks, believes that, “The lines between traditional upfront selling and Device-As-A-Service/Software-As-A-Service will continue to blur. The channel [distribution] will offer hybrid financing that address selling upfront + As-A-Service together. This will allow partners and customers to visualize packaged As-A-Service offerings alongside financed custom solutions as a comprehensive OpEx payment timeline.” We hear manufacturers talking about Device-As-A-Service every week. We recognize the role that distribution now plays in the ‘As a Service’ IT procurement model and partners who engage closely with distribution will be more successful.

As-A-Service offerings will increasingly be seen as a way of ‘locking customers in’ and earning their loyalty.  Everything that is offered ‘As-A-Service’ needs to be validated, yet you still want to give your customers choice and not be too prescriptive. Packaging/bundling up an ever-wider number of products, whilst managing your customers’ journey and still offering them choice, will create a need for more sophisticated eCommerce sites that have integrated Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software. Without this, the management of these offerings is extremely resource intensive. Traditionally, distributors have had to assist customers with their hardware configurations or ask them to click out to hosted CPQ software.

There is still a time and a place for this level of complexity but we will be seeing a shift in the market. Already, hosted CPQ Software has an ever-growing number of attach options to fulfil the ‘As-A-Service’ model but what if Partners can leverage their offerings even more easily than that? Greg Starks, thinks that “Manufacturers and Distributors will invest in point solutions to bring just enough CPQ Software into self-service IT buying. Beyond just configuration, tools that help to shape demand toward the high-confidence products that can be delivered immediately.” These are likely to be served as ‘plug-ins’ to eCommerce systems with full basket integration.

As distribution advances its capability to aggregate their breadth of suppliers into packaged “As-A-Service” offerings, smart Partners can take new, more appealing sales propositions to their customers. In the Noughties End Users would reach out to their resellers when they had CapEx available to spend on a specific project. If a Reseller won a €2m deal one year they’d be expected to win one next year and the year after. How do you resource that? Fast forward to now and that’s now OpEx spread over several years.
As-a-Service is not just about predictability of revenue and removing barriers to driving new IT projects there are other advantages including:

1. Partners become strategic to their End User as they sign long-term contracts to provide IT Cloud or Infrastructure projects based on a Managed Service.

2. Distributors now represent hardware, software, services, finance and cloud vendors making the choice of solutions near infinite. Partners can guide end users to truly optimized solutions.

3. Partners (usually) bill the customer monthly and that’s a good thing – consistent interaction with a customer gives Sales opportunities to engage, seek feedback on the effectiveness of the solution and identify new opportunities.

4. Software-As-A-Service is incredibly easy to audit versus traditional licenses ensuring the End User is compliant but also the sales opportunity is maximized. Businesses without full “license” compliance equals a lost revenue opportunity as well as a risk to their business.

5. Working indexing into contracts means that margin is protected over the term (example would be linking the price to the Retail Price Index or similar).

6. There’s such a great opportunity for partners to differentiate here and that means less price comparison.

7. End-users need help. Yes, commodity resellers sell servers and over time similar companies will use technology to improve that experience, but partners are best placed to recommend solutions.

Do you need help implementing your As-A-Service business model? We can certainly assist. Just contact us for an informal discussion. We’d be glad to offer you advice.

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iQuote goes Japanese!

February 14, 2018

New language available in iQuote.

We are delighted to announce that we have now have Japanese language available in iQuote for all Users, regardless of your location.

Login to HPE iQuote, go to Account Settings, find ‘Language’ and select ‘Japanese’. It is as simple as that!

Japanese iQuote

 

We hope that this will be a welcome addition to the tool for our Japanese Users.

iQuote is Configure, Price, Quote Software developed by http://www.channelcentral.net

 

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A Chromebook ready for Enterprise.

February 9, 2018

HP Chromebook 14 G5.

hp-chromebook-14-g5_670x419The latest addition to iQuote is the HP Chromebook 14 G5. It is elegant and effortless. Built with the manageable, secure, and intuitive Chrome OS™ and driven by the latest Intel® Celeron® processors. It’s future-ready for evolving workspaces with universal USB-C™ compatibility and an optional FHDIPS touchscreen.

It has been designed to lie flat and has a wide-angle HD webcam and echo-cancelling mic so the whole room can participate.  Use the optional  backlit keyboard in low light. The USB port can be used for charging the device and its accessories.

The Chromebook is now available in iQuote for the AMS region with the following models:

3NU63UT, 3NU64UT, 3PD87UT, 3PD95UT

Login today and quote your solution!

iQuote is Configure, Price, Quote Software developed for HP Inc. by http://www.channelcentral.net

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New EMEA offers in iQuote Universal for HPE.

February 8, 2018

Today sees the launch of two exciting new pricing initiatives in iQuote Universal for some HPE EMEA Users. Designed to support the SMB Market with the very best offers:

SMB Offers

SMB Offers in iQuote Universal can be accessed from the Home Screen. A new tile has been introduced to show selected servers and options for a special price when purchased together:

SMB Offers             SMB Offers2

Users can select their bundle and add it to their basket where the price will be shown and the offer highlighted. Not only can users save with SMB Offers but they can also apply HPE Financial Services for flexible payments!

Note: This is a Europe wide promotion in iQuote Universal only at this stage.

Indicative Buy Price

Universal users will be notified of the new Indicative Buy Price feature when they next login. To access these prices, users will need to follow the link to the Partner Ready Portal to login and confirm they are an HPE Partner.

Indicative Buy Price

Once authenticated, users will be passed back to iQuote and have access to better pricing on select SKUs. Users will be able to view the estimated reseller prices and the saving made.

Note: This is a pilot promotion in iQuote Universal for the UK and Germany only at this stage.

Login to iQuote Universal today and realise the HPE savings that can be made!

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HP EliteBook 830 G5 & 840 G5

February 6, 2018

New to iQuote. 

PROD_EBK840G5 (1)This ultra-slim, precision-crafted laptop with a narrow border and optional ultra-bright display delivers an optimal viewing experience. It has loud top-firing speakers, HP Noise Cancellation, a world-facing third microphone and collaboration keys to keep online meetings and conference calls efficient and effective.

Quickly transition to desktop productivity with the optional HP Thunderbolt Dock G2, a traditional side dock or a single USB-C™-cable.

The EliteBook 830 G5 and 840 G5 are now available in iQuote for AMS and EMEA.  There are lots of models available so login to iQuote and take a look today!

iQuote is Configure, Price, Quote Software developed for HP Inc. by www.channelcentral.net

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The HP ProBook 455 G5

February 1, 2018

New to iQuote.

PROD_PBK455G5Stay productive in and out of the office on the thin, light and full-featured HP ProBook 455. Long battery life and powerful 7th Gen AMD Pro A-Series APUs compliment the linear precision and subtle curvature of the sophisticated design. An ultra-slim chassis in a refined new natural silver finish includes a keyboard deck made of durable premium stamped aluminium.

Users can quickly transition to desktop productivity with a single cable that supports docking via USB-C™ which allows you to connect multiple external displays.  The Battery life gets you through the workday and beyond with fast charge (90%) in 90 minutes. With HP noise cancellation users can suppress ambient noise, including keyboard clicks.

The HP ProBook 455 is now available in HP iQuote for quoting with the following models:

AMS: 3PP87UT, 3PP94UT, 3PP98UT

EMEA: 3KY25EA, 3GH81EA, 3GH82EA, 3GH83EA, 3GH84EA, 3GH85EA, 3GH86EA, 3GH87EA, 3GH88EA, 3GH89EA

Login to iQuote today!

iQuote is Configure, Price, Quote Software developed for HP Inc. by www.channelcentral.net

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Signs you need to improve the way you quote customers

January 26, 2018

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For some, if you’re sending out quotes and hitting your targets, that may be enough, but often with our customers, we can find at least one area to improve.

 

 

We have some key questions that we ask to help us find out:

How long are your quotes taking to get out of the door?
If quotes can be made quickly they are more likely to result in sales success. If you’re finding, due to complexity, that your quotations have multiple touch points internally (or even throughout your supply chain), it can cause delays. Or perhaps you’re so busy, your teams’ just haven’t got time to respond to leads efficiently. It might be time to assess how you can shorten the cycle and improve quote conversion rates by 30%*.

Are your sales teams discounting too much?
In anticipation of winning a deal it is quite common to offer large discounts and these are not always feasible or financially viable for the business.  It can be difficult to manage even if staff are told not to go below a threshold. Looking at ways to manage discounting and grow attach rates will help protect profit margins. You could increase monthly quotation values by as much as 40%*!

How are your quotes calculated?
So many people are still using good old-fashioned spreadsheets! However good they are at using them, manual calculations always leave room for mathematical errors and out of date information. Sales Teams should be quoting with real-time information. Moving away from spreadsheets will not only speed up the quotation process but will decrease the chances of human error.

Do you require product specialists or solution architects to help your sales teams quote?
When specialist staff are required to support the sales team this not only increases your overheads but delays your quotation cycle. If you’re selling complex products it is impossible to expect your sales team to know the technicalities and compatibility of what might be thousands of products, but there is a more efficient way of supporting them.  You could reduce workload by as much as 50%*.

Is your customer service team spending too much time rectifying orders and managing returns? What if they could be using that time offering courtesy calls and managing customer satisfaction instead? If quotations are accurate and 100% validated every time, not only does it speed up the sales cycle but it can reduce the number of enquiries/complaints and reduce the impact of managing costly returns by 4.9%*!

Are customers waiting too long for delivery?
This might be because they are accepting quotations for products that are out of stock. If stock was transparent then an alternative solution could be found and delivery made quickly.

Is your customer base growing more quickly than your sales team?
Not a bad problem to have, but you will lose business if you can’t respond to all your leads. Harder still, when those leads are coming in from other countries with language and currency barriers. What if you could remove these barriers to entry and operate in any market where there is business?

After this quick assessment, there is a strong chance that at least one of these areas for improvement is an on-going issue in your business. So rather than just carrying on doing things the way they have always been done, let’s try and fix it.

Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) Software is designed to:

•    Reduce sales cycles
•    Protect profit margins
•    Ensure accuracy with built-in validation
•    Be your product expert
•    Provide real-time information including stock and pricing
•    Operate in multiple languages and currencies

And much more beyond!

CPQ Software can be offered as standalone or integrated within webstores either as a plug-in or a single web service call, enabling customers to self-serve and manage their own complex quotations.

If you think it is time to improve the way you quote your customers then get in touch, for an informal discussion or download our whitepaper on Increasing Revenue and Reducing Workload to learn more.

*Source Data: HP and Westcoast Case Study “Westcoast empowers resellers with quotation tool”