Archive for June, 2009

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iQuote for Notebooks, Desktops and Workstations is Live

June 11, 2009

A few articles ago we mentioned that iQuote was capable of handling any type of product. This week Ingram Micro has launched iQuote in the UK across HP’s Top Value Notebooks, Desktops and Workstations. There were a number of different challenges to work through using our experience and work with HP ProLiant servers as a platform to build this. These issues are now behind us.

We are acclimatising to the shorter product life-cycles present in Client Computing. As with the HP ProLiant iQuote Ingram Micro’s iQuote will arrive at the best possible price and steer users to additional savings through Bundles. It’s been a lot of fun and hard work to set this up. Ingram Micro’s customers can look forward to a simpler and faster quotation process, with the potential to provide more competitive offers.

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The Eight Minute Wonder

June 9, 2009

3338225167_5630103f4a_mPrior to setting up channelcentral.net I was employed by Computacenter in a variety of Product Management and Marketing roles. Of all the ideas and projects that I was involved with two stood out and made an actual difference to that business. One was called the Virtual Assistants: a term now more commonly associated with job share home-based PAs. The VAs were a forerunner to iQuote. The other was a range of a dozen or so Sales Education Guides called The Eight Minute Experts.

The Eight Minute Experts were created for HP and the target audience was Sales people working in Resellers. Why Eight Minutes? The inspiration for the title came from the length of time it took to smoke a cigarette (I don’t smoke by the way) – you could read the guide in the same amount of time it took (or waited in Reception for a meeting). The imagery was a break from the norm: pictures of computers, data centres or business people in office atriums were replaced by hippies in fields (honestly).

They were fairly consistent in approach: who would buy, why demand existed, business issues to be solved, technology explanations, margin opportunities and complementary solutions. I covered PDAs, Notebooks, Workstations, Wireless Networks, Digital Imaging, Colour Printing, Print Consolidation, Blade Servers, Racks, Storage Area Networks, Tape Drive Automation…

They were very popular – the formula was just right and nobody was doing anything similar. Anyone could understand them as they assumed no level of knowledge – anyone could be an expert…in 8 Minutes. When points were explained I tried to use references that people would understand: for depreciation I used Fiat Punto!

I still offer copywriting services through channelcentral.net. Case studies, sales guides, training guides, brochures, technology articles. More on that later.

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If its good enough for Google….

June 8, 2009

Google has recently announced Google Wave. Named after the Firefly TV Series (or some element of – clearly not the Series Title). It is set to totally change the Browser experience for users in terms of how people use email and instant messaging to communicate. If you are struggling to make the connection between this Blog and Google Wave….if you’ve used iQuote you have been enjoying the core enabling technology for Google Wave. How clever are we? Well how clever is Dan in truth…you’ve been “Waving” and you didn’t know it!

http://wave.google.com/

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Back to the Beginning: Measurement

June 8, 2009

iQuote has dominated this Blog over the past few weeks and this is no surprise given the progress the team has made. Some of the recent work on Quotation Analysis: utilisation and attach selling was a good reminder of how channelcentral.net started life: Measurement. The old adage: to know where you are going means you need to know where you are now (or something very like that) is as true today as it ever has been. Why? Organisations need to improve to compete.

Our combination of Product Management and Development is applied outside of Sales Quotation services. It can also help businesses measure areas of performance including product, category, sales person, margin and attach-selling. Our methodology for helping businesses run better incentives is no different from how we help businesses provide better quotations.

Our Incentive service provides complete automation, total transparency, granular measures translated to business themes and trends, tax compliance, regular performance updates and complex targeting: simplified. If your business still runs Incentives over email/spreadsheet with infrequent updates, simple measures and unspectacular results maybe it is time to consider change?

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iQuote New User Function

June 8, 2009

2696885129_e0151e9d37From today iQuote Admin (aka Super) Users will be able to set up new users through the Management Portal. There is benefit for channelcentral.net as we no longer need to provide user credentials once the first Super User has been set up. It’s not just about removing effort and therefore cost for us. Allowing customers the ability to set up new users means that they can be far more agile and iQuote rollout can be more easily managed by our customers.

As new employees join Sales teams it can be frustrating if they need to wait for new logins to systems to be issued. With the new User Function new starters or people that move into a product sales role can get quick access to iQuote. For a more personal touch the welcome email comes from the Super User with the natural reply email pointing in that direction too.

Coming soon: the ability to remove obsolete accounts and to promote standard users to Super Users.

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The Best Price Every Time

June 8, 2009

Today is a significant one for iQuote. As well as support for Fixed Bundles iQuote can now also support Flexible Bundles. These are discounts that are applied to options when purchased with System Units up to a Maximum Quantity. This is to cater for a common request: you may want to only offer a Saving on an option when it is attached to a System Unit and there is a maximum quantity you would want to discount; but you don’t want to be prescriptive in the way the customer has to purchase options.

The result is that iQuote will always provide the user with the best available price AND steer users in the direction of available savings. It’s the kind of agility that is currently enjoyed by FMCG & Supermarkets. Now it can be easily applied to Technology products in Channel.

One irony is that as iQuote has become better at handling promotional pricing it allows the Manufacturer to execute more complex promotional schemes…bring it on !

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A Models…we need your opinion.

June 1, 2009

iQuote currently offers Top Value System Units – ‘T’ Models. We do get asked about non Top Value System Units – ‘A’ Models. But what do you want?