Posts Tagged ‘CPQ Software’

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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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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”

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iQuote New Feature – Competitive Selector

December 19, 2017

A new and exciting feature has just been added to iQuote for Hewlett Packard Enterprise users. It is called the Competitive Selector and is designed for iQuote users to be able to compare like for like quotes. Let’s look at an example:

A customer tells their Account Manager that they have been quoted a DELL XXXX, and asks what HPE has to offer. The Account manager can go into iQuote and open up the Competitive Selector. Using the filters such as system type, form factor and product, iQuote can run an intelligent query to browse similar HPE products. The Account Manager will then be given a list of recommended HPE systems.

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If users are looking to compare recommended products, there is an enhanced feature of the Competitive Selector called Key Selling Points. By hovering over the Key Selling Points button (visible when data is available) in Recommended HPE Systems, users will be presented with a list of the best features to aid with decision making:

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It has never been easier to find and quote the right HPE solution. Login to iQuote today and see how much more HPE business you can win by using the Competitive Selector! Launch it from the Homepage:

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iQuote is a Configure, Price, Quote tool developed for Hewlett Packard Enterprise by www.channelcentral.net

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Accessorize your quotes!

September 4, 2017

Accessories and ServicesWe are delighted to announce a new product category in iQuote 2 for all accessories and services. This category has been introduced in iQuote 2 for  both Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc.

What does this mean for the user?
 If you are using the new iQuote 2, it means you can now enhance your quotes to build a complete solution for your customers, increase your attach rates and in turn your revenue potential!

What accessories can you expect to find?
From additional memory, cables, batteries, and USB devices through to laptop bags and monitors, there are plenty of accessories to choose from.

The accessories feature is now live in iQuote 2 for users to start enhancing their quotes. Login to iQuote 2 today and start building your quotes.

iQuote is Configure, Price, Quote Software developed by channelcentral.net for Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc.

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Celebrating a Decade in the Channel

August 29, 2017

August 2017 marks 10 years of channelcentral being in business. We are incredibly excited to be celebrating. It has taken a lot of hard work to get to where we are today, made slightly harder by the Global Recession that coincided with our launch!

In August 2007 channelcentral started as a team of just 4 people working out of a spare rooms. A year later, our flagship product, iQuote, was born. Today, iQuote is used around the world in over 60 countries by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. customers. This configure, price, quote (CPQ) software has helped grow their businesses and provide efficiencies within sales teams in hundreds of Distributors and Resellers.

Off the back of iQuote’s success, channelcentral has been able to develop new CPQ Software services, Product Selectors, B2B Sales Portals, and Smartphone Apps as well as many custom built developments to assist the IT Channel. Our Software has been shortlisted for a few awards along the way too!

Today, channelcentral has 2 UK offices and a presence in the US and Colombia to support it’s ever growing business. With 29 members of staff, many of which have come from the IT Channel and are experts in their field, channelcentral is looking forward to the next 10 years and developing many more software solutions for IT Vendors, Distributors and Resellers.

At our Company Meeting held in August 2017 we reflected on the last 10 years and enjoyed an obligatory cake. A huge Thank You to all of our customers for helping us get this far. We wish we could have saved you some cake!

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Best Performing Zero Client

July 10, 2017

HP t310 Zero Client

t310_ZC_tcm245_2369385_tcm245_2463541_tcm245-2369385Speed through workloads with the HP t310 G2 Zero Client. HP’s best performing zero client has the high performance you want and the security you need. Plus, deployment and management are simple, helping to get all devices up and running quickly.

Here are the key benefits to the HP t310:

  • Reduce lag and finish ahead of deadlines with fast boot and response times, even with 3D applications.
  • Improve productivity by connecting display and accessory add-ons with two additional USB ports and an extra DisplayPort™.
  • With no data stored on the HP t310 G2 Zero Client, your intellectual property stays safe on your secure server.
  • The HP t310 G2 Zero Client easily connects to VDI or cloud servers, including VMWare® and Amazon Workspaces environments.

Login to iQuote today and add a quote to basket. The following models are available:

In AMS: 2EZ54AA; 2FU10AA; 1MV55UA; 2FU11AA; 1MV54UA

In EMEA: 2EZ54AA; 2EZ54AT

iQuote is CPQ Software developed for HP Inc. by www.channelcentral.net