Posts Tagged ‘CPQ’

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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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Simplified Network Deployment and Management for Small Organizations

March 21, 2017

The HPE OfficeConnect 1920S Switch Series is designed for small businesses that require enhanced performance to support bandwidth-demanding applications.

They are ideal for environments that require advanced features for granular control and where smart-managed flexibility is a must for easy network configuration and management. The switches are advanced smart-managed fixed configuration Gigabit switches that are optimized for small business price/performance. They offer 8-, 24- and 48-port configurations, choice of PoE+ and non-PoE+ models; some include SFP slots for fiber connectivity.

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The following SKUs are now available in iQuote for quoting:

Worldwide SKUs: JL380A, JL381A, JL382A, JL383A, JL384A, JL386A

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

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Easy Connect is now in iQuote!

February 3, 2017

We are pleased to announce the introduction of Easy Connect BTO (ProLiant EC200a) products to iQuote, extending the portfolio of products on offer.

EasyConnectAn Easy Connect configurator has been specifically designed and developed into iQuote to assist users in navigating the complex product rules.   Users of iQuote are now able to configure Easy Connect products through a simple step by step wizard to ensure an accurate configuration every time.

Once you have selected your Easy Connect SKU, users are prompted to start the wizard:

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After starting the wizard, users are asked a series of questions to select from such as:

  • Model
  • Storage and Accessories
  • Operating System
  • Additional Services
  • Hardware and Support

On response to all of the questions, users are given the option to ‘Update Basket’ as shown below:

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Easy Connect will then form part of your quotation and users can be assured of a fully validated configuration. We hope that you will enjoy using the new Easy Connect configurator and that it gives you the confidence to quote this great new addition to the iQuote product portfolio!

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See the All New iCreate Software for Westcoast!

January 30, 2017

iCreateWe are delighted to announce the latest release of our iCreate Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) Software for Westcoast Distribution. The Software is now bigger and better than ever. It has never been easier for Resellers to sell the entire HP PC range to their customers’ exact requirements.

Here are just a few of the reasons Resellers should be using iCreate from Westcoast Distribution:

  • Configure the HP Workstation range
  • Configure the NEW HP Premium range
  • Configure by graphics card
  • Export validated quotes to Excel for upload directly into HP’s bid system
  • Save and name popular configurations for future use
  • Full slot configuration and accessory selection
  • Maximise your margin opportunity

And best of all…it is simple and easy to navigate!

Use the Westcoast iCreate tool today for all your HP business. Visit Westcoast iCreate.

iCreate is developed exclusively for Westcoast Distribution by channelcentral.net. channelcentral specialise in quotation software to enable the IT Channel Worldwide.

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How can you manage multiple Vendors and your entire Channel more efficiently?

November 30, 2016

email2_09Configuring, Pricing, and Quoting products from multiple Vendors can be a challenge for any Distributor or Reseller. Now you can manage them with a single tool and shorten your quote-to-order cycle, ensure quote accuracy and align your go-to-market strategies.

Multi-Vendor Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) Software can manage all of your product data feeds, configuration rules, pricing and stock for all of your chosen Vendors’ product lines.

With Multi-Channel capability it can be used by your internal sales/technical/product teams, your customers and even your customers’ own customers!

Freebird CPQ Software, developed by channelcentral.net is a service which offers Multi-Vendor, Multi-Channel and multiple product types too.  Watch our latest video to learn more about Freebird.

To discuss Freebird, contact us today. CPQ solutions from channelcentral will save your company money on IT expenditure, whilst increasing the efficiency of your sales teams and your eCommerce reach with your customers.

Visit http://www.channelcentral.net/freebird.asp