Make your Website PunchOut Ready and get more B2B Customers

pexels-photo-89724Want to make the purchasing process of your B2B buyers painless? Want to connect with your large customers in a better way? Well, the first thing that you need to do is make your website PunchOut ready. SAP and OCI are the popular providers of PunchOut functionality. You can use either SAP or OCI PunchOut catalog to make your website PunchOut enabled.

Customers with bigger contracts are looking for greater convenience and efficiency when it comes to purchasing products from their vendors. This can be achieved easily by using PunchOut, a protocol that simplifies online catalog shopping of big customers. The catalog content from the procurement system can be accessed with a single click without entering login credentials (username and password). In short, it gives buyers a single point of entry to their catalog content.

PunchOut catalog provides a convenient interface wherein the customer gets direct access to his own Contract catalog with pre-approved products and pricing. This eliminates the burden of searching supplier’s entire catalog. So the purchase order created by the customers will always contain products with contract pricing. This reduces purchase order revisions, thereby improving efficiency in the ordering process.

As a vendor, you can give access to latest content and pricing to your B2B buyer. You are able to provide accurate information to your buyers. This ensures there are no pricing errors in purchase orders created by your buyer. You no longer have to handle same order twice on account of errors, in turn saving your time and unnecessary costs.

Moreover vendors offering OCI or SAP PunchOut are able to automate their customer’s approval process. Neither the vendor nor the customers are involved in printing, scanning & faxing the orders. The customer only has to send a notification alert through their procurement system in order to confirm the quotes. This helps to speed up the ordering process considerably.


Is PunchOut a Customized Website?

21 MARCHOften referred to as buyer specific catalog, a PunchOut website is a customized solution that is designed keeping the user’s requirements in mind. A PunchOut catalog that establishes a direct connection between the supplier’s website and the customer’s procurement system helps to ease the purchasing process.

Unlike the traditional way, the customer doesn’t have to login with his credentials to view the supplier’s website. A single click enables the customer to access the site. This feature automates the ordering process, with suppliers receiving purchase orders via email.

Every PunchOut catalog solution is unique and setup differently. It is customized in the sense that customers get to view products that fall under their contract agreement. So the contract catalog will have products that the customer is entitled to purchase.  It is a pre-approved contract, which will not contain products that the customer cannot order. The inventory as well as the pricing information in the catalog is as per the terms of contract agreement. So there is no question of purchasing products that violate contract policies.

A PeopleSoft PunchOut catalog offers a personalized shopping experience that is both seamless and memorable. With this website, the supplier can show relevant recommendations (upsell and cross-sell) as well as offer discounts that are targeted to that specific customer. The supplier can also do promotions that are also aimed at that particular shopper. So whatever offers and suggestions displayed on the site are unique, hence provide more customer engagement.

On the whole, a SciQuest PunchOut provides an easy way to access pre-negotiated contract catalog through procurement system. Moreover, it is personalized to each shopper, hence can help to boost brand loyalty and increase customer retention. So as a supplier if you want to woo large buyers, make sure that you sell products via PunchOut.

5 Myths about Proposal Management Software

Request for proposal quotation from customers is the first step towards initiating business negotiation. You can win more deals, provided the proposals are created based on customer needs. Creating professional looking client proposals is the key to get the sales order. So in the context of winning business dealings, you simply cannot undermine the importance of proposal creation.

Proposal creation can be a daunting task when done manually. In order to maximize deals and speed up the sales cycle, proposal software is often recommended.  However, there are some long-standing myths that have branded the software as inefficient and undesirable.

The following blog busts the myths of this proposal management software:

  • Creating Proposals through Software is Time Consuming

The main purpose of this online proposal software is to save time in creating proposals. It essentially automates the process of proposal creation. Just a few inputs to the software will allow you to create proposal in minutes. In other words, proposal software is a convenient way to expedite your proposal creation process. Depending upon the business type, every proposal has a specific format that does not have to be created from scratch when using the software. So using the software to create proposals is neither tedious nor time consuming.

  • Not Possible to Customize Automated Proposals

Yes, the software automates the proposal creation process but that doesn’t mean you cannot personalize your proposals. First of all, the software creates the proposal template, which is the outline or the layout of the proposal.  This is the generic content that is often applicable to all proposals. The software automates this process, which means you don’t have to waste time in making template, every time you want to create a new proposal. However, the purpose part of the proposal can always be customized as per your business needs.

  • Creating Winning Proposals Using the Software is Tedious

This is yet another myth that needs to be debunked. Just because the software enables you to create proposal quickly, it would be wrong to assume that the software cannot generate winning proposals that are unique and professional. The proposal generated is attractive, effective, and professional in appearance, which can certainly have a positive impact on the customer.

  • Automating the Proposal Creation Process can cause more Errors

This can happen only if the proposal software is itself faulty, which is rare. Keep in mind that the software is designed to reduce your burden of creating the proposal manually. The manual process is repetitive, time-consuming, and hence prone to errors. However, this labor intensive work of proposals can be easily avoided by using this software. So automating the proposal creation process drastically reduces the chances of errors.

  • Usage of Proposal Automation Software can Negatively Affect your Ability to Write Proposals

Relying on the automation process does not in any way rob you of your proposal-writing skills. As aforementioned, customizing the proposal is the key to gain clients. This customization section is where your proposal skills are put to test. This is where you have to use the software tool sensibly so that the proposal can be personalized as per customer needs.  The software automates the repetitive tasks that are required to be fulfilled to prepare every proposal.

On the whole, when it comes to creating beautiful proposals within a short time, you can always depend on proposal management software. It can definitely play a key role in streamlining your sales and increase your win rate.

Mobile Quoting Apps: Solution to thrive your business

Quoting is an essential Sales activity of any organization which takes up almost 32% of the sales bandwidth, however not much has been done in this space for a very long time. There are a lot of companies that still uses the Excel spreadsheets for their day to day quoting needs. There are a few more that uses some ad hoc desktop based or cloud based applications. However “Quoting” is such an important function that requires to be given strategic importance in any business decisions.

Traditionally Sales people would use either Excel spreadsheets or some online or offline quoting tools. While having such technology is definitely better then ad hoc quoting, however they do come with their own share of limitations such as:

  • Have to be in office to prepare the quotation.
  • Sales People are traveling heavily and hence there are delays in producing quotes.
  • No central repository of information to access from anywhere.
  • Lost sales due to delays in providing the quote.
  • Long process to create a quoting.

In the last few years there have been some improvements that has made Sales person’s job a lot better. The wave of mobile devices has become essential for organizations to use them to their fullest potential. Also, the emergence of Cloud has become vital to gain success. The organizations that have capitalized on these particular areas have seen huge success. Now with a basic internet connection the salesmen are able to access their work place from anywhere and anytime of the day.

Many traditional quoting solution providers are now also providing their software as a mobile application. Today, the Mobile Quoting Apps are so accurate and efficient that a brilliant quoting for your customers can be prepared within a minute’s time even when you are holidaying with your family on a beach. It has some distinct advantages that every sales person can vouch for.

Features of a good Mobile Quoting Tool would involve:

  • Instant Quoting: We live in a not-so-patient society. Most of us want the product immediately. The Mobile Quoting App has taken the “wait” out. When a customer requests for the quotation of a product, the Mobile App’s proposal software and Sales Quoting Tools will help you to create a quotation easily in just couple of minutes.
  • Interactivity: The most important fact is that you have the visibility of your business on the mobile’s home screen. Getting to your desktop can take time, but it takes a second to launch a Mobile App on your phone. This leads to great flexibility in working – for example, enabling home working, or working while traveling.
  • Time-Management: The sales representatives who are traveling most of the time can benefit through Mobile Quoting Tool/App by simply logging into their smart phones. Create a professional and competent quoting while standing at airport so that your customers do not have to wait until you reach your desktop. It shrinks the cycle of closing the sales.
  • Quick user response: Once the quotation is accepted by the customer, a notification would be sent which you can check on your Mobile App and revert back to your customer. In case the changes are required it could be done by Salesmen right away for customer’s better experience. Now days, RFQ and RFP could be dealt immediately by the new Mobile Quoting Tool/App.
  • Cloud computing: How powerful would you feel if you’re carrying a world of information in your mobile phone? The cloud computing is getting popular by each day due to its accessibility and flexibility. It allows you to work from any part of their world as long as you have access to a normal internet connection and control the quoting.

As Forbes contributor Christine Crandell writes, “In the eyes of a buyer, pricing a purchase should be easy and quick.”

Today the case studies have revealed that if you’re able to produce a quotation to your customer right away, it hikes your chance by 63% to win that deal. Mobile quoting is no longer a luxury, but a must have App to ensure that you’re leading the competition.

5 Automation Tools That Every Reseller Must Use

Over the past few years, the resellers have emerged as the holistic solution providers, rather than only product sellers.  As they continue to expand their product and services portfolio, it also opens doors for new sales opportunities.  But, what else follows is a cut throat competition, a dynamic market and high customer expectations.  Consequently, resellers are struggling to sustain on razor thin margins, coupled with the challenges to increase efficiency and remain a differentiator from the herd.

Right from preparing a Sales Quote  to shipping the product, there are several touch points in a typical sales process. If you are still relying on spreadsheets or stand alone tools,  it is quite likely that:

  • You are committing human errors at the touch points.
  • You are missing out on leveraging new sales opportunities.
  • You are losing your revenue and repeat business.
  • You are not focusing on servicing your customers.

How do you plan to survive, let alone thrive in the VAR industry in such a scenario? Well, automation is the solution. Automation can consolidate all manual touch points; speed up your sales process; optimize your resources and ensure a complete visibility and control over the entire value chain.

Here are five automation tools that every reseller must have in his kitty.

  1. E-commerce

An e-commerce store can build your brand visibility and open up new markets for you.  It will act as a 24/7 powerful web interface for you and your customers because of its multi-vendor functionality features. The price book, inventory, quote, order fulfillment and shipment – all processes are automated.  It will also generate upsell and cross sell suggestions to the buyers, thereby increasing chances to earn more revenue.  The scope of human intervention is almost negligible, and entire process follows a methodical route, thereby reducing your overall costs. Additionally, you can pull out precanned reports on your transactions and traffic, to study consumer behaviour and also to monitor your processes.

  1. Quoting Tool

Ms-Word, Ms-Excel – is that what your sales reps still use to generate quotes? Well, it’s about time you switch to a web based sales quoting tools . It will not only generate sophisticated and accurate quotes, but also improve the productivity of your sales team and shorten the sales cycle. Further, an automated quoting tool can be easily integrated with CRM, accounting and other business applications, in order to access data across different functions conveniently.  The sales rep can fetch real time prices and availability from multiple distributors; and create customizable quotes quickly for the customers. In fact, you can even accept online payments from your customers through an electronic signature!

  1. Catalog Aggregation

Thousands of existing products, new product additions, new features, constantly changing prices and multiple distributors – a sales rep can spend hours on his desk, trying to figure out the right product-price combination for the customer. But, not if he is using an aggregated Catalog , which can be mapped to all distributors and suppliers to fetch real time and tailor made information for every customer on his fingertips. It is also possible to build custom catalog, contract catalog management, bundles and standards in your aggregated Catalog to offer a versatile price list to the customers.

  1. Mobile Quoting App

The mobile technology has picked up its pace in the VAR market too, and customers are literally expecting quoting solutions on the go.  Equipping your sales reps with a mobile quoting application on their smart phones or tablets is similar to handing them over a digital briefcase.  It will give them real time information anywhere, anytime; generate customized quotes for viewing and acceptance from customers via emails; and get on the spot approvals and payments.  Do you already see a happier sales team and a shortened sales cycle?

  1. Marketing

The advent of technology and emergence of big data has taken marketing to the new heights. It was only a matter of time, that the marketing process too gets automated for achieving better results and measure the real time ROI on your investments.  An e-marketing module can serve as a one stop tool, which can manage and integrate all your marketing activity – promotional campaigns, SEO & SMO optimization, email marketing, multi-channel selling, landing page creation and web analytics.

With the above tools, resellers can reduce the number of manual processes; lower the upfront and hidden costs; deploy the sales force optimally; and focus on the relationships with the customers, suppliers and distributors. To sum it up, these tools will empower the resellers to sustain as well as excel profitably amidst the stiff competition in the market.

Why We Love Sales Process Automation (And You Should Too!)

Let’s begin with some statistics.

  1. According to a 2014 CSO Insights study on sales performance optimization, it was found that salespeople spend a majority of their day performing administrative and account management duties and only 37% of their time actually selling.
  1. The average sales cycle showed an increase of 22% over the last five years.
  1. According to Bulldog Solutions, companies that invest in marketing automation solutions see 70% faster sales cycle times and 54% improvement in quota achievement.

What do these figures tell you? While the first and second order talk about the lost business opportunities, the third one shows a solution to leverage on these opportunities.

Humans err, and so do your sales people. It would take only a superhuman sales rep to remember every contact, appointment, conversation or deadline. Hence, what your business needs is a sales enablement tool, which not only automates and streamlines the sales process, but also enhances the productivity of your sales team and drives revenue for your enterprise.  That’s the power of implementing technology in your sales process!

Sales process automation reduces the number of opportune hours, days or even months, which are usually lost to ineffective or piecemeal communication with the customers in a typical sales process. Right from establishing an initial contact with the customers to closing the deal, sales process automation manages and integrates all phases of the sales process.

Here is a quick overview of the benefits of syncing your sales process with automation.

  1. Catalog Management

When you are selling millions of products, it is practically a mammoth task to manually maintain information on every product, category, supplier and distributor. Add to this the varying product taxonomy furnished by each manufacturer! However, with catalog management, your sales reps can manage the entire product catalog electronically. They can view, compare, research or cross – reference all products, prices and inventory at their fingertips in one single window.

  1. Customer & Contact Maintenance

Just like a single aggregated catalog, automation can also create a one stop repository of all your customers and contacts. The customer’s contact information, appointments, interactions and follow-ups can be easily viewed and maintained.

  1. Rich Content

Images, descriptions, tech specification, 3D views, instructions, comparisons  –  your sales reps can impress your customers with an interactive and information rich content, all thanks to an automated catalog.

  1. CRM, PSA, Accounting & ERP Integration

Let’s say you already automated your accounting or customer relationship systems in place. Or that ERP is already up and running well in your organization. But may we ask if all these systems are stand alone ones or fully integrated? Integration refers to 100% automation and consolidation of all your business processes and systems. For example, when your sales rep creates a new contact in CRM system, people working on ERP or Accounting software should get a real time update too, without needing to make a duplicate entry. This way, not only there is a smooth, standard workflow between all processes, but there is also a full visibility to rectify errors, if any.

  1. Quote Template

As soon as the customer expresses an interest, the first thing that a sales rep does is to prepare a quote. And the faster he prepares and sends the quote, the more are the chances of  a deal closure. The quote templates embedded in sales quoting software can assist sales reps to create quick, professional and accurate quotes within no time. A proposal software equips them with every piece of information that is necessary to improve the win rate.

  1. Sourcing & Procurement

Can you ensure that your sales quote offers you the highest possible margin? Yes, you can, after you have streamlined and automated your sales process. While preparing a quote, you can be rest assured that you are getting real time distributor feeds with respect to price and inventory. Once that is taken care of and the customer has approved your quote, all your sales rep has to do is to key in few buttons. Voila, next thing you know, the quote has been converted into an order and the product is ready to be shipped to the customer!

  1. Tax, Shipping & Freight Calculations

Varying rates of tax, shipping and freight slabs in different countries can add to the woes of sales reps while preparing a quote. But, an automated set up can generate accurate rates within seconds. Even, when there is a change in either of these rates, the system will give a real time update. No more manual and time consuming calculations!

  1. Payment Gateway Integration

With a vast array of payment options (credit, debit, check, mobile, EBT, FSA) and card brands (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, PayPal) available to the customers, automation can ensure a safe and real-time payment solution. Your sales rep can ensure a quick collection of payment, and avoid frequent follow-ups with the customers.

  1. E commerce & Mobile

When B2B customers migrate online, average value order is reported to increase by 44%. E-commerce and mobile are two trending sales channels, not yet tapped by the resellers to its maximum potential to grow the business. Showcasing your products on an e-storefront will help you to micro-target your customers; simplify your sales process; and let your sales reps focus more on customer relationship.

  1. Reports & Analytics

Since your entire sales process is integrated with other business systems and applications, you can pull out real-time and adhoc reports anytime for any function. Whether you want to scan through the performance of your sales team; review sales status & progress; measure the distributor or category wise sales; or get the minutest analytics of your online traffic, sales automation can generate accurate reports for you to analyze; forecast sales; and decide on a future course of action for your business.

  1. Data Security

Automation helps your sales reps in sharing data remotely and on the go. But that doesn’t mean that you have to worry about the security of your data. The automated tools are preloaded with security tools and other security checks at various levels. This way, you can assign admin controls and workflow approvals appropriately.

Sales process automation equips the salesforce with insight driven approach and also, adds value to customer engagement.

How about  the sales process in your business, it is already automated? If not, think about it!

4 Ways How Custom Catalog, Bundles and Standards Can Improve Your E-store Usability and Profitability

With an increasing number of resellers designing branded e-commerce stores to sell their products and services online, the digital war has heated up in the VAR market. This is also an indication that margins will continue taking a substantial dip, thereby immensely hitting a reseller business’s bottom line. Unless you are able to offer a versatile yet client specific range of products and services, it would be really difficult for you to position yourself as a strong player in the market. Today, IT customers expect catalogs that are specifically tailor made for their procurement requirements. Hence, to retain their existing customers and pitch the sales to the new ones, it’s of utmost importance that resellers not only sell their products and services as separate SKUs but also bundle them together.

Custom Catalogs, Bundles and Standards are smart, powerful and highly differentiating must -have modules on a VAR’s online store. It can prove to be your vantage point in a number of ways. Here’s how.

1. Upload your own specialty products and services

Custom Catalog can link your customers to the products that do not flow through the distributors already mapped to your aggregated or collective catalog. What is more, you can add your own categories, sub-categories or manufacturer’s details to the custom SKUs. For example, if you are providing in-house services, then you can put your name as a manufacturer and then track it to the end.

2. Rich content from Etilize

You can facilitate your customers to get real time access to rich content, product images, product comparisons and tech specs by directly linking your Custom Catalog to Etilize content, wherever available. This not only makes your Custom Catalog look more powerful, but also standardizes it as per universally accepted VAR taxonomy.

3. Configure Bundles and Standards

Taking your Bundles and Standards to your e-commerce store can work wonders to bump up your profit margins. In fact, you can create preconfigured, customized bundles and standards with your own sell price or price derived out of the cost of the components added to the bundle. You can even add products and services to the bundle from your collective catalog, custom catalog, contract catalog or any combination of these.


 4. Online Viewing for quote and purchase

Now that your Custom Catalogs, Bundles and Standards have gone digital, they can be quickly made available to your back office for sales quote programs. This way, your sales rep can search and add items from Custom Catalog too. Similarly, your customers can also view or request quotes and place their orders online. Either ways, it certainly maximizes your potential sell through!

VARStreet’s e-commerce platform supports the configuration of Custom Catalog, Bundles and Standards into your branded e-store, thereby making it possible for you to meet each and all needs of your customers. Contact us to learn more.