What are the Different Types of CPQ Tools

15startup-As we all know, a CPQ software comes into picture when requirements demand you to prepare complex quotations. Building a complex product configuration after considering all the possible combinations and moreover calculating its correct price can be a daunting task. But if you want to simplify your process, you can completely rely on this software tool that will enable sales reps to handle complexities of potential deal easily.

Now there are two main types of Configure Price Quote solutions – cloud-based or SaaS software applications, and the second one is the on premise or the in-house solutions. If you go for on-premise version, you need to install the CPQ tool on your company’s own servers. A lot has to be invested in infrastructure that includes hardware, network, backup and maintenance. As far as accessibility is concerned, in most cases they can be accessed from installation locations only.

Cloud-based CPQ tools are typically hosted on the vendor’s server and are made available through the Internet. This type of delivery model is most preferred as it comes with low initial cost and allows you to operate the tool as long as the device is connected to the Web. In majority of cases, sales reps in VAR business are not office-based, hence it makes sense to use cloud-based Sales quoting software solutions. Such tools are easily accessible, no matter where you are located or what type of device you are using.

These tools will allow your sales reps to create quotes on the go as most CPQ providers also offer simplified mobile extension of their current version of quoting module. So using mobile devices, you can access inventory and pricing coming from all your connected suppliers. This mobile app or one may say mobile quoting software will enable you to fulfill some of the most complex requirements from anywhere, anytime. This will reduce sales cycle and enable sales reps close deals faster.

Must-have Features in a CPQ Software

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A CPQ tool comes into picture when you have complex items to sell. The tool has been designed to efficiently handle complex sales cycle. Putting together a quote that requires configuring products and bundles is a time consuming activity but with this software tool, it takes only a few minutes to complete the task.

If your sales process involves quoting complex products, make sure your Configure price quote solution has the following features:

Available on Cloud

If you want to eliminate costly support and IT maintenance cost, cloud-based CPQ software is the way to go. Cloud-based means the software is hosted through the Internet. So you can easily access and operate the software application on any computer that has Internet connectivity. Irrespective of your location, you would be able to create some of the most complex quotes online. Moreover, your customers too can confirm and approve the quotes online, thereby eliminating tedious faxing formalities. All this contributes in speeding up the sales cycle and improving the customer experience.

Accessible by Mobile Devices

Sales reps often have to travel long distances to meet their prospective customers. So when there is extensive traveling throughout the year, going for mobile-ready CPQ solution is recommended. This means, wherever you bring a mobile device such as smartphone, you get access and are able to operate the software. So whether they are at their desk or on the run, managing complex quoting requirements is never a problem. So a cloud-based mobile quoting software gives your reps the flexibility to sell faster and from anywhere.

Built-in Reporting Module

Many CPQ tools comes with built-in reporting features that allow you to create sales reports. Reporting module is a powerful data analysis tool that can help to evaluate the performances of your sales team. Depending upon the criteria you can generate various reports such as quote history reports, order history reports, forecasts reports and many more to evaluate productivity of your team. Know quotes that have closed and current quotes in the pipeline. Identify new trends and accordingly make changes in your business to create new opportunities.

Improving Ecommerce Sales through different Distribution Channels

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, launching an ecommerce site is simply not enough to expand your business. It is imperative to think beyond your ecommerce site if you want to increase the visibility of your online products and improve ecommerce sales. This is because your website alone cannot reach the entire target market. So apart from selling products from your website, following are the different distribution channels that you should look for in order to grow your business:

Distribution Channels to Boost Ecommerce Sales

Online Marketplaces:

Taking the help of third-party marketplace channels is one of the best ways to extend the reach of your online sales. Studies show that eBay and Amazon dominate the online market space. Selling your products on these two biggest marketplaces can definitely help you to make substantial amount of profit. So start selling through these online companies and stop worrying about your business. You can rely on these two most dominant marketplaces as your source of customers. In order to increase the chances of sale on these marketplaces, make sure your product comes with a detailed product description, relevant image, and is backed by positive customer feedback and success stories.

Social Media:

Social media platform is another distributor channel that can contribute to improve ecommerce sales. You can reach out to more prospective clients and raise awareness about your ecommerce website through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. You can also use social media like Youtube to your benefit and drive more customers to your ecommerce website. For instance, you can advertise your video on Youtube to promote your products. If you are offering any special discounts for a limited period of time, they can also be advertised on social media to get the most out of your discount sales.

Blogs:

Content distribution channels like blogs can also work wonders to promote your business.  You can write blogs to market your business to target your audience. With blogs, you can discuss in detail about the product. Regularly updating your blogs with relevant keywords will make your content search engine friendly, thereby helping to increase traffic, generate leads, and create a positive impact about your website.

You can also use emails to keep your customers informed about your latest blog posts. So whenever you publish a new blog, just notify it to the customer through emails. The email should contain a link that redirects customers to your blog. This way you deliver your high quality content directly to your customers.

Physical Store:

It is observed that 92% of retailers do their business online, yet maintaining a physical store can help to target your customers’ expectations. For instance, a physical store will help to target those looking for an in-person customer experience. It can be a perfect complement to your online store. For certain products, customers want face-to-face interaction with store employees. They want to physically touch the product before purchasing it. With a physical store, you can give enhanced customer interaction with store employees, thereby increasing the chances of sale.

Also those who are unware of your ecommerce site, can be given a brief summary of your ecommerce business when they enter your physical store. This too can work to promote your ecommerce business. Also any product not available in the physical store can be easily purchased from your ecommerce store, thereby keeping your customers happy and satisfied, which is critical for long-term business success

So, when it comes to increasing ecommerce revenue at a much faster pace, you can rely on these aforementioned distribution channels that have the potential to bring new customers and impact sales volumes.

Can your Business Survive Without a Proposal Software?

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The answer to this question is a resounding ‘No’. Consider any successful VAR-related IT business and I am sure the CEO of that organization will tell you the importance of using proposal software. The point is when it comes to survival, you got to use technology that will make your business more streamline and profitable. Automation is the key to bring efficiency into your business operations and moreover will help to increase productivity of your staff and enable you to stay ahead of the competition.

A proposal software is something you can trust to streamline and automate your sales process. No matter how sophisticated your solution is, if your sales process is not dynamic and evolving, there is little possibility that your business will grow. A proposal software is an automated tool that can allow you to create effective proposals effortlessly. So using this software could be one of the best business practices to survive in today’s competitive environment.

Reasons behind Advocating Use of Proposal Software

  • Create Proposals with little Effort

Let’s face it; Writing and submitting proposals manually is extremely time consuming. This can always be avoided with Proposal Software that provides a quick and easy way to create proposals. The time spent on creating a proposal will reduce drastically using the software. It will save your hours in getting proposals ready for your customers. So instead of hours, you would spend minutes in generating proposals. In fact, your clients would be surprised about how fast you are submitting proposals to them. Clients don’t have to wait for long (which is what every customer is looking for) to receive a proposal.

  • Grab Prospects’ Attention

Proposals that are created using the software are sure to grab and hold the customers’ attention. This is because the software helps to generate attractive and visually engaging proposals. In short, the software also takes care of visual aspect of the proposal, which is equally important to generate interest of the customer in the proposal.

  • Get Higher Price

Consider this; you might be an expert in developing E-commerce Platform for your customers but if you are unable to create a good impression at the time of submitting proposals, don’t expect clients to pay a good price for your expertise. So if the proposals are not professionally presented, your prospect might not be willing to close the deal, despite having good credentials. To resolve this issue, you got to use the proposal software. The software allows you to produce highly attractive proposals that can help attract more customers and close more sales at higher prices. The professional-looking proposals created by the software are sure to attract more clients. Moreover, the software will help convince your customer that the solution you are providing is best to suit his needs. The software also has an eCommerce proposal template that can be customized as per the client requirements.

4 Ways to Improve Your E-commerce Conversion Rates

A retailer of IT products in an attempt to expand his business and increase sales often prefers to start his e-commerce site. Although an e-commerce platform can be helpful in this regard, it might not lead to increase in conversion rates, if the website is not designed properly. To be more specific, reports of online shoppers abandoning their shopping cart is common. Studies have revealed that on an average, customers tend to leave 68% of all online shopping carts.

So despite visiting the site and adding it to the cart, a majority of customers tend to abandon the cart, in turn causing an adverse impact on conversion rates. Following are some tips to resolve issues associated with e-commerce conversion killers.

Increase Visibility of Shopping Cart Button

Barely visible shopping cart button is one of the biggest reasons behind cart abandonment. What’s the point of starting an e-commerce store, if your customers are unable to find the ‘Add to Cart’ button. So make sure that the shopping cart buttons such as ‘Buy Now’ and ‘Add to Cart’ stand out from the surrounding elements on your website. For instance, the color of the button should be such that it grabs the visitor’s attention. A light button on a white background will give poor visibility to this button. Instead, choose contrast colors that can arrest attention of the most casual viewer.

The position of the shopping button is another factor that can improve visibility. Positioning it at the top of the page can make it highly visible. Also, as soon as the customer clicks on the ‘Add to Cart’ button, a pop-up window should appear at the top of the page, showing the number of items in the shopping cart. For instance, you can have ‘View Shopping Cart’ link on the pop-up window. Once the customer clicks on the link, he should be able to see all the shopping cart items along with the ‘Buy Now’ option. See image:

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No Registration Before Purchase

Registration before purchase can be a big put off for prospective buyers. It is an unnecessary obstacle that can drive your customers away from your e-commerce site. Imagine a customer has come to purchase the latest mobile and is eager to look at the different models but what he sees is the mandatory filling of registration form before purchase. This is sure to frustrate your customer to a great extent and he is likely to close your website never to return.

Many customers feel that forceful registration complicates the checkout process. Studies have shown that compulsory registration leads to 75% of visitors abandoning their shopping cart. To resolve this issue, providing a ‘check-out as guest’ option is advised.

Retailers should keep in mind that the visitor has come to their online store to begin his purchase ASAP and not to fill the registration form.  Also, lengthy registration forms can act as a great deterrent in completing the checkout process. So after the purchase has been made, the registration form should ask for basic information like name, phone number, email-id, and delivery address.

Another way to give your customers a trouble-free shopping experience is to go for ‘No registration at all’ option. This can considerably reduce the length of purchase and checkout process as the prospective buyer is exempted from the task of creating an account.  One e-commerce site found out that there was a whopping 45 % jump in sales when the customers were exempted from entering the registration requirements.

Increase your E-commerce Site Speed

Slow shopping cart is one of the biggest reasons behind increased abandonment rates. In today’s hyper-paced world, you simply cannot afford to have shopping cart pages that have a slow load time. 18% of online shoppers have sited slow load time as the main reason behind leaving their shopping cart. Short load time essentially speeds up the checkout process, which is what exactly the customer wants, so that they make a quick online shopping whenever need arises.

Slash Shipping Costs

Well, you might think that there is no reason why the customer shouldn’t buy from your site, as your items have a heavy discount. However, if your fee is high for shipping items, there is a high possibility that the customer may abandon the shopping cart. Let’s face it; customers don’t like to pay shipping costs, hence many prefer to buy from a physical store. So slashing shipping costs can work wonders to get closer to customers and improve conversion rates.

On the whole, your focus apart from increasing the visibility of shopping cart button , should also be on the checkout process when it comes to increasing sales. Your checkout process needs to be as simple as possible and should require minimum registration if any. In short, you should provide a hassle-free shopping experience to your customers in order to maximize revenue.

You can create your Online Store using VARStreet’s E-commerce Software

How to find the Best Quoting Software?

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When it comes to creating sales quote quickly, using the Proposal quoting software has always been the first choice for organizations that are into sales business. However, there are a plethora of options available for choosing quoting software applications and so it is natural to get confused about which is the right one that meets your requirements. The following blog will clear all your doubts as it discusses the various characteristics of the best quoting software.

  • Must be Cloud-based Software

Web-based software means the software should be accessible on the Internet. Just one version of the software is installed and maintained on a server, which is available to anyone who has an Internet connection. Web-based quoting solution eliminates the tedious task of installing it every time a client wants to use it. So if a sales quoting tool is web-based, customers can easily access it through a web browser. Web-based solutions are flexible, require no installation and can be easily customized according to customers’ requirements.

  • Must Integrate with CRM and other Relevant Apps

Most organizations use CRM integration software to streamline their sales process. So, you need to choose quoting software that easily integrates with CRM. CRM integration means that your sales quoting software and CRM will function together, which is critical to manage your customers as well as to obtain new leads.

The integration will ensure seamless flow of information between the two software applications. Also, when you are able to integrate your sales quoting tool with CRM and other relevant apps, you are able to keep a track of customer and sales lead information from one place. This can certainly help to increase productivity and allow you to focus more on converting leads into sales.

  • Must Allow you to Accept Online Payments

Consider this: Your customer finds your sales quotation well within his budget and accepts it. Certainly you don’t want to keep your customer waiting to pay. So if the customer finds your sales quote feasible and want to pay as fast as possible, you definitely don’t want to lose this opportunity. Online payment system integrated with quoting and proposal software will enable your customer to pay right away. So make sure that the quoting software has an online payment processing system, which will simplify the customers’ payment method. So there should be a link in the quote itself that will allow the customer to place order easily.

  • Should Support Different Currencies

It is a known fact that all sales quoting software tools available in the United States allow its users to do business in US and Canadian dollars. However, if you want to expand your business in other locations, say European countries, it can be difficult since in these countries, business transactions are not executed in dollars. Such a scenario puts limitations on making business transactions in a foreign currency. In an ideal situation, the best quoting software should support international payments. So consider a sales quoting tool that supports multiple currencies so that you can execute transactions in different currencies. It should allow you to track sales in different currencies. If this is not possible, at least ensure it supports the currency in which you do your business.

  • Should Support your Pricing Recommendations

Business organizations often use different strategies such as cost-based pricing, volume-based pricing, and value-based pricing for pricing their products and services. So the quoting software should support different methods of pricing so that business can be done in different ways as per your strategy and requirement.

Sources: http://www.varstreetinc.com/blog/index.php/lets-shoot-best-quoting-software/

Automated or Manual Data Entry- Which side are you on?

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Automated or manual data entry? Which one you prefer? Well, if you think that you are perfect and your performance will be optimal, despite the repetitive nature of work, you could go the manual route. The fact is since human error is ubiquitous and inevitable, it makes sense to automate data entry processes. This is one of the pre-requisites to drive IT business and brand growth. The following blog discusses the various aspects of automated and manual data entry systems.

  • Time and Productivity

There is little doubt that collecting data from different sources and then entering it manually is a time consuming process. A way to resolve this issue is by automating this process. Also, the repetitive nature of work is bound to make your staff less productive. This is obvious since your staff will eventually get burdened after entering data for hundreds of time. Less productivity from your staff is something that you simply cannot afford in today’s competitive environment. So in order to bring efficiency and improve productivity in their work, automating the process is the need of the hour.

If you have an ecommerce store that is integrated with your accounting software such as Quickbooks, it will certainly make things easier as information will automatically flow between the two systems and synchronize all business operations. Quickbooks integration with your ecommerce website is the key to optimize various processes in your business.

Ecommerce integration with your existing back end systems will automate the flow of information between systems and ensure that you provide better service to your customers.

  •  Data Accuracy

Typographical errors are a given when you prefer manual entry of data. People are often offered minimum salary for data entry job. Initially this may appear cost effective for you but the cost of rectifying errors associated with manual entry soon becomes increasingly expensive. So it is not just accuracy issues but even the cost associated with manual data entry is a cause for concern.

The fact remains that error rate is high in manual data entry system. Even in VAR-related business, manually creating sales is prone to errors. In general, an easy way to significantly reduce errors would be to use automated data entry. With automation, work is done correctly that too by hiring just a few people. As far as generating sales quotes are concerned, you can always rely on automated sales quoting tools that can allow you to create a sales quote within minutes.

  • Real time Access

Lack of real-time access capabilities is one of the biggest advantages of using manual systems.  Automated software behaves like real-time operating systems that provide information in real time. In automated data processing, hardly any time delays are introduced, which means any information updated can be accessed immediately. The requirement for a real-time system such as Autotask – a cloud-based platform is the need of the hour. Autotask integrationwith your existing CRM or ERP system can work wonders to organize, automate, and synchronize all your business requirements. This in turn can help you to grow your IT business.

  • Automatic Alerts

Keeping track of efficiency and effectiveness is no easy job in manual data entry methods. A few months into manual processing and it would be very difficult to evaluate work efficiencies. However, with automation software, you can get notifications in case of any system failures. These automatic alerts will help you to respond quickly and improve efficiency.

  • Amount of Work

Initially, you might not face any difficulty in entering the data manually, probably because the records to be added are limited due to a small project. However for large projects or as your work increases, you are likely to have a large data file, making manual data entry process cumbersome and time consuming. In such circumstances, you need to use software that automates the data entry process.

On the whole, inconsistency and duplication of data entry, time consuming nature of work, and room for errors are some of the major disadvantages of following manual data entry methods. However, by instituting automation, your office staff will work more efficiently and effectively, thereby helping to optimize your IT business.