Can your Business Survive Without a Proposal Software?

Propsal Software

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.

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The Amazing E-commerce Trends for your online shopping store

E-commerce Trends 2015 (1)

Ecommerce business is influenced by the emerging trends in the ecommerce world. Trends that shake the ecommerce industry to its core and affect ecommerce owners and customers alike. Trends that can leave your ecommerce website outdated. So, capitalizing on these trends is the key to make your ecommerce business more profitable. Do you know some of the emerging trends coming up in 2015?  Well, you cannot afford to ignore them if success is your prime objective. Following are the stunning trends that will be witnessed in 2015 in the ecommerce sector.

Mobile Devices are a Major Contributor in Online Shopping

Emerging trends show that the mobile devices are also playing a dominant role in online sale growth. 2014 analysis of ecommerce traffic shows that mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets account for over 33% of online sales. In simple words, 1/3 rd of online purchases were taking from mobile devices in 2014.

Data also shows that over half of the ecommerce traffic is coming from mobile devices. This clearly indicates that retailers who want to increase their ecommerce traffic must make their e-commerce platform mobile friendly. Since more and more people are giving ecommerce orders via mobile devices, it is evident that in the near future mobile devices will outpace desktop in generating online purchases.

Social Media Helpful in Product Discovery

Social media is often used by ecommerce websites to promote their products. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have shown to be helpful in driving online sales. However this sharing of information on social platform has led to emergence of new trend commonly referred to as discovery-based shopping.

Advertising of ecommerce on social media has led to discovery-based shopping, which means customers visit an ecommerce site, without having any knowledge about what they are going to get. This new type of shopping inspires the discovery of new products and if it suits the customers’ budget, it is purchased.

Social media and mobile devices are playing an important role in making customers opt for discovery-based purchases. This new type of shopping is rising as found out through 2014 statistics that show that ecommerce orders coming from social media increased by around 200%.

 No Restricted Time for Shopping

Gone are the days when shopping required customers to walk into a physical store and the sales rep would then show products at a particular time slot during the day. In today’s age of online shopping store, customers can do shopping from anywhere and at anytime. However, statistics do indicate that the time period between 12 to 2 pm on weekdays is the peak time for online shopping.

Nevertheless, today’s online customers want an easy, fast, and flexible buying experience whenever they visit an online store. This should be kept in mind when designing all aspects of your e-commerce software solution. Ensuring a responsive website is critical for the success of any e-commerce business. A responsive website is one that is readable and can be easily viewed, irrespective of the size of the display device.

Considering these emerging trends that are going to revolutionize the next phase of ecommerce, you need to design your business strategy accordingly in order to boost your online sales.

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.

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Quoting Software

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Choosing right quoting software can be a difficult task. Business needs expand after certain time interval and that too limitlessly. Quoting software might need an upgrade in such times. However, if the matrix of choosing the quoting software has errors, business issues rise and are difficult to handle.

In spite of availability of good quoting software, resellers face some issues in selection of a right one. Hence, to make a better choice here are some of the determinants that help in selection of a right quoting software.

1. Choose the Right Flavor For Your Business Or Industry: Spreadsheets, the most preferred forms for sending a sales quotation to customers! But, many resellers working on spreadsheet feel it time consuming. So, alternatively, an automated quoting solution could be of good help as it generates sales quotation automatically, only by using customer details. And that too without much efforts.

Having right quoting software is important; but what’s crucial is, to have the right flavor in it!

2. Choose Web-Based Software for Convenience: Convenience matters when it comes to business. A web based quote software is of utmost help as it can be created and sent from anywhere in the world. Though, availability of many quoting software, resellers prefer web based quote for their global customers. Reduced maintenance is one of the benefits of using a web-based solution.

 

3. A Solution That Integrates with Your CRM, PSA, Accounting Software or Other Marketing Apps: Being a reseller, you do not have to worry for the testimony of your transactions. You do not have to maintain a separate track for your transactions. Transactions can be anything, such as adding a new customer, providing them new service, etc., by integrating CRM, PSA and accounting software and other services with quoting solution you just streamline the productivity of your business. Your quoting software efficiently updates every entry in it, simultaneously, as you close a sale with your customer. Later, a follow-up can be done using the customer profile based on history of inquiries.

4. Flexibility of Software to Support Your Pricing Requirements: Your sales needs are nourished properly when your quoting solution serves pricing requirements. The configuration of a sales quote can range between complex and straightforward. This can be understood with a small scenario below.

Most of the quoting software package supports U.S dollars, and there’s a customer sitting on the other end of the world dealing in other currency. So, being a reseller, what options you can offer here to this customer on international level? Or, will you let go this customer? Absolutely not!

This is where your quoting solution must be competent to meet such cases. Precisely, your quoting software must work on international scales too.

 

Secondly, integrating online payment option with quoting software system adds to customer experience. After all, it is a highly value addition.

5. Ascertain Vendor’s Services and Support: You may need vendor’s support time to time despite of the low maintenance for the quoting software. Make sure that you get vendor’s technical support for configuration, updates and security after your satisfaction with the product. One best thing is, to read the latest reviews about the product as well as vendor services to ensure accurate feedback.

 

Always remember that the financial and time investment you do for sales quoting software must pay you back. Therefore, it is good to jot down all the required features you need and then combine them to match your exact expectations and also to look at the bigger picture.