Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

h1

Canalys Channels Forum Review

October 17, 2018

The largest independent Channel Event in EMEA

channelcentral was an emerging vendor sponsor for the Canalys EMEA Channels Forum this year, and we had a terrific response at this year’s fantastic event in Barcelona. Greg Starks (CSO) and Dan Mason (CTO) represented channelcentral on the 9-11th of October, with Tim Moyle (CEO) also managing to attend part of the event! It was a very busy few days and a perfect opportunity to meet multiple customers and prospects in a very well organised, structured and desirable setting: the stunning Hotel Arts near the beach (see image).

If you are unfamiliar with Canalys events:

The Canalys Channels Forums are major independent events for IT channel partners across EMEA, APAC and LATAM. The events bring together major technology vendors, distributors and resellers to discuss industry trends, forge new business relationships and create sales opportunities. Our emphasis on high-quality content, top-level speakers and innovative ideas and platforms has enabled us to grow and become the world’s largest independent IT channel events.

At Canalys we can meet new, old and existing customers. This is a wonderful opportunity to expose our brand and services to Manufacturers & Channel Partners in attendance. For new customers we meet at Canalys, we can explain how our services work and how we can possibly benefit their company. It builds a strong foundation for a relationship between two businesses.

I really enjoyed meeting customers, new and old. It’s a great opportunity to get feedback on what we’re getting right and what we need to improve on. Also probing for opportunities to deliver new complementary services.
Tim Moyle, CEO, channelcentral.net Limited

In addition to some great meetings with vendors, we were able to demonstrate our boost! data service to several resellers. This allows resellers who have customer-facing web stores to dramatically improve the user experience for customers purchasing servers, storage and networking. Resellers consume the boost! service data, then use our “Attach Patterns” to create a very easy-to-use interface for attaching common/popular options to the base system, integrated seamlessly into their web store. boost! supports HPE Servers, Storage and Networking, and Dell “Stock and Sell” servers, with more brands coming soon.
Greg Starks, Chief Strategy Officer, channelcentral.net Limited

Thanks again to everyone involved in Canalys, and we hope to see you next year.

h1

Building a Case for CPQ

October 11, 2018


If you are a stakeholder for a CPQ System, at some point you will have to justify the investment. Don’t wait until you are asked, build your case in advance. You’re looking for a CPQ System to solve a problem that exists. Try to be specific and avoid business cases that can be easily challenged: “we need to improve our ease of business” or “all of the people that have the knowledge are retiring”. Almost certainly true but hard to hang a number on.

A good CPQ Vendor will guide customers into areas where there are financial benefits to be had. At channelcentral the main value we see is attach selling, which we improve by use of “guided selling” motions. A secondary value is reducing the workload of skilled knowledge workers. If were looking to build a case, on behalf of a customer, we might look at:

Attach Rate Improvements

Choose what could be described as run-rate business. Assume a quote win rate. Look at how a CPQ System could improve the Pitch Rate (#times something is quoted with a parent product) and make a range of assumptions. Apply margins. If the gain is more than the outlay: there’s ROI. Your company may insist on a minimum level of ROI to invest in a project: find out what that is.

Example:
System Quote Value per Month: $1M
Attach Value %age per Month: 50% so Total Quote Value $1.5M
Success Rate: 33% = $500k Sales
Increase the %age by 10%: Total Quote Value now $1.6M ($33k incremental business)
Net Margin on $33k say 40% = $13.2k
Cost of CPQ: $2k per Month.
ROI: $11.2k.

The Net Margin figure should be higher than normal as the variable costs associated with attaching to an existing order are low.

Skilled Knowledge Worker Improvements

Through audit it’s possible to calculate an average ‘cost per quote’ for a business. Sales time plus technical resources, re-quote count etc. Estimate the minimum quotation value that makes sense to your business and anything that doesn’t meet that level needs to be either a Customer or Sales quotation. Then re-calculate the cost per quote versus $margin.

An interesting side-effect is that our experience has showed the deal pipeline that the Skilled Knowledge Worker manages often goes UP not DOWN. This is because their availability is better to manage large deals. Instead of spinning in the Hamster Wheel of low value, low margin deals.

If you are wondering why we do this ‘with a customer’ rather than ‘for a customer’ the answer is simple: you need access to figures that most Companies wouldn’t share: raw margin and employee costs. We could make assumptions but they wouldn’t be accurate.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask customers to self-quote. Many of them will gladly do this (if it’s easy, available and comprehensive) and if your system uses Single Sign On you can identify them and follow up. Some won’t do it which is OK: use Sales.

Building an ROI case doesn’t need to feel like hard work.

h1

Avoiding ‘Tax on Use’ in CPQ Billing

October 9, 2018


Lots of channelcentral’s competitors use a Software Licensing billing methodology: cost per seat usually. Some bill based on utilization: the more you use the tool, the more you pay. It’s proportionate. It’s fair. It’s also madness; here’s why:

• Customers don’t like variable costs, at all.
• If you, or your customer, is trying to promote the use of CPQ tools versus manual ways to provide quotations to customers then why tax on use?
• Does adding a customer, or processing a quote, cost a CPQ Company anything?
• Win/Win billing systems (e.g. taking a commission from orders) quickly turn into Lose/Win or Win/Lose.

From the outset channelcentral set out to avoid ‘Tax on Use’. An annual subscription covers the cost of the service and includes the license, hosting, support and IT integration services. It includes unlimited utilization by Employees and Customers. Those subscribers know exactly what they were going to pay for the contracted term. Customers like predictable costs.

The more the customer uses the CPQ Application the lower the cost per quote or transaction. If channelcentral improves the functionality of the CPQ Application, resulting in better results or greater utilization – the subscriber is getting ‘More for the Same’.

On a similar thread some of our competitors have different costs for different feature sets. This is a stealth tax – demanding higher costs for features that already exist and don’t really cost more to add. Having a fully inclusive service for a customer adds to the subscription feel and generates greater goodwill and loyalty.

channelcentral’s experience is that its subscription model promotes higher utilization and delivers better results, with less complexity than models that tax on use.

h1

Auto-Add: Friend or Foe

October 4, 2018

A common technique in Configure Price Quote systems is to automatically add something to the Shopping Cart once a ‘parent system’ is loaded by the user. Unless the Manufacturer mandates the addition it can easily be removed or displaced. Question is: if the software, hardware or service is not mandatory why add it in the first place? Common answers:

1. It’s recommended by the Manufacturer or Channel Partner.
2. You’re probably going to add it anyway.
3. People are forgetful.

The real answer though is: it delivers significant improvement in ‘pitch rate’ and this ultimately leads to an improvement in ‘attach rate’. Pitch being what is quoted, Attach being what is sold. channelcentral has seen up to 100% increases in pitch rates with Auto Add. Yes it’s a blunt instrument but hey.

Friend or foe? It’s about making the recommendations relevant and appropriate. If you are trying to attach a $2,000 service to a $500 System Unit it will most likely end in ‘serial deselection’ by users and a few complaints to boot. If you are adding several items to the Shopping Cart the user will be confused and abandon.

Get it right and you’ll see numbers improve, get it wrong and utilization could suffer. Better still analyse deselections and what products are commonly used to displace the auto-add. Continuous improvement. Make it easy to remove but make it as easy to add an alternative product (use Top Recommended Options or Product Sub-Filters to help the user).

Auto-add: friend if done right, foe if not.

h1

Annual Company Meeting #11

October 2, 2018

 

31st July 2018 saw channelcentral complete its 11th year of trading. Once the dust had settled on the Annual Accounts, we held a Company Meeting in our Tewkesbury Office for all staff. Aside from discussing the financial results and outlook it was an opportunity to welcome new starters, hand out some awards and review what our staff think of channelcentral via our annual Company Survey:

• In part due to “re-on-shoring” some of our Development function, our net headcount increase over the last 6 months is 8 heads. channelcentral has 33 Employees (including sub-contractors). 5 years ago that number was 10. Now we have 10 Developers!

• 5 of our 33 Employees either have been, or still are, Apprentices. Another 2 either have been, or are, Undergraduate Placements.

• Via our Company Survey we improved in almost all areas. 100% felt satisfied or very satisfied in their jobs.

We handed out awards to:

  • 5 employees who have reached 3 Years of Service.
  • 2 employees who have reached 5 Years of Service.
  • 1 employee who has reached 10 Years of Service, and has therefore earned a sabbatical.

This year’s award was themed “Snapchat Selfies”.

‘We would like to thank all of our customers, and key suppliers without whom we would not have succeeded thus far.’Tim Moyle CEO

h1

channelcentral Sponsors Canalys Channels Event, Barcelona 2018

September 26, 2018

We look forward to seeing you all there on the 9th-11th October 2018!

channelcentral is a proud sponsor of Canalys for the first time. Having experienced the event as a delegate, seeing what a magnet it is for Vendors and Channel Partners, we decided to open up the Marketing Budget. Our logo is displayed amongst ten or so vendors under the Emerging vendor category (see other Emerging Vendors below).

Two of our top Executives are attending:

Dan Mason, CTO and Founder of channelcentral.net.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/channelcentral

Greg Starks, CSO (Strategy) of channelcentral.net.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregstarks/

Both are available for 121 meetings via the Canalys Meeting App or more informally on a stand we’ve booked. So please tell us what you need to improve your customer experience.

It’s the perfect opportunity for our European customers to spend some face to face time with channelcentral.

Click here for more information about the event.

 

h1

HPE Delegates given a boost in Vegas!

June 26, 2018

Representatives from the Global IT Channel gathered in Las Vegas last week for the HPE Discover and Global Partner Summit events. As always it was an incredibly busy week as the industry’s elite networked and strategized!

channelcentral, a regular sponsor of the event and developers of the iQuote Configure, Price, Quote Software used by Distribution Worldwide, had something new to show this year. As delegates made their way through the transformation zone they were presented with an absolute game-changing service for their industry. The service is called boost! and attendees of this year’s event were fortunate to be amongst the very first to have a preview.

boost! is a Data Service that drives attach sales and shapes customer demand to improve your customers’ eCommerce experience. Imagine a typical webstore where you’re offered an additional product that has nothing to do with what you’re ordering, or even if it does, how do you know it is compatible? Then imagine a webstore with boost! offered as a Web Service and a pre-selected set of compatible options that are known to work together with the pre-installed features of the base product, across multiple categories. Enabling faster, high-confidence decision-making for technical products.

It’s more exciting than it perhaps sounds. boost! is fixing a known weakness in eCommerce that organizations have been unable to resolve. Using artificial intelligence, boost! will transform the way your customers’ can buy technical products from you, freeing up your pre-sales team to hunt down those big deals!

The feedback from delegates at HPE Discover and Global Partner Summit was unbelievable. Every delegate that was fortunate enough to have a demonstration wanted it in their webstore. Rack Simply, are a Partner based in the US, and are the first in the World to have boost! live in their webstore. Here’s what they had to say:

“boost! drastically improved the customer experience for Rack Simply. Before boost!, users were lost in endless accessory options that converted poorly. boost! and the team at channelcentral only recommend the most popular and likely attach options that transitioned Rack Simply from a website, to a seamless configure-price-quote experience.” Dan Mitchell, President, Rack Simply

channelcentral has spotted a gap in the online buying process of technical products: “It is essential that online stores do everything possible to keep customers captive on their own site during the complete buying process. Sites that use boost! can eliminate a common problem associated with selling more complex IT products; the temptation to click away to check compatibility and capacity. Instead, customers can select from options with confidence and visualize slot and bay usage.”
Greg Starks, CSO, channelcentral.net

After feedback at the events last week, channelcentral is excited to get to work on transforming the eCommerce sites of everyone it spoke to. For those that missed out and are wanting to learn more about what boost! can do for your eCommerce sales, please get in touch.