Archive for the ‘Product Management’ Category

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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SEVEN Dysfunctional User Experiences Buying Services Online

September 25, 2018

If you’re selling services as an attach to IT products, you need to make it as easy as possible. Users will have searched, researched and selected a product, but without a service the user may be reliant on basic warranty that rarely matches the need or product lifecycle.

So when you’re purchasing that product it’s absolutely essential that attaching a service, potentially from a large list of services, is obvious, easy, intuitive, appropriate. It’s a shame that’s rarely the case and here are the main eCommerce blunders that users often experience:

1. Duo: a site is so poorly structured or has terrible data management that you have to buy the product, then circle back to find a service (often from a different web site), buy it as a separate journey, often to the same basket. And if you get it wrong…

2. Mashup: when looking for a service you have to trawl through all of the hardware accessories and software add-ons to find services.

3. Bookworm: there are so many services offered that you are reading dozens of part descriptions trying to decode them and select the best one for your budget.

4. TLA: product descriptions that use so many proprietary acronyms that part of your buying experience is Googling acronyms.

5. Shapeless: random parts in random order with no element of what the Manufacturer or Retailer would recommend.

6. Tumbleweed: literally nothing compatible is shown at all.

7. Cat Food: sites that use “Big Data” often offer items as complementary that are totally irrelevant. Cat food with your Laptop?

CPQ Applications or CPQ Data Services can fix this. Compatibility, recommendations, plain English filters, acronym ‘expanders’, consistent descriptions even through to Device as a Service plans. No more Cat Food.

Attaching services to products is a huge market opportunity for Manufacturers and Channel Partners. Very simple actions can drive major advances in user experience and ultimately Sales.

Click here for channelcentral CPQ Services

Click here for channelcentral boost! Data Services

 

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Notifications goes live in iQuote

August 2, 2018

How long does it take you to notice something new in iQuote?

It is a big tool with a lot of features, and some users will go through the same process to quote each time. It therefore, might not always be obvious when a new feature has gone live or a new document has been added to the resources section.

We have built a solution! A Notification system has been introduced to make all Users aware of when we have got something new to talk about. A green bell icon can be seen in the top right-hand corner of your screen. When there is a new notification to read, a number of unread alerts will be shown. Clicking on this will open up the Notifications panel for Users to be able to read and/or dismiss alerts:

iQuote Notifications

If alerts are not dismissed they will remain in the panel for future reference. By clicking on a notification, it will display a pop-up, possibly with further information.

We are looking forward to utilising this feature and keeping Users informed. If you have any queries or feedback about Notifications, then please do let us know using the Support link within the iQuote tool.

iQuote is developed for Hewlett Packard Enterprise by http://www.channelcentral.net