Selling Services Blog

How Tech Data Mastered Service Revenue Management

How did Tech Data, one of the world’s largest distributors of IT products and services, drive triple-digit growth in service renewal sales last year? It started by taking a closer look at its data, says Dana Farfante Reina, the company’s Cisco Services Marketing Manager. Massive sales gains were only the beginning for Dana and her team as they put a powerful new initiative in place to help Tech Data’s reseller partners grow service revenue and profits while building stronger relationships with their customers.

recorded webinar download email cta How Tech Data Mastered Service Revenue Management

Download the full conversation from our recent webinar; How to Build a Best-in-Class Recurring Service Revenue Practice

Earlier this week, Dana took time out of her busy schedule to describe the secret to the distribution giant’s service revenue management success in a webinar titled “How to Build a Best-in-Class Recurring Service Revenue Practice.” (If you missed the live event, don’t worry; a complimentary recording is available here.) And if you want the CliffsNotes edition, we’ve pulled together the highlights below in an easy-to-read question and answer format:

Q1. What did you mean when you said your sales success started with data?
DFR: To alleviate the data issues that we faced across our North American service renewal program, we worked closely with MaintenanceNet to evaluate and cleanse relevant data from a variety of existing sources, such as our ERP system, CRM platform, and our quoting and ordering system. A focus on quality data ensured that the service renewal quotes we produced under our new initiative were not only accurate, but also effectively shared with the right channel partners at the right time in the product or service lifecycle to maximize business results.

Q2. The sheer volume of low-dollar service quotes that resellers have to contend with in the IT channel presents sales obstacles for many organizations. How did you overcome that challenge?
DFR: MaintenanceNet’s AutoQuoteTM solution sets the stage for us to scale at an incredible rate because we’re able to automate quote creation and send out branded, automated emails with built-in quotes that allow purchase to be made in an instant with just a few simple clicks. A “buy now” button prompts the partner to purchase a renewal without picking up the phone. Using automation, we transformed tedious, manual processes and we were able to generate thousands of service quotes each month for our partners in record time.

Q3. How are you able to capture the low-dollar service renewal sale with AutoQuote?
DFR: We honestly did not have a “process” around opportunities under $25K in value until MaintenanceNet began to provide AutoQuotes. Prior to that, we would just email quotes out to customers, but the SMARTattach Opportunity Portal now allows us to offer service quotes to customers proactively and in a much more “actionable” format. Resellers can also access their information via our website: they can view an inventory of contracts, review AutoQuotes, email their end users and manage their service renewal pipeline — all on the portal. With added efficiency and automation, this process should only get easier.

Q4. What are some of the other ways that you were able to achieve the results you did?
DFR: The SMARTattach Opportunity portal, which is a service revenue management platform, gives our resellers visibility into their service contract purchases and aligns relevant data with the products and customers that they support. In addition, the Opportunity portal enables our partners to use customer-specific pricing and branding – and send service quotes directly to their customers, and it also provides self-help tools and allows resellers to create quotes on demand.

Q5. How do you measure and monitor sales progress?
DFR: With the Opportunity portal, we can monitor our ongoing AutoQuote campaign performance and gain insight into other service sales opportunities that our reseller partners can go after.

Q6. What are the most important benefits to your resellers, other than the revenue gains?
DFR: Our partners have also benefited from on-time service quoting and renewals, reduced quote creation time, and the elimination of sales administration tasks and manual quote processes – which has improved the overall operational efficiencies across our partner sales organizations. We can now enable our resellers to deliver quotes quickly, while building and preserving customer relationships. With the SMARTattach Portal – resellers can also gain insight into new service sales opportunities by identifying products sold without services, and then take immediate action by generating a quote.

Q7. What kind of time savings have you achieved by switching from a manually-driven program to one powered by extreme automation?
DFR: With over 7,000 quotes delivered per month, we’re estimating that Tech Data has saved itself over 500 hours through automation and has saved its partners over 1,500 hours. That’s a huge time savings.

Many thanks to Dana for sharing her time and expertise in the webinar. Want to hear more of her best-practice ideas? View the webinar recording now.

Posted in Automation, Campaign Management, Channel Enablement, Channel Sales, Sales Automation, Selling, Service Contract Management, Service Revenue, Service Sales | Leave a comment |

3 Strategies for Combating Slumping Hardware Sales

60 percent of companies blog post 3 Strategies for Combating Slumping Hardware Sales
According to a recent article in ZDNet, it’s tough out there. Worldwide server sales slid 4.5 percent in 2013 and PC sales also saw losses. But the topic of slumping hardware sales – at least when it comes to traditional IT devices including laptops and PCs – isn’t a new one for manufacturers and their IT channel partners. It’s a market shift that’s been in motion for quite some time – some may say a decade or longer – and it’s one big reason the IT supply chain has moved to more of a software and services mentality.

The impact of server virtualization and cloud has also caused some major momentum shifts. Those manufacturers that are adapting to the shifts are finding new revenue sources in areas such as service renewals, which can prove to be a game-changer when it comes to making up for lost hardware sales.

If your revenues aren’t where they should be as we reach the midway point in 2014, check out these three simple strategies for overcoming the challenges of today’s changing market:

1) Get Your Priorities Straight: Service renewals represent a recurring revenue stream that emerges out of your existing customer base. For some manufacturers, this stream has driven as much as $1.5 billion in new sales opportunities in a single year. And while research shows that 80% of future profits comes from just 20% of an organization’s existing customers, most companies still fail to focus on their installed base and the power of service renewals. But when traditional sales strategies slow down, why leave money on the table? To turn 2014 into the sales year you want it to be, start by placing a higher priority on service renewals.

2) Dive Into Your Data: IDC has said that 80% of customer data is wasted. The truth is, poor data quality causes revenue leakage, organizational inefficiency and loss of salesforce productivity. Conversely, data quality management forms the backbone of today’s most successful service renewal and annuity practices. But with services data typically dispersed across five or more separate databases in an organization – often operating as information silos – the task of creating effective renewal sales out of installed base data is out of the question for many businesses. If that’s the case for you, consider outsourcing your data project to outside experts who can help you build a data core to fuel your service renewal practice. It’s an investment that will pay off if done right, and the proof is in the many manufacturers and distributors who have already leveraged big data strategies to earn big returns.

3) Sell Smarter: Once you’ve got clean and organized installed base data, you can uncover not only service expiration dates to power your renewal sales, but you can also identify buying trends and up-sell and cross-sell opportunities with your customers. What trends should you look out for? Trends that will help you zero in on identifying the right offer for the right customer at the right time. These opportunities can include:
• Subscription Renewals
• Unattached Assets
• Accessory and Consumable Sales
• Product Refresh Sales
• Rebate and Incentive Programs

Add predictive and even prescriptive analytics into the mix and you’ll be in the big leagues, following in the footsteps of today’s leading manufacturers and the best practices they use to get in front of customers with offers that are almost too good to refuse.

If you’re skeptical, find out what a leading global technology distributor has to say. On July 8, we’re hosting a live webinar titled, “How to Build a Recurring, Best-in-Class Service Revenue Practice.” Registration is now open and there is no fee to participate. Spots are filling up fast so sign up soon. The key is to get your sales where they need to be this year before it’s too late. Seize the service revenue opportunity and overcome the challenges of today’s shifting market.

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Data Quality Management: Every Renewal Sales Manager’s Top Priority

Is Your Customer Data Dirty? Don’t Worry, You’re Not Alone.

In fact, according to Gartner, “40% of all business initiatives fail to achieve target goals because of poor data quality” and IDC reports “80% of customer data is wasted.”

Poor data quality leads to revenue leakage, inefficiency and loss of sales force productivity. Clean, actionable data is imperative for creating valuable business intelligence that will enable your sales team to identify and win recurring service revenue opportunities that would typically fall through the cracks. Building your core of actionable data requires a focused data quality management plan and buy-in from different groups within your organization.

data quality management Data Quality Management: Every Renewal Sales Managers Top Priority
If your organization is already doing a good job of enriching customer data, you’re in better shape than most. If not, your first order of business should be to get your IT experts, data analysts and sales team on board to define a data quality management strategy and start addressing two common data issues we’ll cover now.

Inaccessible Data from Disparate Sources

It’s not uncommon for a company’s product, customer and attached services data to be contained across five or more separate databases – all of which have limited or zero ability to communicate with each other. Yet, when aggregated, this data can provide you with a 360-view into the service renewal opportunities that exist across your installed base. The data that you need is contained in CRM, order processing and entitlement systems, product and service catalogs, and other platforms, and it includes transactional data along with customer contact information, service expiration dates and more.

The time and resources needed to manually aggregate and cleanse this tremendous volume of data can be daunting and can put a halt to good intentions before the initiative even starts. But it needs to get done if you want your data records to not only be complete, but also fully actionable and capable of helping you execute on the maximum number of service renewal opportunities.

Because service revenue businesses have traditionally fallen under the scope of sales, IT has had little involvement in its operational processes. As a result, sales has been left with the bulk of the data quality management work. The challenge is that sales people want to sell and sales managers don’t want to distract their sales force with data scrubbing or research tasks. Leaving those responsibilities to data experts – whether internal or external – is key, and the organizations that have figured out how to take the data burden off of sales and place it on data experts are crushing their sales quotas today.

Missing, Late and Poor Quality Data

If you were given the name of a customer and you weren’t able to quickly find what products they bought, when they bought them, what services were attached and when those services expire, then you’re likely leaving money on the table and you’re not giving the customer the support they deserve. Your goal should be to create a single and complete system of record – not only for the purpose of pursuing upsell, cross-sell and other follow-on sales activities across your installed base, but also for the purpose of building stronger ties with your customers throughout the product and service lifecycle. By organizing your data, you’ll be able to uncover gaps and discover what’s missing and what’s needed to make it actionable.


How to Correct Poor Data Quality


Become a Data Evangelist

Making data actionable begins with your sales team when they engage with your customers. Of course, sales account executives just want to hit their numbers, so help them understand that they have a personal and financial interest in pitching in and helping with data quality management. Use every opportunity to evangelize your new holistic approach to data mining, aggregation, cleansing and enrichment — and bring discipline and rigor to how data is handled.

As information gatekeeper, think ahead and take steps to apply code and basic business rules to your data entry forms — those that exist on your web page or within your ERP, CRM or other customer-focused systems. Make it a requirement for any entry to encompass the customer’s complete record including their full name, email address, phone number and area code, and any other information that will make future communication and outreach with them more successful. It just makes good business sense.

Focus on the Data You Need

The most commonly retained data include the usual essential sales, customer contact, product purchase history and transaction information, but make sure you also hang on to more granular details such as contract expiration dates, product serial numbers and even the last date and mode of communication a customer had with your company. All of this data offers a wealth of information on how you can better serve customer needs into the future, and build your recurring revenue business.

Focus on Quality

One of the most important steps for turning data into valuable business intelligence is to ensure that the data is accurate. Your data team must review and enrich the consolidated data pool to ensure it is historically accurate and all-inclusive. By cleaning the data, or establishing procedures for self-cleaning, you can drive better overall sales and marketing opportunities.

For example, for projects such as email marketing, it’s no secret that higher open rates can be achieved when quality data is used. And as open rates improve, the ability to better target customers increases, and the cost of sale decreases. In this way, data accuracy and analytics can lead to a more effective way to achieve your sales goals — with fewer resources and less effort for sales teams.

The bottom line is that the best service renewal approaches leverage a variety of data to put sales agents in position to engage more successfully and intelligently with their installed base. Pulling together a comprehensive data quality management plan is the first step to building a best-in-class recurring service revenue practice.


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Why We’re Excited About The 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Summit

ML Summit 2013 sessions DSC0031 XL 300x199 Why Were Excited About The 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Summit
The 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Summit is taking place June 3-5 in Palm Beach, Florida. Having taken a peek at the event agenda, it looks like there is a lot of great content centered around the future of manufacturing and how technology and Big Data will play a central role in shaping the industry in everything from design to supply chain management. We’re especially excited to see a couple sessions that will touch on something we’ve been talking about recently – the Internet of Things and it’s impact on the manufacturing business.

In a previous post, we had predicted that five years from now, as a deluge of new kinds of connected devices come into service, trying to keep pace with maintaining the services associated with those devices will become more challenging than ever, demanding new levels of automation from manufacturers. We like to call it “extreme automation” and believe it should be at the top of the list for driving any service annuity business today.

In fact, extreme automation is already making deep inroads into the manufacturing sector — changing the way service contract management gets done. It’s being used to radically reduce the time and cost of sale, helping to eliminate tedious manual processes associated with service renewals to allow manufacturers to generate revenue faster, easier and smarter.

Case in point – a long-time MaintenanceNet customer who is being honored this week at the 10th annual Manufacturing Leadership Summit for taking an innovative approach to automating high-volume, low-dollar service renewals. According to Frost & Sullivan, the manufacturers recognized at the Summit, including our customer, “have created smart, connected products that, supported by new service processes, create new, more intimate relationships with customers.”

Indeed, our award-winning client is leveraging extreme automation to not only reach new milestones in terms of service renewals, but to also reach new heights with customer and channel partner satisfaction. With quality customer data as the engine behind its global service annuity initiative, this networking technology manufacturer got a handle on the thousands of low-dollar service contracts coming up for renewal each month across its installed base, working in lock step with its Tier 1 and Tier 2 channel partners to achieve an increase of more than 200 percent in service renewals in 2013.

Using MaintenanceNet’s service revenue management solution, the manufacturer also drastically reduced quote creation time, automating up to 20,000 quotes per month to save 1,500-plus administrative hours for distribution partners and 3,000 or more hours for reseller partners each month. You can learn more here.

You can follow the proceedings of the Manufacturing Leadership Summit, June 3-5, on Twitter at #2014MLS. Keynote speakers include Marco Annunziata, Director of Global Market Insights, General Electric; Cathy Clegg, Global Manufacturing Engineering, General Motors; and Stephen Hoover, CEO, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).


blog cta MFR Guide Why Were Excited About The 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Summit

Posted in Automation, Big Data, Channel Enablement, Channel Sales, Data Management, Sales Automation, Selling, Service Contract Management, Service Revenue, Service Sales | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment |