Selling Services Blog

6 Service Sales Rookie Mistakes

Whether you’re new to service sales or not, poor planning and lack of insight might be slowing down your sales processes and keeping your organization from reaching its full revenue potential. If you want to hit your sales numbers – this month, this quarter or this year — avoid these six rookie mistakes.
iStock 000000706593Small 200x300 6 Service Sales Rookie Mistakes

1. Only Going After The Big Fish
It’s tempting to go after high-dollar service contracts, neglecting lower-value contracts because they’re too time consuming and tedious to track and manage. But veteran sales leaders know that these smaller contracts add up in value. They might be massive in volume, but low-dollar contracts can also lead to massive revenue gains when you take the right approach. Automating the sales process associated with renewing these contracts is your first order of business and there are solutions out there that will not only eliminate all the time and headaches involved, but also generate results nearly overnight.

2. Getting Stuck on Spreadsheets
All too often rookies get stuck in the spreadsheet maze of yesterday, which means they are bound to waste valuable time and miss important opportunities. Spreadsheets can only go so far in covering the scope of actionable items in service sales, and the data they contain is typically stagnant. New service sales technology allows for dynamic dashboards, integration across multiple data sources, sleek mobile apps, extreme automation and increased functionality that drives sales growth and profits for your organization, not to mention time savings. Case in point, read our recent post about Tech Data: with over 7,000 low-dollar service quotes delivered per month, the distribution giant saved itself more than 500 hours of sales time through automation, and has saved its partners over 1,500 hours. That’s huge!

3. Poor Data Practices
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 might 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. And remember, 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.

4. Waiting Too Long
Timing is everything in sales, especially when it comes to service renewals. Here’s where the benefits of quality data, automated email campaigns and streamlined processes all come together. The key is to reach out to the right person with the right offer — at the right time. You’ll want to send a new service quote out to your customer 30-60 days in advance of a contract’s expiration. If you’re too early or too late, you risk losing the sale. With today’s new breed of automated systems, you’ll be sure to time it right, and that’s one big reason why service renewals are having a greater impact on the bottom line for manufacturers than ever before.

5. No Sales Pipeline
One of the first and most important rules to remember with service sales is that they’re not just a one-time sale. They’re an annuity, and they go hand in hand with opportunities to expand your relationship with your customers across the full product and service lifecycle. Your installed base data can reveal a goldmine of sales opportunities — from service and subscription renewals, to unattached assets, accessory and consumable sales, product refresh opportunities and rebate and incentive programs. What that means is an instant sales pipeline for you, and a never-ending stream of revenue for your company. If you look at your service sales practice as a product and service lifecycle business, you’ll never be lacking a sales pipeline again.

6. Lack of Coordination with Channel Partners
Don’t make the rookie mistake of forgetting your channel partners. They are an important extension of your sales team, so collaborate with them on the front end by bringing their customer data into the mix as you get your business intelligence in order. And by all means, give them ongoing access to the sales pipeline you build so that they can work smarter and faster to achieve their sales quotas. It takes a team to be successful in services, and your partners may very well be the most important part of that team.

If you or your organization are making any of these rookie mistakes, it’s time to get your service revenue practice back on track. Familiarize yourself with the Four Basic Pillars of recurring service revenue to stay comfortably ahead of the game. Download our complimentary white paper now.

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

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.

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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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