Expanding your VAR enterprise

With this backdrop of explosive growth opportunities, the challenges for VAR executives become managing revenue growth and pursuing the highest margin opportunities – both in initial sales and ongoing client relationships. Professional services automation software applications provide VARs with a competitive advantage and can mean the difference between struggling to grow and profiting from abundant growth opportunities.

Benefits of Professional Services Automation Software for VARs

1. Executive Perspectives

Typically, VAR businesses begin by selling a core set of products and services. As they grow in success, they add more products and services, eventually bundling them in ways that clients prefer. The majority of VARs view their business through “business practise” lenses – those aspects of marketing and delivery that bring together the numerous disciplines required to create a client solution. Basic start-up system tools are no longer adequate; VARs require professional services automation software that manages and reports on products in the manner in which clients purchase them, through the lens of a practise.

#Example of how PSA Software can aid in executive insight improvement

Consider a network practise that combines hardware (servers, routers, and hubs) and software (security messaging and e-mail) components, as well as client education and network monitoring and management.

A CEO perspective summarises all practises and ranks them according to key performance indicators such as revenue, growth rate, and margins. Practice managers can monitor the progress of their projects and drill down to determine what is working and what is not. The critical point is that with the assistance of PSA software, VARs can monitor the business’s pulse and determine whether the market is expanding or contracting.

2. Client Visibility:

While all clients are valuable, some are more valuable to your bottom line than others. With the help of a PSA software, you can better understand a client’s lifetime value – revenue, projects, invoices, and opportunities – and thus shape your interactions with them.

Consider yourself from your client’s perspective.

Clients view their relationship with the VAR as a collection of their sales, receivables, service incidents, and other interactions.

Obtaining such details for even a single client is typically a time-consuming one-off spreadsheet exercise for a VAR. And, when it is completed, the rest of the organisation is typically excluded from the insights. As a result, the types of effective follow-up activities you want to have on a consistent basis – whether it’s an executive making a remedial call or initiating an incremental sales opportunity – do not occur.

All of that changes with professional services automation software. It provides executives with an instant snapshot of the most critical aspects of a client’s transactions: practise revenues and margins, purchasing patterns, service incidents, and invoice payment. It provides insight into the client’s relationship with the VAR and demonstrates the value the client adds to the VAR.

Utilizing this knowledge can result in a well-timed call from a senior executive, reinforcing your position and resulting in a deeper relationship. It’s the data you need to establish priorities, ensuring you look after your best clients while nurturing your most promising prospects.

#Continue to monitor ongoing interactions in order to maximise revenue growth

Numerous executives assess a client relationship’s health based on the number of interactions between the firms, recurring order patterns, and increasing order size. On the other hand, an increasing number of calls to a support centre regarding a recurring, nagging issue, or an excessive number of on-site visits that result in no sales. Using PSA software to identify shifts in purchasing patterns can act as an early warning system, assisting you in preventing a good client from leaving and identifying areas where new strategies may reignite purchases.

#Making your presence known to your clients fosters trust.

The ultimate deliverable is your ability to foster client trust and business value. Allowing clients to view their own daily interactions with you saves both the client and you time and money.

Clients can use the PSA software portal to determine whether payments have been received (and applied to the correct invoices), which invoices remain unpaid, which orders remain open (and whether any delivery information is available), how many service calls have been placed recently, and how many (which ones) remain open.

Once an order is placed, you initiate a project to design, install, commission, and ultimately accept the system. Throughout the project, your clients can use the PSA software portal to learn about the status of the project, to conduct internal reporting, and to communicate with one another.

Foresight Professional services automation software enables VARs to monitor the acceptance process and even ensure that a project meets its business improvement or return on investment (ROI) projections. Throughout this process, a savvy practise manager will be on the lookout for after market service sales opportunities.

3. Marketing Effectiveness:

Capturing true marketing costs and performance results in increased conversion rates and reduced wasteful spending.

According to an old marketing adage, 50% of advertising dollars are wasted – we just don’t know which 50%. Regrettably, the same holds true for VAR marketing expenditures. Through professional services automation software, you can track and compare the true costs of all aspects of your lead generation efforts. It is this type of information that ensures that winning propositions are repeated and that less-than-stellar efforts are discarded. Knowing the cost per lead and success rate of each campaign enables marketing operations to work more closely with the company’s mission of increasing revenue and pursuing high margin opportunities.

#Monitor pipeline activity to identify areas for growth stimulation.

Pipelines are difficult enough to manage on their own without having to contend with sandbagging or missed executions. Professional services automation software generates real-time reports for the sales executive, the chief financial officer, and the chief executive officer that detail the process from proposal to order to shipment and acceptance. Reports that assist you in determining proposal conversion rates, internal execution, and the effectiveness of your employees when on-site. This knowledge can assist you in identifying effective sales execution, identifying areas for improvement for individual salespeople, and determining what needs to be done to help cement a positive relationship with a client.

#Productize opportunities based on client feedback

Each VAR maintains a support centre for ongoing client support and installation projects. The data generated by these interactions can be a goldmine of new opportunities. PSA software identifies critical call issues, allowing you to assess them for potential add-on products and sales opportunities. Are you receiving a high volume of calls regarding end-user start-up issues? Perhaps an introductory training class should be held on-site. Do clients’ IT departments lack sufficient skills? Perhaps now is the time to evaluate a managed services offering.

PSA software for VARs can help you make informed decisions about when to productize services for repeatable, high margin sales and to identify emerging areas of interest for clients.

#Expedite upgrade opportunities by gaining insight into the installed environments of your clients.

By definition, the technology industry is perpetually on the lookout for the next breakthrough. Unfortunately, end user clients are incapable of keeping up with the relentless adoption of the latest and greatest. Indeed, they frequently underutilize any piece of equipment and may be unaware of the cost savings associated with certain upgrades.

It’s much easier to sell when you understand how and when your client purchases. Many IT directors have a budgetary model that is based on the concept of complete depreciation. Knowing when equipment depreciates allows for the automatic harvesting of this built-in financial understanding. Additionally, creative sales executives will view this as an opportunity to extend contractual terms beyond a single project or delivery. For instance, they may steal a deal by replacing all of a company’s PCs over a three-year period, as the systems reach 100% depreciation, and offering special payment terms to alleviate the pain associated with lump sum payments.

4. Internal Operations:

Managing technology implementations effectively requires that projects are completed on time and within budget. Real-time awareness enables the detection of margin leakage well in advance of it becoming a problem.

#Strict control over the introduction of new technologies can help accelerate revenue and contain ramp-up costs.

Developing a market-ready product for each new technology is not a trivial or inexpensive task. With strong project management capabilities, PSA software enables you to identify and manage critical ramp-up tasks such as obtaining licences, employee training and certification, setting up development environments, and arranging your product distribution network. Technology ramp-up is a massive internal project that requires significant capital expenditures, and profitability frequently depends on skilled project and budget management, as well as cost containment. PSA software tools provide time and cost management insights that can be used to ensure that your staff is prepared and that your rollout occurs on time and within budget.

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