How to stay organized and productive as a busy VAR
"This blog was originally published September 17, 2018"
You’re always looking for a better way to run your business. You want to find new ways to stay on track, work efficiently, and become more successful. For a product-centric business, two areas could prove to be the difference between taking your business to the next level or significantly hurting your potential growth: sales and services.
Let’s take a look at how these areas affect your business and how you can ensure efficiency, so your business doesn’t fall behind.
When it comes to closing deals, speed is the name of the game. Sales velocity—the rate at which you’re able to move a deal from first contact through to a successful close—has a direct impact on how many deals you win. However, keep in mind that you can’t sacrifice accuracy or quality for speed.
- Use online quoting and automating capabilities
Your clients are just as busy as you are. When they finally decide they are ready to purchase your product, you want to make the process as simple as possible. If it can’t be done with a click of the mouse, you could potentially lose the sale. Implement a quoting system that allows for e-signatures and online payments. Anything to make the buying process easy.
On your end, you’ll want to be notified when a quote has been opened. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies who contact prospects within an hour of receiving quotes are seven times more likely to talk with a key decision-maker than a company that waited more than an hour. If a prospect opens a quote and doesn’t act on it, you want to know why. Reach out and answer any questions the client may have to eliminate any worries they have about working with you.
To really improve your quoting process, you’ll want to automate it. It’s easy to make errors when you manually create quotes, and a simple mistake could cost you thousands in revenue. Experian says that an average of 59% of companies see human error as the reason for poor data quality. A simple mistake now can snowball into something much bigger.
- Product source the right way
A product sourcing tool can save you countless hours looking for prices, but only if you have the right one. Finding a tool that gives you real-time data from your preferred distributors lets you offer your clients the most competitive pricing.
Your clients are always looking for the best deal, and competitive pricing makes all the difference. You don’t want your clients looking elsewhere just because you didn’t have the right pricing information. Real-time pricing ensures the amount the client sees on their quote is the price they will pay. Nothing ends a deal quicker than having to provide a higher price than what was on the original quote.
- Simplify ordering with electronic ordering
Winning the deal is just the beginning. The real work starts after your client agrees to your terms and you put in orders. Like other processes, ordering products can be a very time-consuming part of your job—from tracking down prices and updating costs to actually creating purchase orders.
Electronic ordering in ConnectWise Sell® simplifies the ordering process into a few simple steps. With just a couple clicks of the mouse, you can compare product pricing and availability, and add them to your order when you’re ready. With the order set, push the order directly to top distributors.
- Leverage a CRM
As you add more customers, keeping each sale straight can be difficult. Having one tool to keep track of all your opportunities lets you see what needs a follow-up and what’s making its way through the cycle. If you don’t have a CRM to organize every opportunity, you could fall behind, lose track, or, worse, lose a valued client. As your company grows, so does the number and variety of your clients. Your CRM needs to scale along with you because the wrong CRM could lead to a critical mistake.
Here’s an example. Steve, the account manager for a big client, re-reads an email thread and makes a follow-up phone call. The problem is, Steve already followed-up on that email, and the client had to remind him of the call they had last week. Now, Steve looks unprofessional, and the client doesn’t trust that they will be valued.
Having a centralized location for every opportunity allows you to have a better look into what needs your attention and what doesn’t. You can now spend your time on what’s important—and avoid serious mistakes, unlike Steve.
Shrinking margins, heightened competition, and lower-than-expected valuations are challenging VARs to explore other sources of revenue and adopt managed services offerings. Keeping your growing services business afloat while staying organized can feel like a juggling act.
As a VAR, you might be struggling with too much time spent on repetitive tasks, too little visibility into your team activities, difficulty holding your team accountable, and not knowing the solutions to alleviate these issues.
- Keep your team organized and accountable
As you start to offer managed services, you need a way to manage and track the work your team is doing easily. And to make sure they are working on the right issues at the right time, you need to implement a dispatching strategy.
Dispatching ensures techs are assigned to issues they are qualified to work on and that issues are addressed on time. Without a dispatching process, your techs would be free to cherry-pick the work they want to do and likely lead to tickets going unnoticed and untouched. Nothing leads to a rocky partnership quicker than having your client feel like their issues are being ignored.
To make sure the process runs efficiently, you’ll need to assign a dedicated dispatcher. This can be a full-time role or assigned to multiple techs to rotate into the role throughout the week. Once you figure out who will take on the responsibility, give them the resources they need to do the job effectively. Ensure they know each tech’s skills and credentials. Give them access to techs’ calendars. Task the dispatcher with confirming accuracy.
They’ll also need the right tool. ConnectWise Manage® help desk functions allow your dispatcher to easily and proactively monitor what your team is working on to keep operations flowing smoothly.
- Centralize information in your PSA
If you’re using multiple systems to hold your sales and client information, you run the risk of losing valuable information in the handoff between sales and services. For starters, your systems might not communicate with each other. Information isn’t seamlessly passed between systems, and information might be missed. Another risk is encountering mistakes while entering information more than once. Human error can lead to prices being incorrect or forgetting services, which can cost you money down the road.
With a centralized CRM or professional services automation (PSA) tool like ConnectWise Manage, all your information is stored in one, easy to manage location. And with the integration between ConnectWise Manage and ConnectWise Sell, you can convert closed deals into projects automatically.
Bring it all together with tools that integrate and automate
InformationAge shows that 90% of employees are performing tasks that could be automated. That not only takes up a lot of time that could be used on more critical projects, but also increases the likelihood of mistakes happening. Automation increases productivity and efficiency while decreasing costs and human error. The right tools can make all the difference.
When you’re researching, make sure your tools that automate your business can communicate with each other, like ConnectWise Manage® and ConnectWise Sell®. Find a system that sources products, generates quotes, inputs information into your CRM, and adds activities to your calendar. All of this gives you better visibility into your sales pipeline and makes closing deals much easier.