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Uncover hidden profits in the enterprise network sales process with business intelligence, analytics, and automation

Ittai Bareket Issue: Global-ICT 2015
Article no.: 6
Topic: Uncover hidden profits in the enterprise network sales process with business intelligence, analytics, and automation
Author: Ittai Bareket
Title: CEO
Organisation: Netformx, Inc.
PDF size: 204KB

About author

Ittai Bareket, CEO, Netformx, Inc

Under Mr. Bareket’s strategic leadership Netformx has become the leader in enterprise sales enablement and actionable business insights. Netformx accelerates solution provider profits with powerful business intelligence, actionable insights, collaboration, and automation that connect people, information, and processes throughout the enterprise sales lifecycle.

Mr. Bareket joined Netformx in 2000 and had responsibility for sales, marketing, and operations before being appointed CEO in the summer of 2005. Previously he held positions at Mercury Interactive Corporation (now HP) including President of Mercury Interactive Japan K.K. and General Manager for Japan and Korea.

Article abstract

Automated processes can improve profitability across the entire sales lifecycle: from the opportunity, to quote, to post-sale analysis and channel management. Collaboration can be achieved with orchestrated workflows and business insights gained from analyses – in real time – across internal and external applications and data sources. By visualizing analytics engine results in simple dashboard graphics, insights are gleaned quickly so action can be taken promptly to recover hidden revenues and margin that would otherwise be lost. 

Full Article

The opportunity for communications service providers to provide networks, data centers, and cloud solutions for the global enterprise market (commercial or business market) is tremendous. Enterprise sales can generate more revenue than consumer services and be highly profitable. But too often this potential is not realized. As technology and deployment models evolve, carriers as well as systems integrators and resellers have struggled to make enterprise sales more profitable, to win new opportunities, and to increase customer satisfaction.

Why is profitability so difficult to attain? In contrast to the consumer market, each enterprise has fairly unique requirements and large companies typically seek a global solution linking offices in multiple countries, each with country-specific requirements. Solution providers need to stay up to date on a plethora of part numbers and complex, continually changing offerings and promotions provided by multiple vendors, plus their company’s own value-added services.

Engineers have to manually integrate information from disparate tools, third party and internal, and use spreadsheets and diagramming software to create end-to-end multivendor designs and proposals. Because the designs are not validated, error rates can be as high as 40%. Erroneous designs mean rework and downstream provisioning problems that lead to high cost-of-sales, reduced profitability, and frustrated customers.

Sales personnel often lack up-to-date access to company best practices and to vendor promotions and discounts. They might browse vendor websites for promotions before starting the design or take incentives into account after the Bill of Materials has been created, but these are highly inefficient manual processes.

The delivery of global enterprise communications solutions is increasingly a collaborative team effort involving, for example, sales, services, provisioning, and procurement. The coordination of manual processes, such as sharing spreadsheets, can be chaotic, time-consuming, and prone to error.

There are plenty of missed profits hidden in the back-end sales process, too. Most solution providers are not taking maximum advantage of vendor programs and promotions that enable them to increase their margins, which can either be passed on to the end customer to win deals or leveraged to increase deal profitability. Most times, they don’t realize they have such untapped opportunities. And even if they suspect they are not maximizing margins, it is an arduous task to manually sort through the maze of data and vendor requirements to identify and then recover the untapped profits. For large companies, the impact can be in the millions of dollars. In addition, senior management lack data and actionable insights to efficiently manage partners, deals, and employee certifications.

When sales cycles are long and discounts and promotions not taken advantage of, deals can be lost to the competition.

The value of business intelligence, analytics, and automation

Successful solution providers take an integrated, collaborative approach to the entire sales process. They use powerful business intelligence, analytics, and automation to provide the actionable insights they need to win more deals, ensure what they sell can be implemented successfully, and maximize profitability.

Automated processes can improve profitability across the entire sales lifecycle: from the opportunity, to quote, to post-sale analysis and channel management. Collaboration can be achieved with orchestrated workflows and business insights gained from analyses – in real time – across internal and external applications and data sources. By visualizing analytics engine results in simple dashboard graphics, insights are gleaned quickly so action can be taken promptly to recover hidden revenues and margin that would otherwise be lost.

Simplifying and automating the management of partners and vendor reward programs and incentives enables solution providers to capture more reward and promotion dollars and ensure their compliance. This increased visibility into the profitability of a given sales opportunity aids in making better business decisions that proactively increase profitability and drive operational efficiency.

These best-of-breed automated sales enablement solutions leverage a plethora of data and analytics engines to provide prescriptive intelligence throughout the sales process. Guiding the sales team to the solutions, while adhering to the company’s strategy, drives improved productivity and order accuracy substantially. The result is reduced costs, accelerated profitability, and increased customer satisfaction. Business intelligence, analytics, and automation enable management to uncover hidden profit opportunities. Solution providers that have not yet done these things are leaving money on the table.

Hidden profit opportunities

Sales automation solutions combined with business intelligence and analytics enable solution providers to uncover hidden profit opportunities in areas such as:

Automating the sales process. By using guided selling methodologies, best practices can be standardized throughout the sales team so accurate designs can be created with minimal dependence on experts. And an up-to-date, common knowledge base of configurable solutions, products, and services enables accurate and profitable customer proposals to be created every time, including country regulations and compliance requirements. The resulting implementations are generally error-free with near zero order fallout, significantly reducing truck rolls, returned equipment, and service level agreement infractions. When orders are created and fulfilled promptly and without error, solution provider revenues increase because of faster revenue realization and exceptional customer satisfaction. Margins also increase as expenses shrink thanks to reduced needs for human intervention. Using best-of-breed sales automation tools, some solution providers have increased their profitability more than 1% by reducing time-to-quote up to 80% and cutting time-to-market for new products, services, and promotions by as much as 50%. With the right solution, sales team productivity can double and implementation errors can be reduced by 99%.

Integrating vendor incentives in the design process. Prescriptive design means that designers are prompted with relevant options so they can select comparable parts or bundles having higher discounts and see the impact on the customer’s budget in real time. By cross-referencing each Bill of Materials line item against user certifications and promotion eligibility, substitutions can be identified that can yield better program participation. This can save 15-30 minutes per device.

Managing vendor incentive programs. Having the capability to create powerful reports and gather analytics enables solution providers to automatically track, analyze, and understand their vendor reward status. Prescriptive analytics and actionable insights ensure the ability to maximize incentive program rebates before booking orders. This increases reward rebates and therefore margins, so the solution provider can lower prices to become more competitive. Some best-of-breed solutions have identified an average of US$5K more margin hidden in the sales process for every US$100K in a Bill of Materials.

Aggregating purchasing data from different sources. By consolidating analyzed data by manufacturer and distributor in a powerful dashboard it is simple to identify actions that will increase profitability. For example, solution providers can not only see what services are being delivered but also the service brand and cost. They may find they can significantly improve their margins by selling their own branded services instead of lower margin vendor or distributor services.

Tracking and managing deals. A crucial component in optimizing a deal’s profitability across its lifecycle is the ability to gain complete visibility into the deals registered as well as their status and margin contribution. Managers who have a view into their order and promotion validation processes can see why deals are not closed and take action to avoid disqualification, registration expiration, or reduced incentives.

Automating employee certification tracking. Adhering to vendor requirements for maintaining certification and specialization is a daunting task that if not regularly accomplished can result in lost profits due to status termination. Automated employee certification tracking solutions with descriptive dashboards and actionable insights and alerts ensure appropriate certifications are in place so profitability is not impacted.

Conclusion

Automating the sales process enables solution providers to simplify the solution design process, accelerate the sales cycle, and enable higher levels of profitability. Profitability is increased by improving productivity, reducing errors and dependence on more highly paid experts, and by speeding time-to-quote and time-to-market.

Through powerful business analytics and prescriptive intelligence that identify actionable insights in real time, hidden profits can be discovered in the sales process.

These profit opportunities are there for the taking and result in a competitive advantage. And by increasing efficiency, customer satisfaction can be doubled.

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