Do I Need a CRM System?

As you look for ways to accommodate the growth of your company, it is natural to seek out tools to optimize the various aspects of work required to do business. One of the most often implemented of these tools is a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system.

CRM software organizes and collates cloud-based data sets including information on customers, prospects and leads, sales records, marketing, support, forecasting, and more. A good CRM implementation provides a centralized place for salespeople to input and keeps track of data. It helps managers make data-driven decisions, build forecasting dashboards, and support workflow automation.

CRM systems can clearly be beneficial, but does your company really need to make the investment in this product, as well as the time to train employees?

Here are some factors to think about when you are considering the purchase of a CRM system.

Are Prospects Being Overlooked or Dropped?

“A shocking 46% of qualified leads end up as missed opportunities.”

Not only can a CRM system perform as an electronic Rolodex, recording the contact information for new leads, but it can also keep track of prospect interactions, automatically schedule meetings, follow-ups, and reminders, and help sales representatives prioritize customer leads and gather more complete personalized information to drive workflow. This opportunity management eliminates the need for handwritten spreadsheets and notes and increases efficiency.

Do You Have Employees Communicating with Multiple Contacts at Your Customer/Prospect Locations?

Using a cloud-based CRM means that members of your team from all departments have access to the entire history of client/lead interactions, regardless of who inputs the data. Team members can update information in real-time, even if they are working remotely, eliminating miscommunications caused by overlooked messages and streamlining interdepartmental collaboration all the way through the sales process.

Are You Operating B2B or B2C?

If you are considering a CRM tool, chances are you are a B2B (business to business) company, and your contacts belong to accounts that represent the companies you do business with. This is the model that CRM products are designed to accommodate. If you are a B2C (business to consumer) company, a simple contact management system may be the more economically wise choice.

What is the Basis for Decision Making in Your Company?

Are your business decisions instinctual or data-driven? CRM systems provide quantitative data, such as key sales metrics. This can inform better decisions at all levels of your company. Team members can contribute valuable data on sales, marketing pitches, customer and lead interactions, and spending habits. “Data analytics tools can help you make sense of what you take in and spot trends and patterns that are invisible to human eyes (Reference #4)”

Getting Started With SalesChain

This getting started video outlines some of the onboarding process and is used to help dealers switching to SalesChain understand the depth of automation we can offer.

How Large is Your Sales Team?

If you operate with a sales team, a CRM system can optimize your business in two ways: helping your reps keep track of each other and helping you keep track of them. With a CRM, your reps can respect the territory assignments of their peers and more smoothly pass a lead from one rep to another. Managers can monitor their sales team’s performance, see which marketing strategies are working the best and make substantive suggestions for next steps.

How Complicated is Your Sales Cycle?

Depending on the products you sell, the length and complexity of your sales pipeline could make it difficult to keep manual track of the history of a particular deal. A CRM system documents each step in the process and makes it accessible to all involved employees, ensuring that no information is lost, overlooked, or repeated as the deal passes from sales to fulfillment to billing to delivery to support.

Are You Running Marketing Campaigns?

In today’s digital business world, companies are exploiting numerous marketing avenues. Sales representatives must be familiar with how marketing strategies have engaged with leads and customers before they interact with them. CRM tools can consolidate all this data, as well as helping the marketing department automate web marketing, personalize communications, generate content, optimize search engine results, and create online content. “Seventy two percent of customers will not engage with messaging that is not personalized. Showing customers what they want to see and where they want to see it will increase your chances of making a sale.”

You Probably Do Not Need a CRM If:

  • You already have a viable plan to manage the potential scale-up of your business successfully.
  • You are a very small company, without a large sales staff to manage.
  • You have only a small number of new leads or routinely handle just a few larger customers.
  • It is the nature of your business to have a short sales cycle with little or no repeat business, and you do not need to record customer histories.
  • You are selling B2C, especially via e-commerce. Here you might be better off with a dedicated B2C marketing system that captures sales history instead of adopting a CRM system.

Conclusion

Evaluating the need for a CRM system is an important step toward expanding your business.  Before making the financial and training investment in such a software platform it would be helpful to consider your answers to the above questions.  If you answered yes to any of them, you may want to begin the process of finding the product that is right for you.  CRM systems are expandable and customizable, giving you the ability to digitally store, organize, retrieve, and analyze multiple types of data, benefiting all departments in your business.  When you facilitate communication with a quality CRM system, workflows are automated, lead volumes are boosted, deals are closed faster, support teams are more helpful to customers, churn rates are lowered, and your entire team can communicate more effectively!

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

One System, One Solution. What Do We Mean and Why Does it Matter?

Explaining “One System”

SalesChain is proud to offer office technology dealers with IT and other offerings “One System, One Solution” for their business process automation software needs. What do we really mean by that slogan?

In today’s digital world, we have grown accustomed to electronic and online formats to efficiently run all aspects of our businesses. If you are in the office technology field, you know that sales, back-office functions, and analytics are all data-rich functions. Businesses employ the use of specialized software to manage and understand this abundance of information.

There are many perfectly adequate products to automate each individual part of your company. But investing in individual systems brings with it inherent problems. User training and buy-in, system compatibility, consistency of information, and troubleshooting are segmented between each software provider with mixed results and separate processes.

What we are suggesting instead is the implementation of a single, unified system that seamlessly connects all the separate processes required to keep your business running.

SalesChain platinum is the ultimate toolbox for office technology dealers and the individual but linked software components are your tools for all the different offerings that your business sells in one place. We offer a single system that can help track the presales and sales process, price proposals and generate documentation, and fulfill orders in every segment you serve.

One System for Dealers in Imaging and IT.

Watch this brief video to learn a bit about where our offering is headed in 2022!

Why is this important to Dealers?

The Problem: In the office technology field, there are currently separate software ecosystems to accommodate sales in imaging (printing hardware, solutions, accessories and machine leasing and sales), IT (products and services), and management functions (forecasting, analytics, and commissioning). While all of these are certainly useful tools, they require separate data entry, can slow down the sales process, and increase the chances of user error.

Why is this a problem? Separate systems mean separate data. Whether it is a note an imaging rep made in their CRM, or a quote priced in their IT pricing system, your business can only work as a unified force if everyone has access to all this information in one place. The ability to track sales of disparate products recorded by multiple sales representatives gives both employees and management a more complete picture of the status of the business and allows for more comprehensive analysis using data sets that expand analytics capabilities.

What are the benefits? Having all this data in one place saves your staff valuable time, makes reporting more accurate, and helps your business become more efficient. Everyone in your business can be on the same page, working with a much more complete understanding of the business. What is more, workflow automation streamlines your entire operation.

Why now? Product diversification is becoming increasingly necessary, as office technology dealers focus on offerings that are compelling for WFH and hybrid offices. This undoubtedly requires providing a comprehensive combination of print and IT products and services. Post-pandemic changes to the office equipment and technology channel are driving this need to be flexible to remain relevant. The most successful companies will be the ones that position themselves for a quick pivot in their offerings to their clients.

What does “One System” include in SalesChain?

SalesChain’s CRM platform is the heart of our sales solution, and we evolved from lease portfolio management. But our software has evolved to offer a suite of purpose-built tools for every member of your business.

SalesChain incorporates five or more of our competitors’ tools into a single software for a system that goes way beyond a typical CRM service to offer fully immersive business automation and industry-specific support. Our platinum suite includes legal and marketing document generation, integrated commissions, and more. We provide automation solutions for your entire organization, with 24-hour access to our cloud-based platform.
Here are just some of the advantages available to you:

Our mission is to help our clients maximize efficiency with actionable data generated through powerful automation. That is why SalesChain is the complete business automation solution for office technology dealers and how we can offer one system, one solution for all aspects of your business.

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

A Dictionary of Office Technology Acronyms

No matter what the industry, they all seem to have their own unique, and often unspoken, set of semantics. These include phrases, shortcuts, abbreviations, and acronyms that become commonly used in spoken and written communications, but that can seem like a foreign language to the uninitiated.

When one is first hired into a new field, “learning the lingo” can seem like a nearly insurmountable first step to feeling comfortable with colleagues and producing professional work. A motivated new employee may look for a way to easily educate themselves regarding these terms that are new to them, only to be frustrated with a lack of formal reference tools to help them. An intuitive first step nowadays would be to “google it”, but it is frustrating and time-consuming to look these up on the internet one at a time.

Because of this, we decided to collect a list of the industry acronyms we’ve encountered over the years and post them here.

The following includes an alphabetical listing of acronyms, some of which are general business terms (DBA and PO for example) and some of which are specific to the office technology field (MIF for example).

Dictionary of Industry Acronyms

ACH – automated clearing house (auto withdraw)

AMS – Application management system

AOD – Admin on Demand

API –   Application Programming Interface

B2B – business to business

B2C – business to client/customer

BC – bill customer

BI – Business Intelligence

Blob- binary large object

BPA – business process automation

CB – charge back

CEO Juice – this is a company survey company, handles invoices

CFS – Canon financial services

CompEQ – competitive equipment

CPC – cost per copy

CPI – cost per image

CRD – central reprographics department

CRM – Customer Relationship Management (Accelerate is an example)

CSMP – Canon Strategic Marketing Program

CUP – customer upgrade

DBA – doing business as

DCA – data collection agent

DO- dealership owned; also, dollar out (for a lease)

DSO – Days Shipped Outstanding?

e-Automate – a backend accounting system

EBR – executive business review

EDA – electronic design automation

EOD – end of day

EQ – equipment request

ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning

FCO – finance company

FMV – Fair Market Value (for a lease)

GMA – general maintenance agreement (for service)

GP – gross profit

GUI – graphic user interface

HaaS – hardware as a service

HDC – hard drive cleanse

ICP – ideal customer profile

IPDS – intelligent printer data stream

KPI – key performance indicators

LSR – lease return

MIF – machines in field

MFD – multi-function devices

MFP – multi-function printers

MNS – Managed Network Services

MPS – Managed Print Services

MSP – Managed services provider

MSRP – manufacturer’s suggested retail price (list price)

MVP – maximal viable product

NLWC – no longer with the company

NNC – net new customer

NNP – net new placement

OBD – order breakdown

OC – order coordinator

OEM – original equipment manufacturer

OMD – a backend accounting system

PA – price and availability

PO – purchase order

POP – point of purchase

POS – point of sale

PIP – Practice Integration Profile

PSA – professional services automation

PSP – Print Service Providers

RMA – Return merchandise authorization, Term used to return stuff that is broken, usually under warranty!

ROI – return on investment

RFP – request for proposal

SaaS – software as a service

SAO- same address as the office

SD – strategy development

SEO – search engine optimization

SIC – standard industrial classification – in the SalesChain system it is used to classify client customers into different categories

SME – subject matter expert

SPM – service pricing module

SRA – Sales Representative Assignments

SWOT – strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat

TCO – total cost of ownership

TCV – total customer view

TFA – two factor authorization

UI – user interface

VAR – value added retailer

WF – workflow

 

We plan to continue adding to this list, and to add definitions as we go, so check back on this page periodically for updates!

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

GreatAmerica Financial Services and SalesChain Team Up for Credit Application Submittal Tutorial Video

20 years ago, SalesChain was founded as a lease portfolio management platform. Though our offering has expanded to include best in class CRM, proposal and order pricing, commissions and document generation tools, leasing has always remained at the core of our platform.

For this reason, we have always maintained strong relationships with the office technology industry’s top leasing companies. We have bidirectional integrations with many of these platforms, allowing SalesChain to pull lease portfolios from the finance companies as well as push credit applications directly into their systems.

In celebration of our awesome integration, Robin Fonck of GreatAmerica Financial Services joined SalesChain University host Matt Szczygiel in the creation of a credit application submittal tutorial for SalesChain users. You can watch the video or read a transcription below!

About SalesChain: SalesChain is the complete business automation solution for office equipment dealers. A CIO Magazine top 10 Workflow Automation Company, their goal is to help businesses see greater profitability and increased efficiency through better automation and synchronized data. SalesChain helps dealers create smart data that can be used across the business to create more efficient operations.

About GreatAmerica: GreatAmerica is the largest independent, family-owned national commercial equipment finance company in the U.S. with over $2.4 billion in assets and life-to-date finance originations of $13.5 billion. GreatAmerica was established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1992 and today is organized into six divisions. It has a staff of over 600 employees with offices in Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, and Illinois.

Watch The Tutorial Here!

Or Find it Online at SalesChain University’s YouTube Channel.

Transcription

Matt Szczygiel, SalesChain: In this video, we’ll show you how to submit a credit application through SalesChain’s order breakdown utility. And one of our friends at GreatAmerica Financial Services will show you how submitting your credit application through SalesChain can help make the process smoother for you.

Before you submit a credit request for approval through SalesChain, there are a couple of things we can check to make sure that all our information is as accurate as possible before we hit submit.

First, we want to make sure that equipment configurations and our manifest use is accurate as possible. If you don’t have your equipment properly configured in SalesChain, this may impact the dollar amount that your client is approved or declined for. You can check the configuration of your equipment in the products tab of SalesChain’s order breakdown.

Next, let’s move to the Pricing Tab of our order and take a look at the Financing Summary.

We want to make sure that the credit level, leasing company, product, and term are correct. Notice that the level and factor will be calculated for you by the system automatically, but that you do have override capabilities for that factor if necessary.

We want to make sure that we’ve entered a correct lease buyout value for either a competitive lease, our own lease, or both in the pricing tab as well. It’s important that these numbers are placed in the correct location so that the credit application can be properly filled out and submitted.

If the customer is upgrading a lease where your company was the selling dealer, you need to enter the dollar amount into the lease upgrade field (which may or may not be marked with your company name).

If you’re buying a customer out of a competitive lease, use the competitive lease upgrade box. If your company charges the lease return fee, there may be a field where you can enter this value as well.

It is possible to associate this new deal with an existing lease if it is in your SalesChain system. We’ll do this in the Financing Tab of the order breakdown. You’ll see that the dollar value for the lease buyout value, if you entered one, has carried through to this screen as well.

I’ll click lookup to see if there are any leases with this account existing and use the checkboxes on the left-hand side to select whatever leases I want to associate this deal with.

You can select one or many existing leases. Once I’ve selected the lease or leases that I’m upgrading on this deal, I can designate this as an upgrade to return, an upgrade, to keep, etc. using the upgrade types dropdown.

I’ve invited Robin Fonck of Great America to come record with me today, and she’ll start by telling us what information they are looking for once this credit application hits their system.

Robin Fonck, GreatAmerica: So, most of the time we are looking for a variety of information in the credit application, really helping us understand the situation. So, items like the application type, are we looking at a dollar out or are we looking at maybe an FMV? We’re looking for the total financed amount. We’re looking for the terms so how long do we want the contract to last for?

We’re looking at possible purchase options at the end of the agreement. And lastly, we’re really looking for any additional customer information that you can share with us. So, once we have all of that information in our system, we begin processing the application and then we can reach out to you with any additional questions. Any information that provides clarity to the request can help speed the approval process and really improve the end user experience.

So, whether that’s the invoicing needs, the billing requirements or even possible future changes to the contract, the more we know, the easier the process can be.

Matt Szczygiel, SalesChain: Alright, now that we’ve done our due diligence and double-checked these figures, we’re ready to submit our credit application. In the Finance tab, I’ll click “submit applications”. I’ll be presented with a dialog box that lets me select which of my finance companies I want to submit this credit application to. In this case, I’m going to select GreatAmerica and click “Submit” at the bottom right-hand corner.

When a credit request has been submitted, your line item will be assigned a credit app ID, the date and time will be recorded, the financing company’s application ID will be returned, and a message will appear at the top in red, confirming that the request has been submitted. At this point, you can hit close and exit your proposal and order.

Any additional attempts to submit a credit request from this order will be met with a dialog box telling you that a request has already been submitted.

Robin, what sort of advantages can this process have for dealers?

Robin Fonck, GreatAmerica: So, solution providers really just like SalesChain and GreatAmerica using the integration for submitting credit applications will realize a significant runtime advantage over maybe emailing in or calling in any of the applications. So, our integration enables users to enter the credit application information directly into our booking system, which eliminates the entire idea of having a middleman that will enter system information in two or three different systems just to get the application to GreatAmerica.

It expedites the process and really, truly leads to a faster turn time once the application hits our system, you’ll be able to track it with regular updates from GreatAmerica directly in SalesChain.

Matt Szczygiel, SalesChain: After you’ve submitted your credit application, it’s easy to track its status using SalesChain’s Credit Desk. This is a dedicated screen designed with the leasing coordinator in mind. It helps to track and organize credit applications and their statuses across different leasing companies all in one place. This tool also helps users manage and process conditional approvals and declines.

Automated communication tools and workflow notifications are built in to notify the sales team of important actions like conditional approvals or declines.

Robin Fonck, GreatAmerica: So, keep in mind that this does not change the GreatAmerica’s approach to processing or notifying you of the status of a deal. The traditional process that you know and love about GreatAmerica’s approach to financing and communication will remain the same. This truly, just as an additional layer of visibility into the process.

Matt Szczygiel, SalesChain: So is that what makes submitting credit applications through SalesChain really spectacular or is it something else that makes it a little bit easier?

Robin Fonck, GreatAmerica: Well, SalesChain is spectacular anyway, but the added benefit of the integration, being able to take out that middleman truly helps everybody in the process, really achieve the transparency that we need in each of the deals and the communication that we need in each of the deals. So really, over the last several years, SalesChain has really advanced their integrations with GreatAmerica.

Personally, I’ve been incredibly impressed with your support team. SalesChain has always been very responsive with problem solving and customer service questions. Truly, this partnership makes it easier to do business together, and it helps bring as many possible integration solutions as possible to our end users.

Matt Szczygiel, SalesChain: Well, Robin, thank you very much for your time today. We really appreciate your contributions, your insight, your genius. Obviously, we love GreatAmerica, too, and it’s been very easy working with you as partners. So, thanks again for your time.

If you have any additional questions about the credit application submittal process, please feel free to contact our support desk at 203-262-1611. One of our Help Desk experts would be happy to assist you with your questions. You can also email us at support@saleschain.com. Be sure to subscribe to this channel so that you don’t miss any other helpful tutorials like this one.

And if this helped you with the credit app submittal process, give it a light down below. Please be sure to check out GreatAmerica Financial Services at their website. GreatAmerica.com and until next time, have a great rest of your day.

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

Seven Questions to Ask When Choosing A CRM Provider

How to assess a CRM before investing

Where do you start when your company is ready to incorporate a CRM program into your business model? If you are considering this important and efficient upgrade, you have doubtless already spent untold hours developing your enterprise and putting your unique spin on it. You need a sales CRM platform that integrates seamlessly and connects with every aspect of your business.

A viable CRM system will manage all your company’s relationships and interactions with both prospective and current customers. You want it to optimize sales by helping your reps better engage with prospects, track interactions with current clients, organize communication records, calendars, schedules, sales and service records, competitor equipment records, marketing data, and much more. Used correctly, this tool can create and drive complex workflows for an entire sales team and give management the ability to track employee progress in real-time.

Careful consideration of the following questions will help ensure that your CRM investment is sound, providing a valuable resource for your business both now and in the future.

What are our goals with this system?

A CRM system is much more than a data repository. What you want this tool to do and how your employees will use it is as unique as the way you do business. When you begin shopping for options, it can be very helpful to spend time defining specific and measurable goals with which to evaluate CRM platforms available on the market.

A good first step is to define your sales team’s top priorities. Look for products that automate repetitive sales tasks, so that reps can focus on closing deals rather than being bogged down with manual data entry.

Beyond that, what is it most important for your management tool to do? Spend time evaluating data storage, potential, and current client database reporting, lead tracking, training, sales pipeline management, reporting, and marketing outreach functionality when considering a CRM program.

Collaborate with your entire team and solicit their input on what they deem to be essential goals.

  • Do you want to formalize and document your sales and delivery workflow?
  • Do you want to increase time management skills for your reps?
  • Do you want to automate sales outreach? Do you want to reach a particular deal close rate within a certain timeframe?

Choose several top goals as benchmarks when you are assessing CRM systems.

What are our must-have Features?

Different CRM systems have different features. They may focus on different client communication modes, different ways to log and analyze sales data, or different pipeline management tools. You are seeking the CRM software that best fits the way your company does business today, with the ability to expand into future markets as well. Have your team look at where most of your company resources are invested right now. Identify key workflows, as well as soliciting insights from your team into areas of improvement.

Narrow down your CRM choices to those which align with these workflows, and desired areas of improvement and market development.

Are you looking for…

  • streamlined automation?
  • increased communication between teams?
  • new lead management tools?
  • integration between the sales and marketing departments?

Combine the top desired features with your company goals to narrow down the list of new CRM products you will consider.

How will we drive user adoption?

User adoption is critical to seeing a return on investment for any software tool. It is critical to craft a strategy to ensure user adoption. Who will use the system? Ideally, your CRM is a tool to link different departments with a common database and tools to optimize their use.

Engage all staff in a conversation before adoption. Take time to understand their pain points and their concerns. Involve them in choosing a system that addresses those concerns. Assure them that there will be adequate training, support, feedback opportunities, and system evaluation in place.

Using a tool is certainly better than just observing it. Make sure there is adequate meeting time and opportunities for direct demonstration with all stakeholders. Remind them that a data-driven business culture facilitated by a CRM system can provide both better customer service and increased revenue.

Getting Started With SalesChain

This getting started video outlines some of the onboarding process and is used to help dealers switching to SalesChain understand the depth of automation we can offer.

What integrations do we need?

Most enterprises make use of multiple software products to manage various aspects of their business workflow. Integrating your CRM system with other key industry software products can streamline that workflow. It precludes the necessity of populating the same data across disparate programs and applications. Eliminating that duplicity also reduces the error inherent in manual data entry.

Start by generating a list of all the current products and applications that your company makes use of.

  • Do you need to synchronize calendar information?
  • Do you need to share sales pipeline data across departments?
  • Do you need to pull in leads from other databases?
  • Do you need to add marketing data to your contact list?

Now evaluate CRM products with an eye to these integration needs. Search for a tool that already integrates with as many of your needs as possible. If there is one you cannot find, see if the CRM software offers an API to connect you through.

What KPIs will we track in our CRM?

Tracking KPIs, such as sales metrics, provides vital information used to set business goals, evaluate workflows, and identify areas that need improvement. But this data analysis should not only be the purview of the managerial staff. All employees are stakeholders – when the company does well, they do well. A CRM platform that provides your sales team with the ability to examine key sales numbers within a powerful business intelligence module not only saves time but elucidates areas of concern as well as improvement. This data can help measure the success of all your teams as well as your workflow process. Consider not only sales activity data, but lead projection, revenue, support services, and marketing data as well, in your evaluation of CRM products.

What support/customization is available?

Avoid purchasing a CRM package that is cost-effective but offers minimal features to fulfill your company’s requirements. By using software designed to meet the needs of your industry and, more importantly, the needs of your business, you will be optimizing your investment and saving time in the long run. When your software developer is familiar with the specifics of your industry, they can provide a workflow process that makes sense. They should also have professionally trained call center personnel to provide detailed and expert customer training and support for all the members of your team.

What should you do if you’re considering changing CRM systems?

If you are an office technology dealer, SalesChain represents your number one choice. When your organization partners with our industry-specific software solution, you are presented with a set of tools that is specific to the functions of your business and easily upgradable with collaborative customization. Because there is a clear workflow, and clear utilities to facilitate your unique sales process, your organization can take advantage of our system much more effectively.

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

Customize Your Automation Software with Industry-Focused Options

Buying software for your business is hard. Determining whether the system you purchase will fit your team’s workflow is a major consideration. Ultimately, you want to know if the use of the system will catch on. If your team ends up fighting the software or using workarounds, user adoption is less likely.

Many software platforms are configurable, allowing you to change options, wording, and workflows. This can help to dramatically reduce the shock of changing systems – as your team’s vernacular, documents, options, and data are all represented in the new system. This is not to say that switching software will not be a big change, or challenging, but that configuration steps can help to lessen the difficulty of the transition.

To expand on the idea of software configuration, we’ve outlined some of the common configuration steps that SalesChain’s onboarding team performs for every customer that signs on.

CRM Drop-Down Selections

When you’re learning a new software system, it can feel a bit like learning a new language! Some terms which reference common vocabulary can vary in different platforms, such as referring to a prospect for sale as a lead vs an opportunity.

It can be a lot easier to adopt a new software system if the terms and options in drop-down menus are familiar. Many CRM companies, including SalesChain, allow the setup of custom drop-down items, helping maintain some consistency and familiarity in the everyday terms your business team uses.

For example, we allow the configuration of different action types when a user creates or completes a task in our system. Your business can designate a certain call you’ve made as a “First Contact” or “Touch Base” rather than using the default “Call.” However detailed you want to get, whatever vernacular you use, this configuration step can help users feel more at home in the system.

In SalesChain, some drop-down options will populate automatically as your system evolves. For example, users who can see multiple sales reps in the system (managers, admins, owners, etc.) will see the “Sales Rep” drop-downs evolve automatically when a new user is added.

Your Marketing Data

Implementing a customized CRM platform can synchronize the efforts of your sales and marketing teams.  To make this symbiosis work, there are a few terms that can be configured in our system to align language and make the handoff as smooth as possible.

  • Lead Sources
  • Lead Statuses
  • Lead confidence tiers
  • Competitive vendor, lease, and equipment tracking

Of course, if you have sources for this information like EDA Data or ZoomInfo, we offer import tools and integrations to help with the continued data transfer process.

Case Study: Delivery Workflow Automation

In this video testimonial, Crystal Manning talks about how SalesChain’s delivery workflow management tools cut KDI’s DSO in half.

Your Quoting Fields

If you’re an owner or a sales rep in the heat of pricing a deal, you know that it can be very frustrating to not know where to find a certain field or to not know the name by which it is referenced.

While some quoting tools make it very difficult to customize pricing forms or lock you into certain terminology, SalesChain has made it a goal to make our order pricing fields as customized as possible. Whether it’s special credits, miscellaneous fees, or a delivery charge, we can add or subtract fields from our pricing screen that suit your business’ needs and terminology.

This is for the simple reason that every one of our customers does deals a bit differently, and we want to make sure that you can do your transactions in the way that makes the most sense for you.

Here are some examples of the customizable parameters that already exist within the SalesChain platform:

  • Manufacturer Credits/Price Levels
  • Your catalogs and pricing
  • Service rates
  • Markups
  • Choices of manufacturers and distributors

Your Document Templates

Any document generation system should be robust enough for you to import your own document templates. If you have to switch your entire paperwork library while also dealing with the switch to a different software platform, the changes in your business can get a bit overwhelming for your team.

We built SalesChain’s document generation system with flexibility in mind. We help our customers import their templates for:

  • Proposals
  • Lease Agreements
  • Order Forms
  • Service (Maintenance) Agreements
  • Equipment build sheets
  • Lease buyout acknowledgment letters
  • And more

This can help make your team’s transition easier since the documents they’re using will already be familiar, and, as a bonus, can help make your branding more cohesive.

Your Workflow Processes

After the prospecting and order processes are done, your fulfillment automation system needs to reflect the workflow steps that your team follows. SalesChain can help you to design customized delivery workflows that best represent the working steps needed to complete each type of product or service that your business offers. For example, fulfilling an order for two copiers involves different steps than providing IT services for a law firm. Each step of the process may be defined with characteristics that include:

  • Sequence of work
  • Dependencies
  • Assignment of responsibility
  • Notifications of assignment and completion
  • Trigger dependent steps

20 years of industry experience led to this

It is frustrating to try and force these workflow steps into a cookie-cutter business automation platform that does not meet your needs.

SalesChain’s corporate culture and philosophy have been molded over the course of 20 years of experience in the office technology industry.  The fundamental difference in philosophy that sets SalesChain apart is: We do it for you!  We have developed customizations within the CRM and Business Automation space already so that you do not need to spend time making them yourself or invest the resources in an employee to manage them.

But our commitment to you does not end there.  If there is a chart, report, or other custom feature that we do not already have, we are happy to collaborate with you to make that addition. The key to the success of our product is that we are industry-focused, providing you with customizations that make sense for the products you sell.

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

Why Should You Automate Your Sales Commissions?

For years, standard business practice dictated the use of spreadsheets for everything from tracking expenses to billing clients, to payroll and even sales commissions. But the use of spreadsheets, especially for sales commissions, can come at the expense of increased time and reduced accuracy.

If you are still using spreadsheets to calculate your sales commissions, there are several current technologies and software products that you can use to help automate the process instead. We’ve outlined several compelling reasons to automate your sales commissions with a dedicated software tool.

Reduce Errors

Handling commissions manually through spreadsheets is a process that is prone to error. A structured commissions system provides a concrete and highly accurate alternative.  It is configured upon onboarding and can reduce the number of errors in commissions – saving the processor and the company time and money.

Tools like SalesChain, which already include deal pricing data in the platform, allow businesses to process commissions quickly, easily, and automatically. SalesChain customers enjoy the consistent accuracy of pricing for both hardware and IT services provided by our catalogs made easy service and integrations to major IT distributors. This contributes greatly to the accuracy of commission figures.

Reduce Time to Process Commissions

No matter the complexity or intricacy of your documents, preparing sales commissions in Excel is a time-consuming process.

Generally, spreadsheets are created to track one task, and as it expands more formulas are added, which can complicate the process. All new data must be entered manually, and all-new formulas must be configured by your team. This takes valuable time and effort away from the other tasks of the normal workday. If you add in the complex multi-tier commissions structures found in most modern companies, spreadsheet maintenance becomes a major commitment. We often find that, within larger organizations, the resources of a full-time staff member must be dedicated to implementing this outmoded method.

Instead of emailing out spreadsheets or commission statements, accounting and sales teams can access their personal data at any time on the platform. By eliminating tedious manual tasks and streamlining communication between different departments, you can quickly and accurately forecast new sales commission structures.

Due to the reduction in errors, the automated nature of calculations, data integration, and clear reporting, commission administrators can expect to significantly reduce the time required to calculate and pay commissions.  Their efforts can be re-deployed to complete tasks that add more value to the company as well, helping businesses grow without adding more resources.

Increase Consistency

Sales reps, like all employees, want a clear picture of what they stand to make at any time. By automating the calculation process, you can build trust with your sales team by providing a transparent and timely process.

SalesChain can give sales reps information on their overall performance, how much money they are making, where their revenue is coming from, and their expected commission outcome.

As a bonus, with the software automation of sales commissions calculations, accounting personnel can focus on scenario modeling for the future. Automation reduces or altogether eliminates calculation errors and ensures businesses are paying correctly.

SalesChain Case Study

Pricing Proposals and Paying Commissions Faster with John Kerling of United Business Systems

Build Trust in Your Financial Data

Having been burned by inaccurate calculations, salespeople often distrust the commission calculation process. The automation of the calculation process. access to all the data related to the forecasting and order pricing process, and clear reporting, allows salespeople to develop trust in the process.

The hiring and retention of employees can be enhanced with a clear, reliable process as well. Commission administrators have a hard job because of the frustrations of calculating commissions. This contributes to a high turnover. With the drudgery removed from their jobs, there is less turnover in this role.

Use Data to Plan Ahead

Your finance department needs to know what the commission cost forecast is for the year. Therefore, you need a reliable way to generate forecasting data.

This is another area where a good commission product pays for itself. It should contain the data model, the calculation engine, and the reporting power to support detailed forecasting. If you try to build this solution on your Salesforce cloud, you are doing it all from scratch.

With a platform such as SalesChain, all transactions and calculations are stored in the system, allowing the commission module to report comprehensively on sales commission information. Analytical and dashboard functions allow the user to slice and dice the information available in various ways. Additional reports can be easily created from the basic system.

SalesChain Commissions

SalesChain is the only provider in the industry whose business automation system contains a built-in commissions module. This integrated accounting approach allows for greater understanding through transparency. When the commission system is calculated within the same system that is used to price deals, that information is the most up-to-date and remains untainted by human or machine error. Because of the wealth of information that automatically syncs to update within the system, users of the software can immediately know who is selling what, when, and with the greatest success. Read more here.

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

CRM vs. ERP: What’s The Difference?

Businesses looking to automate core processes can weigh the advantages and disadvantages of two main software solutions: enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). ERP helps companies run successfully by connecting their financial and operational systems to a central database, while CRM helps manage how customers interact with their businesses.

What is a CRM System?

In the modern business world, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) represents the digital equivalent of the 20th-century Rolodex. CRM software is a front-office tool that is used by employees in the sales, customer service, and marketing departments to increase revenue by optimizing the customer experience. It is a powerful way to help manage all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and prospects. CRM systems are designed to log every interaction with both prospective and current customers across all communication channels. Sales performance management and sales incentive compensation can also be included in this software. Used correctly, the data set generated can create and drive complex workflows for an entire sales team and give management the ability to track employee progress in real-time.

CRM Benefits

The goal of a CRM system is to increase your business’ sales by helping reps better engage with their prospects. A cloud-based CRM gives the sales force accessible mobility while out in the field. CRM systems also provide a way to integrate the sales, service, and marketing departments. Data-driven sales strategies can inform appropriate marketing campaigns. Customer response to marketing can, in turn, provide further actionable data for the sales workflow. Creating a full digital view of every customer can help with lead tracking, customer follow-up, tracking customer behavior, and providing client support. A data-driven business culture facilitated by a CRM and marketing automation system can provide both better customer service and increased revenue. (SalesChain corporate website)

What is an ERP System?

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems contain tools that integrate both front and back-office functions. The software contains modules for multiple different business processes, such as finance (including the general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and financial reporting), HR, inventory management, order management, supply chain management, and distribution (including procurement, production, and fulfillment). By integrating these processes, the goal is to streamline operations and centralize information. Often these systems are customizable or configurable.

ERP Benefits

ERP software facilitates internal communication and data exchange. It collates data from multiple departments and provides the tools to integrate and interpret it from the perspective of various aspects of the business workflow. “The benefits of an ERP system come from having a single, shared database for all financial and operational data. This impacts reporting — both static monthly reports and ad hoc reports requested by leadership. A sole source of financial and operational data also means employees can drill down into reports to uncover financial insights without the need for IT or finance teams to conduct the analysis and reporting. This allows businesses to make faster, data-backed decisions that can impact everything from profitability to new growth opportunities to creating efficiency across the organization.”

Case Study: Delivery Workflow Automation

In this video testimonial, Crystal Manning talks about how SalesChain’s delivery workflow management tools cut KDI’s DSO in half.

What is the Difference?

The fundamental difference between ERP and CRM systems is the focus of the tool. CRM is a front-office tool and ERP incorporates both front and back-office functions. ERP is primarily for financial data and the finance department, while CRM is customer data used by the sales and customer service departments. ERP focuses on the enterprise itself and is concerned with reducing operational costs. CRM focuses on the customer and is concerned with increasing sales.

While ERP systems may include a CRM component, CRM software systems do not include ERP components. For example, SalesChain is not an ERP system because it does not manage transactional data. It may access order history or invoices, but that data is imported through an integration with the ERP system.

Sophisticated or industry-specific CRM tools might allow for ERP data to be viewed within the CRM to give front-of-house employees a more complete picture of their client base. SalesChain, for example, boasts integrations to major ERP systems within our industry of office technology to let sales reps access the asset, contract, and lease information and use it to their benefit.

What are the Similarities?

ERP and CRM systems are both enterprise business software tools that store and analyze data in a relational database. Customers can purchase these tools as either a traditional on-premises model or through software as a service (SaaS), where the vendor manages the software in its own data center and customers access it through the cloud. Both tools store essential business data from multiple departments in one central repository and both focus on revenue generation, automation, and increased efficiency and productivity through the reduction of error inherent in human data entry and manipulation.

Does My Business Need Both?

In a word – YES! All companies, from small and midsize businesses to enterprises, should seriously consider implementing both an ERP and a CRM system — or a single platform for both. Companies running their financials on entry-level accounting tools like QuickBooks or even spreadsheets often turn to an ERP system when they find those systems are holding back their growth, are inefficient or they simply need something more robust. The same is true for businesses managing their customer relationships in individual sales reps’ email clients, spreadsheets, or contact management systems. Collating and centralizing sales data in a cloud-based and easily accessible format provides vital ease of use, efficiency, and accountability. Whether a company first invests in CRM or ERP will depend on its business model.

Adopt a Solution that Unifies CRM and ERP

Although SalesChain is much more than a CRM system, customer relationship management is the core of our sales functionality. SalesChain’s CRM system is capable of scaling to meet the needs of any organization. Large dealers with multiple locations can view hundreds of thousands of account records across multiple territories just as easily as a down-the-street rep can enter information on local prospects.

However, SalesChain offers much more than this powerful CRM solution. Our platform unifies both CRM and ERP functions within the same system, aided by powerful integrations to industry-leading tools, such as Microsoft Outlook 365, ECI e-Automate, HubSpot, and more. A unified solution precludes the need for employees to learn, manage and manually collect data from disparate software systems. SalesChain software combines CRM, business intelligence charting, document generation, and delivery management all into one, easy-to-use solution. It automatically centralizes data streams from sales, customer service, and marketing and makes them easily accessible in a highly visible format through customizable dashboards. Managers, sales representatives, customer service personnel, and the marketing team are all on the same page because all aspects of the sales process are accessible to the entire workforce.

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

5 Ways to Connect Your Sales and Back Office Teams

Your organization is no doubt made up of valuable employees with many different skill sets, uniquely suited to performing in their niche of the company. How do you sync the many moving parts that make up your production: from sales to marketing to back-office functions to fulfillment?

It is no secret that to increase efficiency between departments, managers must seek to optimize the speed and accuracy of business workflow systems. The cumulative effects of minor changes can be synergistic and thus highly valuable to both company morale and the bottom line!

The SalesChain platform offers one system to streamline the workflow between teams, both reducing errors inherent in manual data entry and increasing revenue. Here are five ways that SalesChain connects your sales and back-office teams.

1) Implement an e-Sign Workflow

Upgrading to the electronic signature technology is one way for your business to expedite closing deals. Customers do not have to wait to arrange face-to-face meetings, and documents can be processed electronically much more quickly.

Many of your customers will finance their purchases through leasing companies, and e-signatures are legally accepted by all the major leasing companies.  SalesChain is the only vendor in the business technology field that incorporates secure, approved, e-sign capability right into the software suite.

Our Lease Portfolio Management utility is integrated into the deal pricing module, and we have direct integrations with many major leasing companies, like Great America and DLL.

2) Automate Your Delivery Workflow

The more automated your business delivery workflow is between departments, the more efficient your process can be. However, each of your business offerings is unique, and this is reflected in the customized workflows that best serve the needs of your fulfillment process. For example, fulfilling a small order for two individual copiers would involve different steps than providing IT services for a large law firm. Different strategies must be optimized and employed for different clients.

By default, the SalesChain Platinum system is configured with a standard set of notifications and generated tasks to keep your office running smoothly and efficiently. To take full advantage of the system, SalesChain allows you to set up a configuration of notifications and tasks generated based upon the unique workflow of your organization.

Case Study: Delivery Workflow Automation

In this video testimonial, Crystal Manning talks about how SalesChain’s delivery workflow management tools cut KDI’s DSO in half.

3) Adopt a Cloud-Based Business Management System

Cumbersome and expensive data management systems based on hard copy files and company file servers are quickly being replaced by cloud-based management systems. The SalesChain software platform can empower your digital and remote workforce with a single, cloud-based data repository that is also available on any mobile device.

Since all employees contribute to the same data repository, your business maintains an accurate and collaborative database.  Duplicate information is detected and eliminated, and information populated at various stages in the order process can be referenced all in one place. More accurate data is generated, leading to higher quality reporting.

Timely and accurate reporting is a valuable way to link sales, back-office, and management teams. Sales representatives can reference their activity reports in the field. Your entire team can reference the Machines in Field desk and the e-Automate book of business to glean insight into customer use cases through meter read information.  Management can reference user action counts and lead information to get a sense of how the sales department is doing in comparison to quotas. All this information can be used to tailor employee reviews, set realistic and functional goals, and provide employee incentives, all of which will promote team cohesiveness.

4) Automate your CPC Service Pricing

Optimizing deals can involve time-consuming negotiations between sales representatives, managers, and clients. SalesChain’s Service Pricing Module allows dealers to publish CPC rates and provides sales reps with intelligent and flexible tools for pricing blended service in minutes. They may easily tailor service rates on a deal-to-deal basis. The system configuration parameters allow administrators to lock reps into a series of specified “tiers” of pricing and can even allow reps to “buy down” service rates, donating a portion of their commission to lower the price of the deal in tight pricing situations, such as when they are pricing against a competitor. Integrated bid desk pricing workflows simplify and track secure pricing. Service pricing achievement is clearly measured within the dashboarding tools. This encourages ongoing evaluation of successful pricing strategies by the whole team.

5) Bi-Directional Integration to e-Automate

A significant amount of time and energy, for both the sales and back-office teams, is taken up by keeping track of client data.  The SalesChain platform streamlines this portion of company workflow with a bi-directional integration to e-Automate. This ensures consistency through your sales orders with active synchronization between e-Automate orders and SalesChain in real-time. All changes are tracked live to the other system nightly.

SalesChain Can Help

When you implement the SalesChain platform, you not only increase your company’s efficiency but also generate more data, leading to more complete and accurate reports. When data is complete and accurate, it becomes actionable. It allows your teams to work together to make data-driven decisions and take your company forward confidently in a direction supported by fact.

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.

5 Major Benefits of Business Automation

Why is Business Automation Important?

Automating your business is no longer a nicety. With modern demands and expectations, it’s becoming a necessity. Given the right tools and the right help, automating your business technology dealership can be surprisingly easy. What’s more, automating workflow steps within your business for presales, sales, documentation, and fulfillment can help you reap major benefits.

Understanding these benefits, choosing the right tools, and preparing for change management will help you develop a good strategy for an operations automation project.

1) Reducing Operational Costs

Whether your business is in imaging, IT, managed services, or some combination of these offerings, businesses across the channel are facing pressure to increase their profitability. Reducing operational costs is one very effective way of increasing your margin; but how do you do so without negatively impacting your capabilities or productivity?

Automation software works to facilitate an intelligent approach to cost containment and reduction by increasing the productivity of your existing resources. Purpose-built automation software represents the greatest opportunity to increase service to the customer (end-user) while systematically reducing costs.

Since any software is an investment at face value, management often overlooks the potential for savings in time, along with savings related to error reduction. Yet, cost reduction is frequently cited as the number one benefit of adopting a more automated workflow strategy.

2) Increasing Productivity

As the demands on your dealership grow, productivity becomes a bigger benefit of the adoption of an automated workflow process. In the information age, the expectation for instant gratification has affected the way customers behave in all relationships, especially those that concern their business technology. Automating your sales team and operations staff can help your team be more productive so that they can work more efficiently and give your customers the attention they deserve at the speeds they expect.

Automation is a critical component in increasing the efficiency and productivity of your dealership. Therefore, adopting a tool that connects members of your staff across different departments is catalytic to a complete and comprehensive business automation plan.

At SalesChain, for example, our onboarding team helps our customers create workflows for sales and fulfillment, to keep teams focused on their next steps. With integrations to ECI e-Automate, ConnectWise, and CEO Juice, our system passes information between systems automatically to minimize the need for duplicate data entry. We can also help customers feel included by sending them notifications when documents are signed (including a copy for their records), when equipment is ordered or built, and when delivery is scheduled.

Case Study: Delivery Workflow Automation

In this video testimonial, Crystal Manning talks about how SalesChain’s delivery workflow management tools cut KDI’s DSO in half.

3) Increasing Reliability

Productivity is an obvious benefit of automation. But reliability in your processes and services can make or break your relationship with a client and is a significant benefit of business automation. Reliability is the cornerstone of any good business technology operations department and without it, you have confusion, chaos, and unhappy users.

Automated workflows ensure that data which is passed from sales to operations is complete, accurate, and timely. Clearly defined workflows ensure that jobs are assigned in order and not hung up on one person’s desk. Data on these workflow steps can help detect bottlenecks and drive action by allocating additional resources or assigning additional tasks.

Software products can handle complex tasks dynamically and intelligently, based on predefined parameters. Yet, critical company functions such as assigning jobs, processing paperwork, and ensuring communications, are still often performed by entry-level individuals at office technology dealerships. The benefit of an automated system is that these functions are reliably executed by the automation software, relieving personnel from hours of tedious, boring, and manual tasks, and removing the human element from precise data entry.

4) Gathering More Data

If you can automate more processes in multiple departments within your business using one system or software suite, it means you can collect and analyze more data easily. Since SalesChain serves as a repository of information for your forecasting, sales, MIF, lease portfolio, achievement, fulfillment, and order information, we can present data to you in easy-to-understand reports and charts which give you a clear view of your business.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, famously quotes/said? (Is this his direct quote or is he quoting someone else? I had the same question on the BI handout): “You can’t fix what you don’t measure, so you’ve got to measure everything.” SalesChain’s business intelligence utility was built with this principle in mind.

One of the most challenging things to achieve with a dashboarding tool is complete, accurate data, especially if that tool is not integrated directly into the source of the data which it serves to view. SalesChain has a unique advantage when it comes to data accuracy since sales rep activity, leasing activity, service activity, and more are all being logged in our system already. Since we have the data, we can very easily add it directly to your charting tools. This means no cross-pollination or manual entry across disparate systems, eliminating potential points of error.

5) Optimizing Performance

Every dealership would like to operate with the efficiency of an enterprise-level organization. If your dealership has limited time or resources, it can be difficult to achieve these efficiencies without the right tools. Frankly, you could be the biggest mega-dealer out there and still have operational woes if your automation tools are not connected to each other completely and accurately.

What we want to emphasize is that it’s possible to improve your organization’s performance with the resources you have now by empowering employees with the right tools. Once you have the right tool setup in a way that works for you, the performance of your business can increase substantially.

Ready to Streamline Your Business?

Use the link below to schedule a discovery call for a demonstration of the SalesChain system. One of our representatives would be happy to assist you, answer your questions and see if SalesChain is the right partner to help you grow your business.