Struggling With Two Systems for Copiers and IT?

Expanding Your Product Offerings?

You’re not alone. With the changing office environment, many copier dealerships have expanded to provide additional product offerings.  SalesChain recognizes that office technology is a dynamic industry that is evolving quickly.  In the last 20 years, print has evolved into a hybrid model of analog copies and digital documents. We’ve seen people moving into a lot of areas, but IT products and services are among the most common since it is a natural pivot for dealers.  New products in the IT realm are coming daily and older products are becoming obsolete. In a recent podcast appearance, Tim Szczygiel, CEO of SalesChain, stresses that dealers must stay relevant and adapt to new products, recognizing the “integrated nature” of the industry.

Separate Software is a Struggle

Our technology-enabled world is no longer simply impressed by big data, it expects big data. Nothing is more frustrating than when that information is spread across different systems and spreadsheets, giving you an incomplete picture of your business.

  • It’s frustrating – when you are looking for something and can’t remember where it is. Time is money, so when your employees are forced to sift through multiple software databases to gather the information they need, your company is losing money.
  • It’s inaccurate – leading to embarrassing errors or misinformation. Disparate systems may not mesh accurately, leading to time spent hand-checking for errors in integration. Dealers may experience a higher churn rate when their customers are unimpressed with delays and processing errors.
  • It’s time-consuming – managing spreadsheets or data in multiple places takes a lot of your time. When sales representatives are spending their time hand-checking paperwork, they aren’t out there discovering new prospects!

One System for Dealers in Imaging and IT.

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

SalesChain Is the One Solution for Your Copier and IT Businesses

The key difference is that SalesChain is a comprehensive platform.  We work to maximize the value of our product by being one system that solves many of a dealer’s complex financial and operational issues, in addition to providing powerful tools for sales representatives.

SalesChain is proud to announce a new integration to ConnectWise, which expands upon and strengthens the existing integration to e-Automate and eliminates the need for duplicate data entry.  Within the SalesChain platform, dealers can easily synchronize customer records across e-Automate, ConnectWise, and the SalesChain CRM when they close a deal.  That record is automatically checked for validity and de-duplicated.

Pricing Tools for Copiers and IT

SalesChain’s Catalogs Made Easy utility includes machine hardware and IT products and services for a comprehensive, organized, and custom catalog of everything your company sells.   Having all this data in one place and accessible with a few clicks saves your sales staff valuable time.  It also makes cross-selling of the IT products and services along with the print deals they are proposing simple, since adding IT services is an integrated part of our order pricing tool. To facilitate this SalesChain has integrations with Ingram Micro and TD Synnex.

Pricing hardware and IT services on a single proposal is an essential component to the fluidity of sales team management.  Individual sales representatives have built-in autonomy when they are on the road to create, price, and document sales proposals quickly and easily. They can create loyal IT customers out of their existing print base with SalesChain’s dedicated IT pricing tool. They can also import and easily manage the product catalog and list of services for easy reference right inside of SalesChain’s order breakdown.

The sales management team can support the sales force with SalesChain’s powerful Scenario Pricing tool.  This allows them to easily address difficult pricing situations by targeting a specific value within the deal pricing calculator.  Management also has access to comprehensive business intelligence and forecasting tools. These provide clear data on how IT products and services sales stack up against MFP and Copier service sales monetarily and can help make the transition into IT and the cross-selling process more efficient.

One System, One Solution

Simply put, the SalesChain business platform provides more utilities for less money, with powerful integrations that save your company money and eliminate frustrating and time-consuming glitches between disparate software systems.  Connecting all parts of your team, from sales to back-office to management, facilitates seamless and timely communication and processing of customer orders.  Automating all aspects of your business portfolio and product catalog with well-designed workflows allows you to move into the future well-positioned to expand into new technology and remain relevant in the industry.

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.

Maximize Your Investment with These 5 SalesChain Tools

SAAS Is All About Value

SalesChain aims to maximize our value within the dealer channel as one system, one solution that can empower everyone in your business. The equation is simple – more tools for less money means more value. In addition to providing powerful tools for salespeople, we offer solutions to many of the complex financial and operational problems that dealers face. When everyone in your business uses the same system to gather data, your whole business can be automated much more effectively. All of this for one low price.

With all the tools we’ve created, sometimes we forget to, or simply don’t have time to talk about all of them! Today, we wanted to present five tools within our system that you may not be familiar with, but that can offer significant benefits for your operational efficiency.

1) Unlimited e-Sign Built in

Your customers value time and will prioritize a system that features ease of use and efficiency.  SalesChain’s is the only vendor in our class to offer secure and unlimited e-Sign document capability that is built right into our product.

Since most customers will finance their deals with leasing companies, electronic signatures are an attractive addition, leading to expedited paperwork processing and fewer human errors between sales representatives and the back office. Obtaining electronic signatures will cut the time it takes to close deals, whether a customer signs on the spot using a tablet or iPad or reviews and signs a locked document package sent via email.  In fact, we were able to help our customers cut their days shipped outstanding (DSO) by 50%.

Workflow notifications triggered by this signature process can be sent to the signer, the sales representative, and any other desired operational staff.

2) Custom Service Pricing Tools

Every deal and every customer is unique.  Having the ability to customize the details of a contract can help to optimize your sales.  The SalesChain platform includes robust pricing tools that give sales representatives the flexibility to quickly generate multiple contract options integrating a variety of service pricing scenarios.

Our tool can calculate the cost of service with intelligent cost per copy (CPC) pricing, either for individual machines or for a hardware bundle. Users can configure different service rates at different pricing tiers and buy down the cost of service to win profitable hardware deals.  Users can easily add zero-cost service items.  Hardware and service costs can be integrated into a single proposal to present to a client, making it easier for them to see their options and less likely that they will refuse a deal because they are reluctant to sort through complicated numbers and choices.

3) Mobile Catalog Lookup

SalesChain’s “Catalogs Made Easy” tool provides each dealer with a comprehensive and complete catalog of the products they sell, including hardware and IT products and services.  This by itself saves sales representatives many hours of manual research, sifting through online databases and manufacturer catalogs.

SalesChain has been managing catalogs for almost two dozen manufacturers for years, so we have a complete dataset of historical machines and have developed a robust system that helps us keep up with new updates, catalog items, and pricing changes.

In addition to these print manufacturers, SalesChain has expanded our offerings in 2022 to include IT product catalogs including TechData Synnex, Supplies Network, and Ingram-Micro.

Add to this a mobile application lookup function and sales representatives have access to their entire catalog wherever they go!  Data such as machine speed, pricing, and associated accessories are viewable with a few clicks, providing details that will expedite sales to customers without costly and time-consuming back-and-forth negotiations or trips back to the office.

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.

4) Coming Soon: TCO Made Easy

SalesChain has developed a new TCO analysis and MPS proposal pricing tool called “TCO Made Easy”.  This tool is being tested and will be available soon. It allows dealers to conduct Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analyses of machines that they are proposing to their customers for MPS service using real catalog data. Sales representatives can include accurate TCO analyses in the SalesChain proposal and order pricing suite through a new Managed Print Services (MPS) proposal screen.  Customers are more willing to purchase when they understand the total cost of ownership and operation of a machine.

5) Lease Renewal Workflow Notifications

When visiting a large dealership recently, members of the SalesChain team were shocked to hear that 14% of their leases were simply disappearing — Expiring without ever getting followed up on.

Workflow automation is carefully integrated within the SalesChain software suite.  This is vital to maintaining efficiency and optimizing sales opportunities. An important part of this workflow automation process is in lease portfolio management. If lease renewals are not being carefully followed up on, dealers can easily lose deals that should be easy, no-hassle upgrades.

SalesChain helps sales representatives mitigate this potential. Users can view the Lease Desk within SalesChain to access a comprehensive, searchable, and interactive table of lease contract information. The Advanced Search feature lets sales representatives search for specific parameters within this portfolio, for example, leases that will expire within the next 6 months but haven’t had any action taken on them in the last 80 days.

To be sure that users are on top of this, our workflow system can include timed emails to the assigned sales representative, automatic lead creation that will appear in the forecasting screens, follow-up notifications to sales representatives at 24, 18, 12, and 6 months before a lease expires, and manager notifications if follow-ups are past due. These notifications are fully customizable at the dealer level as well.

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.

Is Your Software Spend Too High?

Have you ever actually taken the time to consider how many different software products your business is paying for?

It’s commonplace to hear talk of canceling personal subscriptions like Netflix or Audible if you don’t use them as much as you hoped; But, auditing the software products you are paying for as a business seems less ordinary.

According to Flexera’s 2022 State of ITAM report, nearly 1/3 of a company’s SAAS spend goes to waste. Value in software is at the axis of two fundamental characteristics: cost and functionality. As you consider how to get the most value out of your business’ SAAS spend, you should consider these two

Functionality: Better Tools = More Value

The equation of functionality is simple, better tools mean more value. There are many variables that contribute to what makes software inherently better, but this is the basic formula.

For a software solution to be functional, it must provide complete and accurate data, be easy to use, and be robust. For a software tool to be phenomenal, it must be mobile, expandable, and understandable. In the world of software for business enablement, it must also help your business to grow.

Tools that are purpose-built for the industry that you’re working in also have an upper hand since developers can focus on the details that are important to your vertical.

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.

Cost: More Tools = More Value

The equation of cost is simple, more tools for less money means more value.

Considering that the digital transformation has been accelerated by the rise of the hybrid office. how do you get more value out of your SAAS Spend? Consolidate – use less tools with greater value and make sure you focus on user adoption and training.

We are all used to the trade-off between quality and cost, perhaps most fondly through the adage “You get what you pay for.” Many software providers are offering bundled solutions representing a collection of their offerings. The best solution for your business might be to seek a provider who offers the most solutions for your business in a single package.

Get Your Money’s Worth

Quality software is well worth the cost when the software solves problems, integrates with other systems, and even predicts the future. Powerful software solutions can convert your company’s workarounds into workflows that may help to save time, money, or both. Reducing human error, increasing efficiency, and consolidating tasks are all benefits of a well-designed software platform.

A system that integrates with your business processes to help you reach your goals and enables you to analyze real-time data can help your business become significantly more profitable.

SalesChain works to maximize our value within the dealer channel as one system, one solution which offers solutions to many of a dealer’s complex problems. Schedule a demo to see how.

This article was written by Matthew Szczygiel

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.

How has the Print Industry Changed in The Last 20 Years?

As SalesChain celebrates our 20th year in business, we are spending a lot of time thinking about how we got here. Like many businesses, we do a lot of planning, and in order to address the question, “How will the print industry evolve in the near future?”, it is helpful to first take a historic look back and track technological developments. We feel that a clear picture of how the industry successfully met the needs of an ever-advancing global culture in the past can help us shape the way we will address modern challenges and changes.

Print has been an essential part of our everyday life for millennia.  In many ways, the development of print media has mirrored first the mechanization and then industrialization of commerce, and finally the advent of the digital age.  In the last 20 years, print has evolved into a hybrid model of analog copies and digital documents. With this modern shift came an increase in revenue for the industry and consolidation, both in terms of acquisitions by larger providers and a resulting reduction in the number of jobs.

Printing is Part of Our History (Ancient times to the early 90’s)

Mankind’s desire to communicate in written form has driven the development of print technology since the first records, which have been dated to around 3000 BC.  One of the first documented printing methods was woodblock printing, developed in ancient China and widely used until Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 15h century.   The introduction of a dry photocopying technique in the 1940’s was quickly followed in the early 1950’s by the first inkjet printer, which recreated a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto materials.

Many baby boomers will have fond memories of the unique solvent smell of fresh mimeographed copies, used widely to make inexpensive and quick copies of worksheets for school children.  These machines are now worthy of the Smithsonian! By the 1970’s, major copy machine manufacturers were selling inkjet printers capable of reproducing digital computer images. In 1990, the Xerox DocuTech production publishing system launched.  It allowed paper documents to be scanned, electronically edited, and then printed on demand.

The Last 20 Years (and Current Technologies)

Since the turn of the 21st century, the printing industry has taken a quantum leap forward.  Digital printing technology matured in the early 2000s and gradually started to replace other printing techniques. Scanning was an important part of this digital revolution, making it possible to electronically store information for future editing and printing.  There was an important transition from the traditional Xerox machine of the ’90s and early 2000s to an emphasis on IT services and digital documents today. One of the necessary intermediate steps moving into this hybrid solution was the technology that allows access to digitally managed documents and on-demand services.  Other current technologies include 3D printing systems and systems that utilize artificial intelligence.

Monetarily speaking, the industry has seen consolidation while also experiencing a rise in profits. During the first quarter of 2018, the printing industry witnessed a growth rate of 2.3%. Even though most consumers consult online sources for goods and services, cross-media and multi-channel marketing, which utilize print resources, are an important way to connect consumers with online company websites.  “Around 64% of manufacturing firms believe that printers will play an effective role in their operations till 2025.”

SalesChain Case Study

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

SalesChain Over 20 Years

Here at SalesChain, we have evolved along with the print technology industry that we serve.  The company was founded in 2002 to deliver a lease portfolio management tool to help dealers track leased assets.  We’ve expanded our value proposition to include support for the entire office equipment enterprise including proposal pricing, documentation, order fulfillment workflow, service pricing, commissions, delivery workflow automation, and document management. Along with our expanded functionality, we’ve developed integrations with some of the industry’s most respected software providers.

What’s Next?

Will there ever be a transition from a machine that is managing and printing digital documents into fully digital documents? It’s hard to give a definitive answer, but it won’t be any time soon. There are lots of needs for print that are not going away, such as direct marketing campaigns, product packaging, and printed mailing labels and receipts.  However, the continued link to digital documents (the aforementioned hybrid environment) is going to be essential.

In an article by Radixweb.com, the authors predict that companies will branch out and provide value-added services, such as variable options for data collection, electronic order processing, production printing in large e-Commerce centers, and diversification into products and service offerings beyond the traditional print company realm. Printing will continue to have an essential role in commerce, but it will evolve along with future technology, as it has done in the past.

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 Lessons We’ve Learned in 20 Years of Business

1) Collaboration is Key

According to CIO, “The future of collaboration software is all about integration, not consolidation.” In the past few years, we have really come to understand the importance of integration and collaboration.  Our customers’ top priority is a relevant dataset.  We have come to understand that our product must provide seamless integration with industry-leading software partners and are making commitments towards this goal. The CRM database is no longer entirely about how much time is spent generating information within the platform itself, rather, it is about how much data the company can collect inside of the CRM.

As we continue to learn and grow in 2022, integration to more industry partners is going to be a major focus of our development team. Software users do not have the luxury of spending time entering information into two different products. We have been integrating with leasing partners and ERP systems to enhance our technical dataset for years. In fact, SalesChain boasts the industry-standard e-Automate integration and API integrations to leasing partners, including DLL. In 2022, that focus will continue through the lens of marketing automation and CRM data augmentation.

SaaS product platforms will create a promising industry future for businesses willing to embrace collaboration and work towards a unified and communicative dataset. We understand that businesses want specialized tools from different vendors (see Don’t Try to Do Everything, below) and we’re excited to be a part of this trend.

2) Hire Good People and Delegate

When you start a new business, you have a vision of what it’s going to look like and how things are going to run. It can be hard to relinquish control of little things and delegate as you grow and hire additional staff members. SalesChain has not been immune to this phenomenon.

Our staff has increased in size since 2019, and with that change comes a shift in responsibilities. As we grow, so does the degree of specialization within our staff and the need to delegate. While this has been a difficult adjustment at times, we know that it’s good for our employees, our business, and our customers.

This article from AMA, provides a list of the 7 keys to effective delegation.  One that stands out as one of the most challenging, in our experience, is #3: “Delegate the whole task.” It can be tempting to jump in and finish someone’s work. Especially when you see that they are utilizing a different approach than you would employ — even one that you are not innately comfortable with. But part of delegation is accepting the fact that everyone works in a different way and communicates in a different way.

Because of this difference, it is unreasonable to assume that they would be doing the task exactly as you would. Moreover, when they have just started a task, it is unlikely that they will perform it perfectly or without missing a beat on the first try. That is where #6: “Leave the person alone,” takes effect. Stepping back and giving new hires some space to operate and some time to stumble and ask questions when they are ready has been crucial for us.

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) Listen to the Customer

Over the years we have relied on our customers to tell us what tools they need us to build into our software to get their jobs done more efficiently and effectively. As we continue to improve our product and make it more robust for an ever-more-demanding software marketplace, we will continue to rely on our customers to help guide the direction of our development efforts. Inevitably, a tool that we build that helps one customer succeed will likely help many others.

As Qminder says, “A happy customer is more than a satisfied customer – it’s a retained customer.” A satisfied customer will sing your praises and be your best advocate, while a dissatisfied customer will explore, and potentially advocate on behalf of, your competitors.

As we grow and evolve in the new year, we will be relying more and more on our customers to help us chart a course for what is most important to our collective future. While we often work with the loud minority, we will intentionally solicit the input of the silent majority this year to see where we can make our most impactful improvements. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that everyone has something of value to contribute, whether they have taken the time to express it or not.

4) Customer Service Stands Out

We have been reviewing a lot of trend reports and predictions about where software products and services are headed in 2022. A constant theme, including in this Forbes article, is that software providers will be relying more and more on AI to aid support ventures and provide better customer service.  They will become less dependent on the automated phone systems they’ve been utilizing. What we can’t help but wonder is, what happened to someone on the other end of the phone? Why has the call center moved from the front line of customer support to the last resort?

Rhetorical questions aside, we’re committed to continuing to offer our US-based help desk as the first support resource for our customers. We’ve always provided a help desk that gives users access to real people via phone or email who can help them solve their problems. While AI and automated systems may be critical for extremely large organizations with lots of customers to satisfy, we’ve learned that going the extra mile for service stands out.

5) Don’t Try to Do Everything

Here at SalesChain, we market ourselves as the complete business automation solution for office equipment dealers, and we do have a lot of different features.  But we’ve learned over time where to draw the line. We have never tried to be the do-it-all marketing tool. We have never wanted to be an ERP system. Our sole focus is on providing a purpose-built CRM and deal pricing tool for the office technology industry which helps your sales team and back-office work seamlessly together.

At the time of SalesChain’s founding in 2002, the focus of many software providers was to be the do-it-all tool. It is as if software providers had adopted the Walt Disney model of making more money if the guests never leave your campus. Now, many providers are realizing that businesses want specialized tools purpose-built for specific functions. Tools that are trying to do everything are not as popular or profitable since they are harder to market and maintain. It is better to do one thing well, being proactive in one’s approach to both employees and to customer collaboration and service.

These lessons will help shape SalesChain’s foundational goals moving forward into the next 20 years!

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.

Year in Review: Three Notable Achievements from 2021

Three Notable Achievements

1: SalesChain Has Best Year In Company History In 2021

End of the year corporate analysis has revealed that SalesChain has experienced its largest growth in company history. The addition of over a dozen new customers and many new employees energized sales in a year where business was pivoting to function differently. With more users working remotely and the print industry shifting from print services to IT services and document management systems, SalesChain was able to provide a comprehensive product that served the technology industry well.

Read More

2: SalesChain Named Among CIO Applications Top 10 Workflow Automation Platforms

The October 2021 edition of CIO magazine featured an interview with SalesChain discussing our business workflow automation platform. Our goal of helping dealers achieve greater organization through superior automation and better data was formally recognized by the organization with a top 10 award for 2021.

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3: CEO Tim Szczygiel Featured on Building to Scale Podcast

In July, SalesChain CEO Timothy Szczygiel was the guest speaker on a podcast produced by Admentus Inc. Called “Building to Scale.” During a discussion about scaling an enterprise business in the current environment, he said, “managing data is absolutely critical to business in 2021. Every business in every industry is going virtual to some degree, and virtual-only works when information is complete, accurate, and correct.”  We are proud that our continued development efforts at SalesChain have created a scalable platform for our users, providing a continuous data stream that is reliable and actionable.

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A Holiday Message From SalesChain CEO Tim Szczygiel

SalesChain CEO Tim Szczygiel shares his holiday wishes as we begin the holiday season and approach the end of 2021

Three New Features

1: SalesChain and DLL Announce Real-Time Credit Processing API

SalesChain understands the utilization of financial services is critical to the office equipment industry. With this integration, Saleschain will now be able to deliver real-time credit processing and decisioning to the dealership on nearly 86% of deals, * avoiding timely delays and manual data entry.

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2: SalesChain Adds New Real-Time Inventory Management Tool

This new forecasting feature allows the user to select any number of filtering criteria, including period of time, stage of the deal, or branch before viewing the real-time inventory of all products related to the primary proposal or the order that is associated with the opportunity. This feature will significantly reduce the guessing of what should be purchased and improve purchasing discounts.  It will also reduce delivery times by allowing purchasing managers to preemptively stock equipment.

Read More

3: SalesChain Introduces Build Your Own Dashboards

The goal of SalesChain’s business intelligence tool is to provide our users with a wealth of information about their business in an easy-to-understand format. So that you can see exactly the information that’s most relevant to you, we included a feature to our Business Intelligence platform that allows every user in the system to create custom dashboards!

Read More

Forward Unto 2022

We are looking forward to continuing to grow and offering better solutions for the industry in 2022.  We are thankful for our dealer partners who have provided us with suggestions for improving and expanding our platform.  We are also energized by the challenges of changing with a quickly evolving office technology industry.

Written By: Mary Ellen Hogan. Linked Content by Matthew Szczygiel and Mary Ellen Hogan

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.

How Do You Build a Company or a Product for an Industry That Does Not Exist Yet?

In 2022, SalesChain will celebrate its 20th anniversary as a company. When reflecting on our history and growth, SalesChain has weathered some momentous changes in the office technology sector. Perhaps none of these changes rival the ones that the industry is experiencing right now, driven both by a global pandemic and the lightning speed of technological developments.

But SalesChain is no stranger to changing tides. We have continually expanded our software product with new tools to meet the needs of our customers. We realize that to remain viable, this openness to growth and change must continue. At some point, reliance on traditional photocopy machines will go away. This may seem alarming to a business whose focus is on selling and servicing these items, but it happens to all industries. Like the steam engines that were displaced by the more technologically advanced diesel engines, print media is giving way to electronic data transmission.

The question then becomes, how do you serve the industry, both now and in the future? Office technology dealers must maintain their revenue streams from mainframe machines and accessories while keeping an eye on the future of managed print services, document management services, IT products and services, and others that have not even been developed yet. What will the evolution of these cloud-based services look like? How can businesses expand into products based on the desire for these services?

In other words, how do you build a company for an industry that does not yet exist?

Educators face an analogous question as they train the future employees of this industry. How do you train a student for a career that does not yet exist? The short answer is: You train them to be creative and critical thinkers. These are the most important skills to transpose into the business world of tomorrow. As more baby boomers retire, the incoming generation of employees will be comfortable with cloud computing and will actually prefer it. They will be better prepared to fit into a work environment that does not fully exist yet.

Be Proactive Not Reactive

The employees of the office technology sector will need to quickly learn to balance the managing of current technologies with planning, product development, and marketing for the future. Here are some key things to consider ensuring that your business is being proactive, not reactive, to the changes in the industry.

  • Marketing, especially online, is vital. You need to communicate your conviction and your passion for your product through your branding. Blogging and content marketing online will become increasingly important to get your brand out there.
  • Since customers have a pulse on the future of their business, you should be quick to collaborate with and listen to them. If you interact with your customers early in the development process and listen to their constructive feedback, the result will be a better insight into their needs. Listening to customers can help you determine the best collection of products now that will help you grow with them. We do the same thing when deciding whether SalesChain customers need to customize their system, or simply configure it.
  • Understand your client’s pain points in growth and offer a solution for them. Your product development efforts will be most effective if they are perceived as immediately solving the most irritating client challenge. Develop a clear understanding of what the problem is and you can develop a few features that really matter.
  • Do not be afraid to pivot midstream. Harvard Business Review states that “customers’ preferences can also shift abruptly during a development project, as competitors introduce new offerings and contemporary trends emerge.” (Reference #2) Also, “product development work is highly perishable: Assumptions about technologies and the market can quickly become obsolete. The slower a project progresses, the greater the likelihood it will have to be restarted”
  • Do not take customers for granted – talk to them and thank them! Product iterations should always be developed with customer input and the understanding that development is ongoing. In essence, your product is never “finished.” You should have a growth mindset that helps your employees understand there are always new things to discover and contemporary trends to exploit.

SalesChain Case Study

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

Go With Your Gut and Root Yourself in What You Know

SalesChain has managed to grow and reach the forefront of the office technology industry by doing two things:  building on our passion and solid foundation and striving to remain relevant. We have a great history that is foundational and will take us to where we are going next. Take your company successfully into the 21st century by doing the same.

Have a clear and strong mission or vision statement that your employees are both familiar with and passionate about. Build on what you know and leverage those creative and critical thinking skills! Create an environment conducive to the generation of new insights by employees and customers alike. Finally, understand that the only constant in any business is change. Anticipate it and plan for it!

Do Your Research

Planning for change means valuing employee time spent researching what comes next. Here are some things your company can pursue to make sure you are not left behind.

  • Follow and understand the market trends and evaluate market readiness for any of the latest ideas or products you are considering.
  • Identify the traits and needs of your likely new customers. Research market precursors and look for existing research databases published by other sources.
  • Be keenly aware of the trends in the economy, which can clearly affect your customers’ ability and willingness to invest in innovative technology and products.
  • Focus on the current frustrations and limitations that your potential customers have in industries like the one you plan to move into.
  • New products should enhance customer ability with your existing machines and software. If you make your customer feel competent and efficient, they will be excited about upgrading to your new product!

Use your research to identify the gaps in your current operations.  Where are your areas of growth?  Are there weak competitors you could exploit or displace through new product development? Be visionary and think big! There may be related revenue streams as well as completely innovative technologies that you can grow into.

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.

Print Is Coming Back, But Not Like It Was Before

Talking about what life looks like in a post-pandemic world is so common now, that I think we’re all a little tired of hearing about it. It’s a tired cliché at this point. However, this transitional period hasn’t passed yet, so try as we might to avoid it, it’s important to grit our teeth, do some planning, and consider how changes will affect the office equipment and technology channel.

As we get more information and patterns and trends get analyzed, it seems that changes are inevitable but still unpredictable. Definitively saying that the office technology industry is going one way or another is about as sure as placing a bet on your favorite NCAA bowl game.

Some employees’ return to working in the office rather than working remotely will re-invigorate the need for print to an extent, but also the changes we are seeing in the print environment (a change from A3 to A4 devices and more need for network services) are going to persist and grow.

What we can say for sure (of any transitional phase) is that flexibility will be the key to successful business practices in 2022, even beyond. The evolution of technology is the one constant and businesses must change with the times to remain viable.

Jay McBain, principal analyst at Forrester, states that over 76% of global CEOs think the current business models won’t exist in five years! (Reference #4) Successful new business models will be ones that leverage the power of the internet and “real-time” commerce to harness a connected marketplace.

Post-Pandemic Flexibility

The pandemic catalyzed issues that were already becoming apparent in the office equipment industry. E-commerce and desktop printing had already been working to reduce the need for the local copy guy and his A3 fleet. What’s more, the need for print and copy had been declining due to the rise of digital documentation already.

When the lockdown began in early 2020, these challenges were only exacerbated by declining clicks due to the decentralization of the workforce and subsequent supply chain issues, including paper and the microchip shortage. Dealers that were focused solely on copy and print services, or CPC service pricing, were strained and in some cases, struggled to survive.

The question isn’t if or when, but how.

Growth Comes from Adversity

We want to emphasize that this issue is not all doom and gloom – it is simply an evolution of the industry. No doubt this can be frightening, change is always scary, but our greatest moments of growth come from our most challenging times.

Although these challenges were beyond the business’ control, they represent a powerful change force. Very little in the industry is the same as pre-pandemic. The most forward-thinking industry leaders consider this an exciting time of creative change. What will the industry look like going forward?

The first thing to consider is any company’s most important asset – its employees. People come first, so protecting office workers means that manufacturing slowed down because of Covid protocols as well as supply chain issues. The pandemic forced businesses to become “leaner”, but they proved they could be productive and profitable if the Covid retrofit was handled well. Thinking outside the traditional box even has the potential to expand profitability into new directions.

What’s Next for Print? The Demographic Shift

The current workforce is comprised of those referred to as digital immigrants versus digital natives. Baby boomer office workers are used to and more likely to rely on printers while millennials are more comfortable with remote work and a digital document workflow that doesn’t use prints or copies as much.

According to Jay McBain (reference #4), 75% of the workforce will be millennials by 2024, and Gen-Xers and baby boomers will be the minority in the workforce. Businesses will need to continue to assess the role of office space in their organization. “By the end of 2021, around 25% of small and medium organizations will change their real estate footprint by downsizing or dispensing with office space in line with hybrid workplace strategies.”  (Reference #6)

What Should Office Equipment Companies Do?

MPFs are clearly required less when everyone works from home. Click volumes on A3 machines dropped dramatically during the pandemic. How should companies respond and adapt to this trend?

First, preparedness is important. Management should have “what if” protocols in place to address unforeseen circumstances. It is also prudent to maintain a “leaner and meaner” approach. An example of this is to reduce capital expenditures for your dealer customers by adopting a “just in time” drop-ship model for the shipment of office equipment supplies (things like toner).

One trend that is already clear is the move from A3 printers to multifunction inkjet A4 devices for at-home and small office printing. However, according to IDC, investment in both A3 and A4 devices is expected to remain flat through 2022, and slowly decline from 2023 through 2025. (Reference #6) With this in mind, office equipment dealers could utilize used machinery and movements instead of selling new machines. Keypoint Intelligence states that “shortages might be the kick in the pants our industry needs to double down on finally automating workflows.” Reference #5

SalesChain’s Inventory Lookup feature is a powerful new tool to help users handle machine availability in real-time and therefore streamline workflow.

What should office equipment dealerships do? All signs point in one direction: diversify.

SalesChain Case Study

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

How to Grow and Diversify Your Dealership

Businesses should not be afraid to seize parallel opportunities. Adding product lines and services to entice customers is a way to supplement declining profits from machine and print sales.

Managed Print & Document Management Services

Many dealerships are making a natural progression into the managed print services (MPS) space. This allows an easy transitional business that can help make up for lost click volume revenue in the interim, and if done well, can help generate capital for more dramatic business moves.

Another natural progression that we have seen many of SalesChain’s most successful dealer-customers employ is the opening of document management and scanning services businesses. The major advantage of this move is that it allows dealers to capture the customer’s trust in the customer’s digital transition move. If a dealer can become an integral part of a customer’s digital transformation, they can capture their forward-moving business

IT Products and Services

Worldwide IT spending is growing, suggesting an area of growth for traditional print companies to expand into. Once a dealer becomes part of their customer’s digital experience, they can begin to move IT products and services to their base. Now their customer base knows the dealer as the office technology partner for not only print and scanning devices and service but also for IT Products and services. This is the natural evolution for dealers looking to continue being valuable technology partners to their customer base.

Think Outside the Box

There are other avenues for growth that live outside of the obvious path of office technology expansion.  Modular office furniture, water, gym equipment, vinyl flooring, and cleaning products are all commodities that may be sought by clients retrofitting offices in the face of hybrid working conditions. Customer loyalty means they are more likely to buy these related products from a company they already do business with.

Key Into Millennial Clientele

Keying into a millennial clientele that prefers internet marketplace buying is also essential.  It is not just the workforce that is changing, it is also the consumers who buy machines and print services. Cloud-based tools and services will become more and more in demand as employers offer full or part-time work-from-home options.

Companies poised to expand into these product lines will be at the forefront of future opportunities, as the office equipment channel continues to evolve. In the future, industry best practices will be defined by the ability to provide technical services to an increasing internet-based commercial sphere.

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.

Sales Proposals Are An Integral Branding Tool

SalesChain is keenly aware of the importance of substantive, branded documentation when doing business. A well-established brand can set your company apart and accelerate the number of deals you close. The more familiar your clients are with your brand, the more comfortable they will become doing business with you. This applies to all aspects of the selling process. in this blog we would like to focus on the proposal document tools that SalesChain provides to our customers. From a marketing perspective, there are many benefits to having a unified proposal which all your prospective clients will see and that all your salespeople can use.

Brand Recognition

To attract a new customer base and fuel the expansion of your company, people simply must know who you are! In our fast-paced world, potential customers have little time to do research when they need to make purchasing decisions. Strong and consistent brand recognition puts you top of mind in a crowded and competitive selling environment.

Simple yet attractive logos, memorable tag lines, and multiple exposures to branded documents, webpages and merchandise can all increase your visibility to an untapped audience.

Give Your Customer an Easier Buying Experience

Branding makes your company stand out when customers are doing research prior to purchase. It also simplifies tracking down information that is important to them and can influence the likelihood they will pursue doing business with you. Once they express interest, a business proposal is a next step to winning the sale.

What is a Proposal Document?

According to HubSpot, a business proposal is “used to sell your product or service, not the company itself.” When salespeople interact with a potential or current client, they are tasked with creating a proposal tailored to solve that client’s issue. To be thoughtful and effective, the proposal document they generate should include recognition of the problem the client is facing, as well as the details of the proposed solution and the pricing information.

Key elements of a Proposal Document

Understanding your client’s challenges well gives you the information you need to develop a targeted, attractive, and comprehensive sales proposal to present.

  • A visually attractive title page with your company logo is a key first step. This establishes your identity and sets you apart from the beginning.
  • First pages can include mission statements, corporate vision statements and policies, and/or some type of executive summary statement. This provides your client with a sense of who you are and what your core values are.
  • The “meat and potatoes” of a sales proposal includes a summary of the client’s problem and your solution. Depending on the products and/or services sold, this could include detailed pages of marketing information as well as the features and specifications that are salient to the client’s package solution.
  • Pricing terms and options should be presented on a clean, easy-to-read page. They should include potential up-sell or add-on opportunities, but not so many as to confuse the client. Too many choices result in indecision and failure to close the deal.
  • A sales proposal document may include more formal financing and signature pages as well.

SalesChain Case Study

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

Suggestions for a Terrific Proposal

To summarize, your sales proposal document should make it clear what your business does and more specifically, how you can help the client. A terrific proposal means you should STAY ON BRAND! From the color palettes to the company logo, everything found in the proposal should reflect the corporate brand, resulting in a clean, consistent proposal. Highlight what sets you apart from your competitors and why your solution is the best proposition for the client. To capture a prospective client’s attention, you must identify their pain points and provide them with the right solution to alleviate their frustrations.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO:

  • Establish your corporate brand on proposal documents right upfront, using a visually attractive title page with a compelling message.
  • Provide quantitative data showing how your business has been successful in solving client problems. This is even better if it can be in the form of charts and/or graphs.
  • Offer brief quotes from other client testimonials. This is especially effective if you have clients that are well known and trusted in the field.

DON’T:

  • Generate documents that are overly wordy, long, or visually confusing. Quality is better than quantity here!
  • Create a generic document. To capture a prospective client’s attention, you must identify their pain points and provide them with the right solution to overcome their unique challenges.

Solutions for Generating Proposals

The SalesChain proposal wizard includes a powerful deal pricing calculator and the ability to print sales proposal documents at the click of a button, in just a matter of minutes. It gives sales representatives the ability to completely customize a branded proposal for a client, with features such as selecting different lease periods, showing cash buyout values, including IT products, or integrating service costs. In addition, SalesChain is the only vendor in the business technology field with secure, approved e-sign capabilities.

 

This article was written by Mary Ellen Hogan and Matt Szczygiel.

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.

Bridging the Generational Gap

A Broad Spectrum of Users

In the digital age, it is virtually impossible to find a situation where employees are not required to have at least some basic level of computer knowledge and internet savvy to perform their jobs. Like all technology, business computing has evolved at lightning speed. What was “state of the art” last year, is outmoded this year. With each update and advance, users are required to learn new skills to effectively use the software offerings and be the most efficient and effective workers.

The current range of computer experience and knowledge among workers is at an all-time high. The millennial generation has never been without devices as an integral part of their lives. They learn coding skills in grade school. The oldest baby boomers may never have had formal computer classes in school, or at best, have had high school or college training with rudimentary and outdated computing programs and machines. (Note: This dinosaur started out in high school learning Fortran and worked on one of the first room-size mainframe computers at Yale University with the help of keypunch cards!)  Somewhere in the middle are employees with education in both more advanced computer languages (such as HTML and CAD) and coding skills.

Learning Styles and Types

In addition to the challenge of a broad range of computer experience among workers, there is the added complication of learning styles in the workforce. Managers and trainers are most effective when they understand how employees learn best and can design system training that supports those learning styles. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or composite learners will each perform differently under different training circumstances.  Companies that sell SaaS products offer training in multiple formats: online self-driven tutorials, video training modules, remote training with a moderator, live conference meetings, and one-on-one sessions with individuals. Being flexible enough to offer multiple learning modalities to train employees should create a better understanding of the software, resulting in fewer mistakes and a higher working speed.

Case Study: Keystone Digital Imaging

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

What Makes Software “User-Friendly?”

The term “user-friendly” can mean different things to different employees and is linked to their experience and comfort levels with computing. A user-friendly system to a millennial may be streamlined and highly graphic, reflecting their familiarity with computers and their prior knowledge of navigation of internet resources and software products. A user-friendly system for a baby boomer requires more detailed protocols of the basic background functions for them to successfully work through the intricacies of the software.

To learn a software system from the ground up, documentation within the system is of primary importance. Components should be separated into tabs. These tabs need to be chunked in a logical manner, so that users can learn the system basics and then easily navigate beyond what they already know, using their basic knowledge as the foundation for adding new functionality skills.

However, basic skill requirements are different for different learners.  Here is where the importance of addenda comes in.  In other words, basic training information required by the least experienced workers could be referenced in addenda, that millennials can ignore, and baby boomers can use as needed.  This addresses both the broad spectrum of basic background knowledge in general computing, as well as how quickly an individual learner can pick up on the specific details of the system they are learning.  If they need a refresher, there are two ways to go back and find basic, “walk you through it” kind of instructions, without complicating the menu fields in the program.  Perhaps these addenda could even be comprised of links to written or video tutorials outside of the system.

Example: How does SalesChain Address These Needs?

Training is the cornerstone of any good user adoption strategy. In addition to giving users the technical instruction they need to use the system well, training gives users an opportunity to address areas of the system that are challenging and hard for them to understand. It allows users to answer the question of “what’s in it for me” and find their own motivations for using the system well. For example, implementation of the SalesChain system comes with four different training classes targeted at different topics and specific individuals within your business. Additionally, we give our users a direct link to a library of training videos

Some of this goes back to the fundamental building blocks of the system. Is the user interface (UI) easy to use and understand for boomers? Is it slick enough to be familiar to millennials? Hitting the middle ground between these two points requires software developers to adopt a philosophy of user-friendliness.

Sometimes, this means redeveloping a UI progressively around the same core system. SalesChain is entering its 20th year of business and is employing its second-generation UI. Back in 2002, we adopted a look that fit the times, but as we grew and our users became multi-generational, we needed to adapt to something which cultivated a more modern look. In 2010 we built our current UI, and we expect that as we grow, this will happen again too. It’s our philosophy that by staying with what’s familiar and what represents a look that is with the times, we will help cultivate better user adoption and satisfaction.

Self-help resources are useful, but access to direct support is invaluable. There’s no dancing around the fact that some issues are just more easily solved on the phone with a company representative. At SalesChain, we provide phone support during business hours and extend our other support resources outside of those hours. This ensures that during business hours, when the most work is getting done, people have access to the most personal level of support.

Conclusion

Providing multiple system training modalities is a sound investment for companies.  It should increase speed and efficiency among all employees, regardless of their range of computer and software experience.  The most successful companies have a vision for the future in mind, as they develop their business plans.  Constantly changing business technology is the driver for incorporating appropriate employee training into this plan.  The plan will need constant evaluation and tweaking, as the next generation of technology savvy people move into the employment pool.

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.