Inventory and Accounting Software: Additional Tools for Your Sales Team

August 10, 2015

sales teamWe’ve all read a company’s “about” page on their website, claiming that their competitive advantage is their great customer service, and yet so many of these businesses are not taking advantage of software to better serve their customers.  Even with social media and the internet providing consumers with much of the information they need to make an informed purchase decision, a knowledgeable sales team is still a valued resource in many industries.  Traditionally, businesses have looked to back-end inventory and accounting software (ERP) with CRM or contact management tools as enough functionality for their sales team, but these tools often lack order taking features and analytics.  Whether interacting with customers on location, at tradeshows or in a showroom, equipping your sales team with the tools and information they need in a timely manner can make a positive impact on your bottom line.  To understand what functionality you need, first you need to understand your sales team.

Depending on the nature of your business and target market, you may benefit from using a small number of internal sales reps (employed and paid for by you) or an outside sales team (employed on a contract basis).  If you employ a small number of internal reps, than it may be worth it to give them full access to your back-end inventory and accounting ERP system. This way they have full autonomy to view available inventory, access customer information and place orders.  However keep in mind that many software systems charge based on number of users so this can become expensive.  In addition, you may want to restrict your sales team to only seeing certain information, and although this can be achieved with different permission settings, there are other options as well.  Consider implementing an online order portal or mobile sales application that is fully integrated with your back-end ERP system, as an alternative means of providing your sales reps the option to view inventory and place orders.

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ERP Software Sales: trick or treat?

October 30, 2014

ERP-Software-SalesAs we get ready to dish the Halloween candy, I’m seriously contemplating dressing up as the nefarious “ERP Snake-oil Sales” guy. While they’re not as common as they used to be a few years ago, they’re still out there. It sometimes seems like choosing an ERP Software system is a little like trick or treat – some will trick you, and other will treat you well.

 I was reviewing the post on how to select an ERP Vendor, and doing so reminded me of a couple of stories that prospective customers have shared with me recently about the “other” type of ERP salesperson – the “promise them anything to get the sale” type – thankfully a diminishing breed.

In one case, the salesperson answered “yes” to every question about functionality. The prospect was suspicious, so after doing a little research and finding something the software did not do – according to the vendor’s website – he asked the question, and again got a “yes”. TRICK! Happy ending here – he knew he should run away from this sales person as fast as possible.

The other one is not such a happy story. To close a sale (and make quota for the quarter), the salesperson deeply discounted the monthly fees, and got the customer to sign on the dotted line. However, the fine print stated that the monthly fee would increase (by close to 100%) in year 2, and imposed a minimum 3 year commitment. TRICK!

My recommendation is this: an ERP salesperson who tells you what you want to hear, who always answers “yes”, is more likely to be a trick. One who tells you what you need to know, and is willing to answer “no” when necessary – now that’s a TREAT!


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3 Great Exception Reports for Small Business Owners

April 9, 2014

Inventory-management-reportsIn a previous post we dealt with the concept of management by exception. As explained more fully in that post, a small business owner can benefit in multiple ways from being alerted by the company’s Inventory Management and Accounting ERP Software to important exceptions to the norm. Here are 3 good examples of exception reports that can help the owner (or manager) of a wholesale / distribution business to identify issues in a timely manner, without having to wade through all the routine transaction detail. Note that this article assumes that these reports are generated and sent automatically at the requisite intervals.

1. Price and Margin Exceptions

This one’s obvious: alert the owner to any sales orders entered that day for which the gross margin is below an acceptable threshold, and / or where the order entry person has overridden the system-defaulted selling price. The details on this will of course depend on your specific business and rules – for example, should the exception report be based on each individual line of an order, or just the order total? Additionally, the frequency and timeliness of this report will depend on your pick / pack / ship process and timelines – if you ship orders next day, then perhaps a nightly summary would be best.

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RepZio: Mobile Sales Application for Remote Sales Reps, Tradeshows and Showrooms

April 17, 2013

Sales App for Tradeshows, Remote Reps and ShowroomsDavid Silva recently got on the phone with Marny Tremblay, International Account Manager for RepZio, to discuss how she became involved with them and her experience with the app so far.

RepZio is a mobile sales application ( iPad/iPhone app) that allows sales reps to present products in a visually appealing way when on-site at a customer’s, at a trade show or on the showroom floor. RepZio is integrated with ERP software such as Blue Link to automatically pull product information from the inventory system and push orders down.

Marny Tremblay, Owner of Newnique Representation, a fashion sales agency, discovered RepZio after she experienced difficulty entering orders while on the road circulating trade shows and immediately fell in love with the product.

“I was exhausted,” said Marny after spending hours each night entering orders after a trade show.

She figured there must be a better way to take orders other than word, excel and email. When she stumbled upon RepZio she had never used an Apple product before but decided to immediately invest in an iPad. She called their team on Thursday and was up and running on the product by Monday. After a short time she came to refer to RepZio as a “salesman’s best friend”.

RepZio — A mobile sales application for remote sales reps, trade shows and showrooms

Shortly thereafter, Marny decided to represent RepZio herself — her line of work allows her to simultaneously use the app as a customer while also demonstrating the app to prospective RepZio clients. Given the beauty of the interface, the product basically sells itself as she uses it travelling from trade show to trade show.

“RepZio is a great fit for a variety of industries,” explained Marny, “whether it’s fashion, wine, furniture, jewellery, hair products or cosmetics.”

RepZio works by displaying categories of products or entire catalogs that salesmen or customers themselves can browse through. “I hold one iPad to show products myself and leave another iPad on the table for customers to browse themselves”. It allows for the capture of customer information and orders on the spot. Orders can be synced live with a back-end inventory and accounting system or entered offline and synced-up later.

The convenience of the app is undeniable. “One of my clients called while I was in a cab and I was able to put them on speakerphone and enter their order on my phone right then and there. Before I hung up the client had the order sitting in their inbox.”

The next big thing for RepZio will be the release of their sister app ShopZio.  This will enable Sales Reps to invite their customers to buy from them directly and collaborate with them on orders.  This direct line of communication with the sales rep opens a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities for the sales rep to engage with their customers.

RepZio is ahead of the game in the fast evolving world of tech available to sales reps on the go with a number of large enhancements slated for release in the near future.

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