Many channel resellers still utilize a manual and linear process to manage their support services and renewal business. At the outset, they get a quote, convert it into a proposal, send it to their customer, wait for a confirmation, and then book it to their accounting system. Ongoing, they “track” the status of the contract/warranty on a static platform such as an Excel spreadsheet. On the partner side, this approach is full of problems including inaccurate data, non-standardized proposals, high labor costs, low customer service delivery, and missed future renewal opportunities. For their customers it lacks the ability to manage change, associate assets with support contracts and other pertinent documents, quickly initiate service events, and control their IT budgets.
If you’re currently using a manual system it may be time to look at updating to a SaaS asset and contract management solution. It will solve all these problems for both you and your customers. There are several SaaS options to consider. Some are offered through OEMs or distributors. These types of solutions can help but have several limitations which need to be considered in your evaluation. They are mostly product specific which require you to adopt additional solutions to administer other lines. That leaves your support team with no standardized process. They are also not customer facing so you lose the “value add” service and opportunities to cross sell. They also still leave you dependent on accessing your historical sales data through them.
Another option is to partner with a SaaS provider specializing in asset and contract management. Most of these provide some basis of notification of impending renewals and keep the asset and contract information available to you 24/7, and have good reporting capabilities. One drawback to this option is the quality of the data going in and because of that, it is imperative that any solution provider entitle or audit the sales data against OEM records to assure accuracy. Other features to look for is whether the solution can be accessed by your customer, if they can accommodate multiple vendor quotes into a single (partner branded) format, and if it includes a business intelligence tool for you to mine your historical data to generate huge future sales opportunities.
The cost of modernization is negligible. Most of the OEMs/Distributors will provide them as part of their service or for a small percent of margin. The independent SaaS solutions have a very low implementation expense and a very high ROI through reduced cost, higher customer satisfaction/retention, and increase sales.