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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POS Functionality & eCommerce Integration for Wholesale Distribution Companies

October 16, 2014

POS and eCommerce ERPAs B2B and B2C eCommerce continues to increase in popularity, the line between wholesale, retail and eCommerce channels has started to blur. Wholesale companies, previously restricted to buying product from the manufacturer, storing in a warehouse and then selling and shipping to retail and distribution companies, are now starting to offer their product through other sales channels and to different consumers. With eCommerce sales expected to reach US $1.5 trillion by the end of this year, it’s no surprise that wholesale companies are interested in a piece of the eCommerce pie. Many wholesale companies have also branched into the retail space, by opening showrooms for their product, exhibiting at trade shows and building actual brick and mortar retail stores.  In order to account for these new sales channels in an all-in-one system, it is important to look for proper inventory and accounting ERP software, with point of sale (“POS”) functionality and eCommerce integration options. This way all data can be stored in a central database, and consequently inventory levels and availability will be accurately reflected no matter which sales channel an order comes in from.

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Understanding the Challenges of Credit Card Processing

October 8, 2014

credit card processing

Guest Post by Robert Hyman of HiTech Merchants

E-commerce and the trend to replace paper checks with electronic payments is quickly driving credit card acceptance to the forefront of B2B commerce.  As such, there are a number of challenges that must be dealt with when your business starts accepting card payments.  Three of them are discussed below.

One challenge is determining the true cost of credit card processing.  Complicated pricing models make it difficult to understand the real cost of accepting card payments. For example, interchange differential pricing charges a qualified rate, a non-qualified rate and an interchange differential fee all on the same transaction.  Calculating costs with this model is understandably difficult and time-consuming.  Interchange plus pricing represents a more transparent pricing model.  Interchange plus pricing charges a simple mark-up above the base cost set by Visa and MasterCard allowing for a common price structure to compare one processor to another.

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4 Popular Features to Look for in Wholesale Inventory Software

October 1, 2014

wholesale inventory software

When your business decides to take the crucial step to invest in wholesale inventory software, it is imperative that you make a thoughtful and well-informed decision that satisfies your business’s specific needs. With an abundance of features and customizable options available, achieving this task can sometimes be overwhelming. Although no two companies are exactly the same, there are several popular features that add value to basic inventory software and allow companies to better manage all business operations. These include; landed cost tracking, barcode scanning, sales rep applications, and lot tracking.

Landed Cost Tracking

Landed cost refers to the total cost of an inventoried product, taking into account expenses incurred to collectively purchase, transport, and import goods. Costs accounted for include such items as border fees, duties, taxes, transport costs and insurance, to name a few. Software that effectively manages landed costs has the ability to automatically account for and reconcile the costs mentioned above in order to arrive at the true cost of the goods. This ultimately enables businesses to protect margins and make better purchasing and pricing decisions.

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4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Inventory and Accounting ERP Software

September 16, 2014

getting-the-most-out-of-erp-softwareERP systems are costly.  They also involve a significant investment of other resources to implement and maintain, including human resources and time.  So when choosing a system, you want to go with a solution that will grow with your company and not require replacement in a couple of years’ time.  Investment in accounting and inventory software does not end after the check is signed, and there are several options for extending the life of your system over many years, long after go-live.   In order to get the most bang for your buck, consider the following:

Sign up for maintenance.

Maintenance is an extra option provided to businesses that can vary from vendor to vendor, but is generally designed to cover the cost of annual software upgrades and keep the application in warranty.  These fees usually amount to a percentage of the cost of software licenses, and can be paid on a monthly or annual basis.  The idea is that since most software vendors are continuously adding new features and improving on the technology of their systems, every year or so they release an upgraded version of the software.  Paying for maintenance means you receive these upgrades whenever they are released, as opposed to having to purchase a newer version outright.  It makes the transition to new technology and features easier if you’re upgrading every year instead of every couple of years. When negotiating maintenance fees with vendors, pay attention to the costs to make sure they also include the cost of the actual implementation and consulting time required to manage the upgrades. If they are not included, these additional fees can exceed the actual maintenance fees themselves.

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How to Get the Most Out of Distribution Software Demos

September 8, 2014

Distribution Software DemoChoosing to upgrade and implement new distribution ERP software is a huge decision that affects many areas of a company.  Not only does it provide the opportunity to improve technologies and increase automation, but it also provides a chance to evaluate processes and streamline activities across all departments. This is why the software search and evaluation process should be as extensive as the implementation process itself, in order to reap all the benefits from an upgrade.

Although most software vendors have unique sales processes for working with prospective customers, almost all will include a demonstration stage at some point. To best evaluate your options, consider only participating in demos when you have narrowed the search down to 2-3 vendors. Trying to evaluate too many can result in information overload, in which no decision is made at all.  To best prepare for the software evaluation process, and specifically how to make demos worthwhile, we have outlined some tips below.

Make 80% of Your Decision Before the Demo

Going into a demo, you should already have a good idea as to whether or not the software can meet all your needs, with the demo acting as final clarification.   Most of your time should be spent consulting with vendors on your specific business requirements and current processes, prior to even scheduling a demo.   Aside from reviewing specific features, a demo should be the final piece of the puzzle that reiterates and showcases what you already know – although software UI is an important factor to consider, it should not trump a system’s ability to meet your needs, and a vendor that understands your business and can help you achieve your goals.

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Why Company Culture Should Influence Your ERP Software Selection

September 2, 2014

evaluate company culture when purchasing ERPCompany culture is the set of values and practices shared by a company’s employees, which influences employee interaction, a company’s work environment, work expectations, future growth and strategic plans. This in turn affects employee behavior, physical company infrastructure and design, technology use, working hours, hiring policies and much more. Company culture is important because it directly impacts the success of a company. Companies with an adaptive culture aligned to business goals regularly outperform their competitors. Company culture is important as it not only affects the people you hire, but also influences the partnerships you develop. This is why culture should play a role in your decision-making process for purchasing new ERP software, and deciding which vendor you want to work with. A good software vendor will also consider company culture when selling their product as it can greatly impact the implementation process, training, success of the project and future communication. To aid in finding the best software vendor for your company, consider the following areas of company culture and how they can impact the decision.

Company Growth

If you’re a growing company looking to implement new ERP software, it is important that your software vendor is also growing and continuously looking to improve and expand upon their product offering. Ask if the company has released any new technologies in the past year and what their development team is currently working on. Determine whether or not they have experience working with similar companies and get a feel for how many users the system can support. You will want to work with a vendor who will be able to manage your projected growth and who has helped other companies grow their business as well. Another important factor to consider is how often the vendor provides software upgrades with new features, and whether or not this comes at an additional charge (including for installation).

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