Here’s the audio file and transcript from Part 2 of Will Sherlin’s interview with Rowan Gibson, author of “The Four Lenses of Innovation,” on the popular podcast “The Innovation Engine:” Continue reading →

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It’s time for another 30-day business advice book. Bill Curtis and Bryan Pace promise to help any willing entrepreneur go from a business newbie to a thriving business owner in under 30 days. Try 27 days. In their book, aptly titled “ How to Start a Business in 27 Days: A Step-by-Step Guide That Anyone Can Use to Achieve Business Ownership ,” Curtis and Pace guide readers through an array of steps to plan and execute a business startup. They cover quite a range of topics from finance to marketing to legal issues and taxation, with a little inspiration to boot. If you subscribe to the philosophy that a business should be started quickly, “How to Start a Business in 27 Days” might be a book to consider. This book is designed to be used by those who want to start immediately with minimal investment and with a focus on specific steps and recommendations, some of which are particularly helpful to solopreneurs and small businesses. The book starts off at a running pace, with more than five steps listed for the reader on the “first day”. These steps aren’t lightweight either. “How to Start a Business in 27 Days” advises readers to identify their company mission, mantra, and testing strategies and then walks readers through these steps. This process of steps continues to “Day 27”, when the business is ready to launch. In deciding whether this book is right for you, prospective readers should focus on two questions: What makes this book different from the others? Is the book realistic and if so, how can I implement it NOW? The Best Advice Is in the Details In comparing this book to others of its type, “How to Start a Business in 27 Days” has a similar overall approach. It basically includes a list of steps that should move a reader toward better and better business success. The difference is in the details. “How to Start a Business in 27 Days” focuses on issues that aren’t covered in similar books. Some of these issues include scalability, finance (including credit) and exit strategies. These and other issues offers the kinds of details rarely touched on by other quick business startup books. But they are the very things tha will be critical to the entepreneur’s success in the long run. Another thing that sets “How to Start a Business in 27 Days” apart is the specificity in recommendations. Are you the type of entrepreneur who wants to know up-front the answer to questions like: How many social media accounts should I set up? How much money should I have to finance my business? What should I do about the competition? If so, this book will provide specific answers to those questions as well as targeted advice to help prepare for other issues. Another important aspect of the book is the type of business startup it addresses. Many currently available books on the subject focus largely on the Internet. While books covering online business startup are clearly needed they leave out many other businesses categories of potential interest to entrepreneurs. Not every business wants to (or is able to) operate completely online. So “How to Start a Business in 27 Days” offers strategies for both online and offline business startup. The key is the strategy, not the particular type of business being launched. In fact, Internet strategies, while certainly touched upon, are not mentioned in detail until the latter half of the book. Fantasy and Reality That being said, the real problem with the book seems to be with its central claim. As many small business owners can probably attest, it can take much more than 27 days to start (or even to be ready to start) a business. While Curtis and Pace make a good attempt, the steps seem rushed to say the least. The book moves quickly through steps that can take months to fully implement (testing, market research, website design). As mentioned above, there are a lot of steps suggested for the first day. And while these steps may be familiar to a seasoned entrepreneur, they may totally overwhelm the business newbie — the very reader the book should be trying to reach. Another issue is the limited examples. For those readers who are able to keep up, there are only a few specific sample startups discussed. And the authors don’t follow any of these through for the entire 27 day startup process. This is a much needed detail since it would help readers see how the steps in the book are applied to specific types of businesses. Quick Read for Small Biz People That Need More Details Overall, though, the book has merit for two particular audiences: Future small business owners/solopreneurs who want a quick read on the various small details that are critical to small business Small business owners/solopreneurs who want to review the steps after launching a small business These two groups would best benefit from the book’s focus on specific details and questions that they may have overlooked in planning and strategy. About the Authors Bill Curtis and Bryan Pace are consultants, entrepreneurs, and owners of a consulting company, OmniThrive. They can be found at their website or on Twitter at @BillCurtis and @BryanLPace . “How to Start a Business in 27 Days” is available on Amazon. This article is based on an electronic copy of the book provided for reviewing purposes.   This article, ” Can You Really Start a Business in 27 Days? ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Innovation stands in service to the strategic goals of our organization, or it certainly should! Continue reading →

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The battle of the smart watches has begun before the Apple Watch has even made it onto the wrists of awaiting customers. Google has announced  a new Android Wear update that the company claims will make its wearables more helpful and functional. A number of new features will be coming with this update. Users will now be able to use gesture control to scroll through notifications and Google Now cards. Google claims that a simple flick of the wrist will allow you to scroll through the stream, completely hands free. Responding to messages will also be getting easier for users fond of emojis. A rather fun feature coming with this update is the ability to draw right on the screen. Instead of searching for the desired emoji, you can draw what you want instead. Your Android Wear will guess which emoji you want and then all you have to do is send it. A new interface flow and the addition of always-on apps should improve the Android Wear user experience. The new interface flow makes it so finding the app or function you want just takes a tap. Tap or swipe left once to see your app list. Tap a second time to bring up your contacts and a third tap to see a list of actions. Always-on apps gives the option to keep apps going while in use, even if you drop your arm or don’t tap the screen. To save battery life, your Android Wear screen will only be in full color when you are actively looking at it, otherwise dropping to black and white. The selected app will remain alive until you decide you are done. While most Android Wear watches already come with WiFi built in, the new update will activate this ability. This means that even without your phone nearby, as long as you have a WiFi connection, you can still receive and respond to notifications. This could expand Android Wear’s usefulness. Google has stated that these new updates will be available for all seven Android Wear watches. Availability will begin with the LG Watch Urbane, first, but others will follow over the next few weeks. There was no other information given as to the schedule for the update availability for the rest of the Android Wear line. Image: Google This article, ” Android Wear Adds Gestures, WiFi and More ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Mobile dominated the news this week with information on a new Apple patent, a long awaited digital payment system and the wider availability of a popular mobile device. Look for details on these stories and more in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup. Mobile Technology Apple Patents a System That Can Broadcast Your Availability Status Wouldn’t it be great if you could set your phone to “away” instant messenger style? To not just set your phone to vibrate but to actually let callers know that you are unavailable. A new U.S. patent recently granted to Apple might do just that. Coin is Coming One card to hold them all. That’s what Coin promises. It’s a digital payment system developers insist can just about replace your credit and other payment cards. Now, after a long wait, Coin is finally on its way to customers. If you have never heard of it, Coin is a device that can digitally hold your credit card, debit card, loyalty card, and gift card information. OnePlus One Phone, You No Longer Need an Invite The OnePlus One phone, known initially as much for its invitation-only purchase policy as for its unfortunate “ladies first” marketing misstep, is erasing one of these forever. OnePlus announced that sales of its first and only smartphone currently available are finally open to everyone. That’s right, you no longer need a OnePlus One phone invite to purchase the phone. Local Marketing Manta Business Directory Upgrades to Help You Get Discovered Manta announced a new set of tools this week the company says will help get your small business noticed. The Manta business directory is a longtime online resource. Getting your company’s profile listed makes your business more visible, especially locally. The listings have traditionally included vital information like a phone number, site address, or operating hours. Tender Greens Restaurants Grow Their Own Produce On-Site When you dine at Tender Greens , a sandwich and salad restaurant chain in California, you don’t just get to see the food that you and your fellow diners are enjoying that day. You will also find yourself surrounded by the food the restaurant plans to serve in the coming weeks. Advantages of Using eCommerce Software in Your Retail Business You need money to buy anything, but not necessarily everything. Again, if you think that only money can make you more money, that is not what I believe firmly. To me, and most of the startups as well, I think it is just the path you choose to make money that matters. Small Biz Spotlight Spotlight: BlogPaws is a Media Company That Puts Animals First For bloggers, connecting with brands in your industry can be a prime source of revenue and opportunity. And those relationships can also lead to additional exposure for the brands. In many industries, there are companies and platforms designed specifically to connect those brands and bloggers. Small Business Operations SBA Preparing for National Small Business Week The nationwide celebration of small businesses is two weeks away. National Small Business Week is being held from May 4-8 this year. For one week every year since 1963, the President of the United States has declared a national recognition for small businesses and their importance to the economy. This is the 52nd National Small Business Week in the U.S. Inside Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit Mexican drug cartels. Russian botnets. Chinese hackers. It’s all in a day’s work for Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit. The Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) is a unit within Microsoft where employees track cybercrime in real time. The DCU has an important goal: fight cybercrime . To some this role may seem surprising. Startup Ground Control Beer is Out of This World — Literally Depending on your taste, you’ve probably had some mighty good beers in your time. But until now, you may not have had a beer that’s literally out of this world. Now it’s time to leave the capsule, if you dare. For those interested in trying a beer that’s quite literally been in space, there’s Ground Control Beer . Retired Firefighter Creates Exposure Tracker App to Track Long-Term Risks There are many dangers that go along with being a firefighter. The obvious ones include burns, smoke inhalation and building collapses. But there are also some less obvious long-term dangers that go along with fighting fires year after year. Clive Savacool has dealt with those dangers firsthand. In March 2014, he collapsed after battling a grass fire in Pittsburg, California. Marijuana Businesses Offer Opportunities, But Also Risks In emerging marijuana businesses both the opportunities and the risks are, pardon the pun, high. The same could be said for the industry’s startup potential. And even though traditional banks are not getting behind the industry just yet, there are investors in the marijuana industry . Amy Dowell Creates Art on Your Skin Amy Dowell opened The Painted Lady  tattoo parlor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on April 1 and already is booked solid for roughly the next year. And that’s no April Fool’s joke. Her art, see above, is lauded (she has won more awards than can be easily counted) and her new business venture is flourishing to the extent that her client list is now global. Technology Trends You Can Play Any Sound With INSTRUMENT 1 Nashville is known for music. So it’s no surprise a company creating a digital instrument that can emulate any sound is also based there. Artiphon founder Mike Butera, a musician boasting a PhD in sound studies, found it frustrating to carry multiple instruments to shows. Say “Open Sesame” With the Sesame Smart Lock What kid doesn’t dream that saying, “Open Sesame” opens some kind of secret passageway? Childhood dreams of magic and treasure aside, even adults would admit that such convenience has appeal. One company is playing on both fantasy and reality with a smart lock that can open a door with a phrase or secret knock. The Sesame smart lock is the first creation to come out of Candy House. Time Warner Cable is Boosting Internet Speeds, Too Time Warner Cable is joining the race to bring faster Internet speeds to customers. With Google Fiber expanding and Comcast announcing Gigabit Pro, it’s no surprise Time Warner has announced they are going to up their speeds as well. The company is calling their new Internet experience “TWC Maxx.” iPhones Photo via Shutterstock This article, ” Big Mobile News Includes Apple Patent, New Digital Payment System ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The October deadline created by Visa and Mastercard is looming for small businesses to accept EMV chip card payments or face fraud liability. But you may not have to navigate these unknown waters alone. First Data has announced an expanded agreement with Sam’s Club to improve its  merchant services and help small businesses become EMV ready. There has recently been a big push for small businesses to move to terminals that accept EMV technology. Though no laws require this yet, it would be wise to make the switch before the October deadline. This is where the collaboration between First Data and Sam’s Club could help out small businesses. With this agreement, First Data will be expanding its on-site presence in Sam’s Club stores. First Data says it will be increasing staffing of on-site business consultants at Sam’s Club locations around the U.S. First Data consultants will be providing on-the-ground demonstrations, advice, and support aimed at enterprise growth. In the official release announcing the collaboration, MiKaela Wardlaw Lemmon, Vice President of Member Services for Sam’s Club, explains : “Sam’s Club and First Data have helped small businesses grow for more than 10 years and our shared mission to maximize member savings on critical payment solutions continues today. As small businesses face a looming October deadline to implement payment systems that accept chip-card technology, they can rely on Sam’s Club and First Data to guide them through this vital transition with personalized support, cutting-edge technology and the outstanding value our members deserve.” First Data’s small business solutions feature Clover, a business management system using cloud-based software and hardware that is EMV ready. First Data says Clover enables businesses to securely accept payments — even mobile and online payments — manage inventory, track revenues, improve customer loyalty, and generate reports. The expanded partnership between First Data and Sam’s Club will help educate small businesses and provide updated payment solutions. The goal is to ease access to EMV-ready technology before the October deadline. Image: First Data This article, ” First Data Increases Staff in Sam’s Clubs Prior to EMV Deadline ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Antivirus solutions come in many forms, but they are still absolutely critical to the security of your business. When considering which program to get, real-time protection is the feature to look for. This means that you are protected all the time your computer is on. The program is continually scanning all incoming URLs and files for threats. It’s like having your own security guard at your front door, checking the credentials of everyone who wants in. Here’s a list of antivirus software options worth considering if you are looking for protection from all the online critters out to steal your identity or turn your computer into a botnet. Avast! Avast! is one of the multi-award winning antivirus software options around since the early 1990s. That’s makes it one of the oldest kids on the block in the online security industry. Like many antivirus apps, it has both free and paid versions, and is also available for a variety of platforms, including Mac OS X and Linux. However, the free version is only for home and non-commercial use, so the business version will have to be purchased for $35 a year, with discounts if you pay for longer. These prices are currently a special offer — the normal annual price is $40, with discounts for longer licenses. BitDefender Bitdefender is another of the antivirus software options, made by a Romanian-based company. It launched in 2001, and it has quite a few features to recommend itself to any business owner looking to protect a computer system. It checks for viruses, spyware, email spam, phishing, and includes a firewall. It also scans links by looking at the webpage you’re going to, and telling you whether it is safe or not, before you proceed. The best feature however is something called Safego, which protects you on social media. It scans your Facebook news feed and warns you if any of the links leads to malware. It can be installed separately on Facebook for free, without the need to install the entire Bitdefender app. Bitdefender is not cheap for small and medium-sized businesses. The price for Small Office Security starts at $143 a year, for up to five users. You can test it first with a 30-day free trial. Kaspersky Kaspersky is an award-winning cross-platform security app, and business users can also take advantage of a Linux version. It offers the real-time protection discussed earlier, and wastes no time destroying all of the viruses, malware, trojans, and keyloggers that may be lurking in your hard drive. The Small Office Security version will also secure your online banking, encrypt your data, manage your passwords, and protect your mobile devices. As with Bitdefender, Kaspersky is not cheap. Small Office Security currently clocks in at $229.00 a year for 5 users, with a 30 day free trial. AVG AVG is both an extremely reliable and extremely affordable software . Packages start at about $32 a year per computer, with a discount if you pay for 2 years up-front. Everything comes with a 30-day free trial. Besides the usual antivirus protection, it also monitors your downloads, securely deletes your files to prevent them from being retrieved, scans your Web and social media links, encrypts and password-protects your files, stops spam, and offers a first-class firewall. Windows Defender When you see the prices above, you may start to wonder why you should pay so much. Especially since Windows offers an antivirus suite and firewall for free. It’s called Windows Defender  and it’s not bad. But it’s not exactly great, either. You can enable it by going to your Windows Menu, then typing ‘defender’ (without the quote marks). The pros include the fact that it is made by the same company that made the operating system. So it has been proven that Defender uses less system resources than other antivirus apps.  Plus it’s easy to set up, with a pleasant and easy-to-understand user interface. But one of the cons is that it’s not 100 percent guaranteed to find all the threats on your PC. So don’t use this as your sole protection forever. Use it as a starting point, and then test-drive one of the other options here for much better detection rates. Webroot SecureAnywhere Options Webroot has four different products for the small to medium-sized business, all with 30-day free trials. The Webroot set of products have all consistently been given the highest scores in benchmarking experiments, with detection rates hovering around 90 percent. The business apps are only available for five users or more, starting at $40 per user per year. There are also the usual discounts for buying longer licenses. One of the biggest advantages is that it is an extremely light program — 750KB. Therefore it doesn’t take up too much space on your computer and is light on system resources. F-Secure Anti-Virus 2015 F-Secure is another of the antivirus software options that has consistently been given top marks. AV-Test has awarded them the “ Best Corporate Protection Award ” four years in a row. F-Secure provides an app which covers computers, laptops, and servers (including Linux). It detects viruses and malware in emails, as well as in links (with a service called Internet Gatekeeper). Getting prices can be a challenge as the F-Secure site redirects you to an application you need to fill in. But Virus-Logic is quoting a price of $46 per license, with a minimum of five licenses per order. BullGuard Antivirus Bullguard is a 14-year old Danish company which ran into some PR problems a few years back. Their software went on the blink and classed every piece of software on their customers’ computers as a virus. Those programs were then quarantined. But according to reports, since then, Bullguard has vastly improved, and comes highly recommended by many. Bullguard does not have a “business version” as such. Instead a package called “Premium Protection” simply includes everything the company has to offer. This comes with a generous 60-day free trial, and costs about $65 a year for three computers. The other options are also paid — there’s no free plan. Just look at the website and see what suits you best. ESET NOD32 Antivirus 8 The one with the strange, difficult to remember name comes from Slovakia, and has a very good Business Edition . It includes something called “ESET Remote Administrator” which makes it easy to manage servers. You can also install ESET on Microsoft Windows Server operating systems. “Remote Management” comes at a price of $150 a year for five computers and five Android phones. But there is also a smaller Security Home Office Edition, which costs $85. This covers three computers and three Android phones. Panda Antivirus Pro 2015 Panda is a Spanish creation, and is one of the oldest solutions of its kind, having been founded back in 1990, as the Internet was in its infancy. Its trademark technology is named TruPrevent, and it has something called “Collective Intelligence” which detects, scans and classifies malware in real time. Panda also has “ Cloud Protection “, which does everything in the Cloud. This means that the client does not need to install the software if they don’t want to. To enable Cloud Protection, you have to complete an application on the company’s site, and a sales representative will quote you a price, based on your business needs. Trend Micro Antivirus+ 2015 Trend Micro is a U.S. company, but is based in Japan. It is notable for its close cooperation with Interpol to provide knowledge, resources and tactics to fight cybercrime. It also has an attractive package for small to medium-sized businesses. It’s called Worry-Free Business Security , and has three levels: Standard, Advanced, or Services. As usual, the one you choose depends on your business requirements. Just click on the link provided above, and look at the chart to see where your company stands. The Standard Version starts at $75.50 for two people per year. The advanced one starts at about $124 for two people per year. The Services Version starts at $75.50 for two people per year. As you can see, this is a highly affordable option. VoodooSoft VoodooShield 2.0 VoodooSoft VoodooShield 2.0 is a bit unique among security solutions because it has a single purpose — to hunt down and quarantine potentially damaging .exe programs on your computer. So this could be considered an “anti-exe” app. An “exe” file is short for executable file, and it is mostly what you receive when you download a software program. It is also what launches the program when you open it. The vast majority of .exe files are harmless and do what they are meant to do. But a small proportion of them contain malware, spyware and nasty viruses that can turn your computer into a brick or recruit it for cybercrime. So Voodoo Shield has a whitelist where you can type in all of the programs which are authorized to run on your computer. The rest get quarantined until you decide whether or not they can be let through. It is extremely affordable too. The cost is $20.00 per computer, per year, with small discounts if you buy longer licenses. VirusTotal The list ends with a free web-based option, but it doesn’t offer real-time protection. So this solution should only be used alongside one of the other security options out there just to be safe. What VirusTotal is good for is scanning files which you think may be potentially dangerous. Say a potential client sends you a Zip file, but you are unsure if the potential client can be trusted. So VirusTotal is there to scan the file and report back its findings. Simply upload VirusTotal from your computer or from a URL. It will then use more than 50 different virus checkers to examine and cross-examine the file. The site even provides a tool allowing you to insert a “send to VirusTotal” option in the right-click Windows Explorer menu. Antivirus solutions remain critical for protecting your software, hardware and data in an increasingly dangerous digital world. So look at the antivirus software options above and see which one is right for your business. If your company uses another antivirus product not on this list, what is it and what experiences have you had? Antivirus Photo via Shutterstock This article, ” 13 Antivirus Software Options for Your Business ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Southwest Airlines is an unusual company.  In an industry notorious for losing money, it has achieved over forty consecutive years of profitability.  No one else comes close to matching that record.  It makes you wonder why everybody doesn’t just copy their model. Some have, but most can’t, because Southwest’s model is intertwined with its mission.  Most air carriers try to dominate routes, but Southwest focuses on being “THE low cost airline” and that drives just about everything it does, from the planes it buys to where it offers service. Richard Rumelt stresses that good strategy “brings relative strength to bear against relative weakness.”  Competitive advantage is far from arbitrary.  It does not come from Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint decks, but from how a firm sees and fulfills its purpose.  Great strategy starts then, not with analysis, but from defining and committing to a mission. The Value Chain No one has shaped corporate … Continue reading →

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Many products and services today come in a bunch of different configurations. Just think about the options you face when shopping for computers, phones, a car, or even plans for wireless and cable services. Screen resolution, hard drive size, color, etc. Keeping up with which customizable pieces work with others manually makes it more difficult to make the right offer to the right customer at the right time. That’s especially true in a world where customers expect immediate responses for everything. Russ Chadinha, Director of Product Marketing at PROS, a software company that helps organizations use big data to sell more effectively, shares how CPQ (configure-price-quote) applications can help them sell more, be more efficient, and improve the customer experience with the sales process. (This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the audio player at the end of this article.) * * * * * Small Business Trends: All right, this is Brent Leary and with me right now is Russ Chadinha, the Director of Product Marketing at PROS. Russ, thank you for joining me today. Russ Chadinha: Hey Brent, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you and be with you. Thanks for having me. Small Business Trends: Absolutely. Now before we jump into this whole discussion about CPQ and what it is and how it impacts the customer experience, maybe you can give us a little bit of your personal background. Russ Chadinha: I’ve spent about 25 years in the tech space. I started out as a marketing person in the direct competer business, and was able then to move along to companies like Compaq and HP, and drive marketing of new products, new go-to market strategies, business development and then ultimately spend time in the sales space. Small Business Trends: Talk a little about your current company, PROS. Russ Chadinha: PROS is a software company that uses big data and real science to take that data and provide prescriptive insights around revenue management, pricing effectiveness, and sales effectiveness. Small Business Trends: Maybe you could give us a high-level definition of CPQ (configure, price and quote) and how having a system in place to automate the roll out of different configurations for different products can impact the customer experience? Russ Chadinha: What makes it so powerful is it’s able to provide a consistent experience across your go-to market channel. If you have a direct sales force or you have an inside sales team, if you have partners, or even if you have B2B commerce, you can manage that experience across all those channels from a single repository. Very efficient, but also very effective if your customers are coming at you from multiple channels; they will get the same consistent experience. What does that mean? They’ll see the products presented in the same way. They’ll be priced the right way so they won’t have an arbitrage opportunity with you from a pricing standpoint, and they will get a branded experience in every interaction. We also talk about the speed of the customer today, and CPQ really makes it much more efficient for them as well. The sales team is responding to them more accurately. And research is showing that there are fewer interactions when you’re using a CPQ tool. And although you may be spending a little less time with a customer, that’s not a bad thing, and customers really appreciate getting a great, consistent experience. Small Business Trends: And they like to control as much of their buying process as possible. Does this allow them to at least feel like they have more of an ability to manage their process? Russ Chadinha: Yeah, that is so true. And when you talk about the complexity of product today, just being able to ensure that you’ve got an accurate quotation from your suppliers is really a time-consuming activity. You get these complex products in. You need to review them, make sure that it has everything that you’re looking for on it. It’s the right way, the right thing, right price, the right time. And providers that use CPQ tools are able to ensure they’re providing an accurate, comprehensive, complete quote. And that makes it much easier then for the procurement activity to be faster, to actually build trust in that interaction. Small Business Trends: Let’s look at it also from the perspective of the sales person. It seems like this allows them to have information at their disposal and have a greater opportunity for up-sales or cross-sales in a more efficient way. Russ Chadinha: Let’s use a quick example. Say you’re a new sales executive and have a customer looking for a complex solution from you. And as you go through the process of defining the solution, CPQ tools will give you a guided selling experience. It will talk you though the questions about the customer and allow you then not to be a product expert, but to understand your customer and their needs. And using the answers to those questions, it will then make a recommendation on a tailored, comprehensive solution for that specific customer so making it easier for the sales person to create the right tailored offer for that specific customer, saving them a great deal of time but also ensuring that it’s accurate. Additionally, it will provide recommendations. So now the sales rep will get suggestions on other things with that particular package or that solution that you should consider or make available to the customer. So now they’ve got cross-sale and up-sale recommendations as well. And all of these then create this interaction and engagement with the customer. They can buy more of what they need from you. Now you start to move from a supplier to a trusted partner — somebody who has demonstrated that you can provide them complete, full solutions, and somebody that they can rely on for speed of execution and accuracy — again, back to the idea of becoming a trust advisor. Small Business Trends: Yeah, and it seems like there’s some tangible benefits that are coming right from this approach. Russ Chadinha: Research says somewhere in the area of 49 percent increase in productivity, which is coming from the speed at which they’re able to turn around those quotations. But we’re also seeing a reduction in the sales cycle. It takes fewer times to iterate the quote and the offer, which makes it much simpler and faster as part of the sales cycle. We’re also seeing then through the cross-sale, the up-sale and the guided selling capabilities. They’re providing a larger, more comprehensive offer and solution. So that’s actually increasing the revenue and the margin. And just the sheer number of more opportunities they can handle. I can be more efficient with those opportunities, and I have a greater earning potential as a sales rep. So it really helps your revenue attainment, helps your sales cycle decrease. Your win rates actually go up because you’re faster, you’re more accurate and you’re getting more activity from your clients. Small Business Trends: The kind of numbers you’re talking about, does that happen when a service like yours is integrated into something like a CRM application? Russ Chadinha: CPQ by itself is great. CPQ with CRM is really good, but if you want true business impact then you add in the price optimization and guidance. We’re seeing two percent to four percent uplift in revenue, and now we’re starting to see up to 15 percent incremental margin impact with the addition of price optimization and guidance in the CPQ space — all done within CRM. So what that’s starting to do then is transform a company’s CRM system into a revenue and profit optimization engine; not just efficiency, but effectiveness with real P&L impact. Small Business Trends: So the bottom line here is that with using these kinds of systems in tandem, not only are you able to optimize your opportunity to sell but it does so in an efficient way where it speeds up the sales cycle. And then probably the most important part is presenting a good customer experience, because now you’re able to provide them a quote that’s more personalized in nature based on the information that they input. Russ Chadinha: That’s exactly right. And what they’ll find, as you described then, is they’re actually delivering a much better customer experience. And it will actually drive a fantastic business result for them. Small Business Trends: Where could people learn more about CPQ and how you approach it? Russ Chadinha: Well we’d love for folks to check us out on our website at pros.com . This interview on automating the quote pricing process is part of the One on One interview series with thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the player above.  This article, ” Russ Chadinha of PROS: Automating Quotes and Pricing Improves Revenues and Customer Experience ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Collaboration, whether with songwriters or musicians, galvanized a single idea, turning into a massive alchemical expression with more creative power than an individual has to offer. Continue reading →

[via Innovation Excellence]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

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