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Top Considerations when Choosing a Quoting Solution as a Value-added Reseller of ICT: 11 Point Checklist

This checklist is for VARs (value added resellers) of the ICT industry. If you meet those two criteria, this is for you. 

What does your current quoting process look like?

As an VAR of ICT, you’ve probably experienced a messy and complex quoting process. 

Creating a quote from just one bill of material (BoM), can be challenging. Combining multiple files of multiple formats into one single quote, can be much messier, time consuming and tedious. 

If your process includes copying & pasting, back-and-forth editing, multiple meetings with your teams and then clients, countless reviews, attempt to track who edited what, it may be time to consider a quoting automation tool. 

The unique complexity and enormity of data, along with the pricing calculations and considerations that go into creating a quote for ICT projects, makes the process complex and expensive. 

Many ICT VAR businesses still rely on spreadsheet operations and templates that they’ve created internally. Others may choose CPQ tools that don’t provide solutions to those unique and complex functions that are part of the quoting process. 

So, how can you really know what to look for when shopping around for a quoting solution? What should you ask that vendor while you’re on a demo call? How do you know if you’ve nailed the right solution for you as a VAR?

We hope this guide will help you choose the solution that is perfect for your business so you can save time, money and disappointment caused by choosing the wrong tool. We’ve compiled 11 capabilities and functions. 

  1. Can I easily integrate multiple vendors & Disti’s Bills of Materials files, in any format – into one quote?

The solution you’re considering should enable you to:

  • Get rid of all copy & paste operations
  • Have the ability to import your BoMs of any format, into one workspace
  • Maintaining the integrity of the BoM’s data structure
  •  Does the solution support quoting of equipment and services from multiple vendors and distributors in the same quote?

Manipulating the data manually (and then checking for errors), is an inevitable recipe for errors and literally, an exhausting process. 

  1. If I’m a Cisco partner, does the quoting solution offer full integration with Cisco CCW and CCW-R?  As a Cisco partner, the solution you’re considering should enable you to:
  • Integrate with Cisco’s proprietary format, to automatically integrate with the pricing source. This will provide you with up-to-date Cisco pricing information
  • Automatic updates of your Bills of Materials (BoMs), including unlimited amount of line items

This will help you avoid any need for copy & paste operations as part of your process. 

  1. If I’m a Cisco Partner, can I get up-to-date Cisco VIP rebate calculations?

As a Cisco partner, you want your quoting solution to have:

  • Have access to the VIP rebate percentage that’s associated with each SKU with any outstanding opportunity
  • Up to the minute access to the latest VIP rebates, while creating your quote. This will allow you to react quickly and close more deals

This capability can save hours of work and effort, with one platform that helps you incorporate the VIP rebates within your quote, as you’re creating the quote. 

  1. Does this solution enable me to integrate a number of vendor and/or disti BoMs of several currencies, and easily create a single quote in one single currency? 

Having multiple BoMs, in multiple currencies presents a challenge for many VARs who do business globally and need to present a quote in one currency. 

Just tracking the exchange rate of multiple currencies while promising the integrity of the exchange rate is another challenge in itself.  

The benefit of implementing a tool that can support multiple currency exchange rates, in real time, has many benefits and functions: 

  • Pricing
  • Margin forecasts
  • Reporting
  • Taxation 

Choosing a solution that enables the automated support of multiple currencies, will enable you to quickly create quotes in the currency of your choice, in customer-facing quotes as well.

  1. Can you maintain control over who edits what and where, while saving the integrity of the quote and not being concerned that anyone has made changes you aren’t aware of? 

Choosing a solution that enables you to define who has control of editing what and where, has huge benefits for quick processing of the quote:

  • Customizable permissions who has access to editing privileges to which data
  • Share and edit with clients for effective meetings
  • Need less amount of meetings

Enable all of your stakeholders to have access to accurate data in real-time, while under pressure to deliver quotes, you don’t want to resort to copying information from “stale” Excel sheets – and hope that the information is still valid. 

  1. Just how scalable is the solution I’m considering? 

Your solution should be able to seamlessly handle quotes containing from 1000 lines to 30,000 item lines.  

This is crucial for all VARs that have a mix of SMB, mid-size and enterprise-scale customers.

  1. Can this solution generate personalized quotes for a specific customer?

Many VARs want to be able to offer customizable templates that can be used to personalize quotes for specific customers, for these benefits:

  • Customized content in the quote
  • The look-and-feel, organization, groups of items or categories
  • The format of the quote should be flexible and modifiable
  • A solution that supports dynamic templates to allow you to hide columns, rows, or sections of rows

All of these allow easy scanning of the quote for quicker approval. 

  1. Can the solution you’re considering generate quotes for your ICT customers in the CRM? 

The ideal solution should enable you to work in one space, with all of your customer data at hand, so you can:

  • Have the ability to import BoMs directly into your CRM and generate quotes in the CRM
  • Import BoMs into a spreadsheet so you can manipulate the quote with the associated customer data

This eliminates any potential of error caused by copying and pasting. Human manipulation of excel spreadsheets that include tens of thousands of items should be a thing of the past. 

  1. Does the quoting solution provider speak ICT VAR language and jargon?

It’s helpful having a vendor that understands your business and challenges. This is especially true for vendors of ICT. Ask yourself and the quoting vendor you are considering:

  • Do these people understand the complexity of quoting for VARs clients? 
  • Do they understand the terminology and speak the ICT language? 
  • Do they understand your business challenges that come into play in the quoting process, the crucial aspect of getting a quote out quickly?  
  • Do you have to take time to educate them, so they can customize a solution for you?

These questions are important to consider, from a number of crucial aspects, from the economical aspect, the time management aspect and communication with your client. 

  1. Can your salespeople – located anywhere in the world – access the solution in order to generate accurate quotes within minutes?

ICT VARs want to be able to provide on-the-spot quotes – accurately, from anywhere at any time, enable your sales people to:

  • Deliver quotes, easily, under pressure 
  • Avoid resorting to copying information from “stale” Excel sheets while hoping that the information is still valid
  • Get easy access to pricing sources to eliminate pricing mistakes, delays in getting the quotes out. 

Making it as easy as possible for your sales teams to get quotes out, while taking all of the potential delays and possible errors, is crucial for getting more deals, faster. 

  1. Does the solution you’re considering offer the option to create what-if scenarios of the same quote?

What-if scenarios will enable you to play around with the calculations, enable you to come up with the best version of the quote, after walking through many options and versions.    

This will help you come up with the best quote for your customer but also ensure that your margin forecasting will be accurate, leaving no unpleasant surprises. 

In conclusion, asking the right questions can ensure a true transformation of your entire quoting process, with major benefits to your business and teams:

  • Avoid wasting time buried under the weight of repetitive, boring, and useless data
  • Eliminate any need to copy and paste information from spreadsheets that may or may not be updated with the most current Cisco or Disti pricing data
  • Avoid spending valuable time, improving the end customer experience with a streamlined quoting process that prioritizes speed and accuracy and keeps their focus on the real issues
  • Give your teams a tool that will help, not hinder – smart decisions that sales management can make based on the accuracy of information
  •  Reduce stress-related to guesswork and late-night excel manipulation

The features we’ve collected are an absolute must if you want your quoting tool to have a substantial impact on your entire quoting process and all operations related to quoting.