Finding the right contract management strategy is key to growing your company and improving your customer experience. Here are five common challenges that may be hindering your company and our solutions on how to address them.
Many companies are missing not only when contracts are set to expire, but also missing out on the opportunity to consolidate or revise them to co-terminate. Simplification not only helps Channel Partners -- having this kind of info to offer their customers is a great way to re-engage with existing clients. It offers the customers a valuable service if their maintenance partners can anticipate and simplify their contract needs.
Unfortunately getting this info boiled down into clear recommendations isn't always easy. Too many companies are still relying on Excel sheets to track their warranty and service maintenance data and asking their sales teams to update them "as needed." This strategy leads to human error, forgotten updates by an already busy sales team, and no consistency around any of the customer information.
Some companies have moved beyond static spreadsheets and they are actively working to create their own in-house smart tools to manage the data. Creating your own proprietary software could be beneficial for overall operations but it can also be time-consuming, costly, and one more thing for your team to manage. Before you spend too many resources developing a new solution, it’s worth having your team take the time to discover what other tools already exist that may meet your needs.
Some may even offer or bundle extra services with their software solutions, extending the partnership value for your team even further. Gartner’s Cool Vendors in Service Channel Enablement, speaks to a list of enablement tools and the value they bring Channel Partners looking to grow their services, implement new offerings, develop larger channel opportunities, and create new margin opportunities for their business.
Exploring tools that have been created, tested, and adopted for the Channel and their end-users empowers your team to start getting the most value out of your data quickly and possibly at less overall cost than trying to build your own solution. Solutions like CloudCover are built with an open API allowing for easy integrations that scale with the tools your team is already using.
As resellers grow in size, finding and connecting customer contract and warranty data becomes even more complex. Identifying when a sale closed or when hardware shipped is simple but determining the next opportunity date on those pieces of equipment and the associated value is far more difficult. If a single sale involved multiple distributors, many sales representatives will abandon the effort due to the time-intensive research it takes to go through all the necessary data.
At the distributor and manufacturer levels, tracking customer contract data is also challenging, as these companies are two to three levels removed from the actual sale. Since manufacturers typically supply assets to distributors and distributors manage relationships with VARs, the volume of excessive data makes accurate tracking nearly impossible. Products can get registered incorrectly, leading to sizable gaps in manufacturer data. Manufacturers may know a product was sold, but they have no record of the end customer. Or they may know the end customer, but not which VAR sold the service.
The first step in addressing contract management challenges is understanding the scale of the problems your team faces. Once your team understands the variable complexities that need to be managed in your company and your customers’ maintenance contracts, it quickly becomes clear that static spreadsheets can only take you so far. Whether you decide to invest in building your own solution or explore existing tools, there are smarter ways to address your maintenance contract management.
Finding the right smart tool is key because no matter the circumstance, a lack of a comprehensive, consolidated view of contract data is a hindrance on scaling your current book of business.
Want to learn more? Access our latest report: Revenue Growth Opportunities for Channel Partners, below.
 Gartner, Cool Vendors in Service Channel Enablement, Christine Tenneson, Illona Hansen.