Q. How do you make it easy for your sales team to correctly specify and sell 3,500 related products and options?
A. Ask us to write you a sales configurator!
A Swiss army knife for sales...
If you're a very big software company, you'll probably have a very complex product line.
That can make it difficult for salespeople to sell the right packages to customers, even when you have just what they need.
We knew someone with a problem like this, and we were asked to help.
Our solution gave competitive advantage to both the in-house sales staff and the company's channel partners.
To begin at the beginning...
PC networks have been around for a long time. Twenty years ago, ARCserve, created by New York-based Cheyenne Software, was the industry-leading backup product for protecting server data on PC networks.
Cheyenne grew rapidly as a consequence, eventually being bought by industry giant Computer Associates (CA), then renown for its software for much bigger mainframe systems.
At the time of the acquisition, CA was the second largest software company in the world (only Microsoft was bigger).
In the new millennium, CA expanded the ARCserve product line considerably. The family grew to include protection for bigger and more complex, heterogenous networks, and was integrated with CA's anti-virus products, to meet increasingly sophisticated, internet-based, security threats.
Spoiled for choice
At the point Bristol IT Company became involved, the product range comprised around 3,500 different SKUs covering all the necessary licence combinations and add-on modules.
The complexity was necessary: ARCserve solved complex problems for customers, but this also made it difficult for CA's in-house sales force and its channel partners, as not every salesperson–nor even every technical salesperson–knew the product range really well.
It wasn't easy to quickly specify exactly to customer requirements, and changing quotations at short notice could also be challenging.
A Swiss army knife for sales
Our experience in the new field of on-line sales tools was just what CA needed. We developed a "configuration wizard," which gave them the channel competitive advantage they wanted. Small enough to be emailed to staff at remote sites, the "Configurator" allowed quotes to be assembled accurately and quickly, whilst the salesperson was actually meeting with the customer on-site.
It allowed the sales staff to include competitive discounts as necessary, and even to take account of software licenses already owned by the customer. For the first time it became easy for salespeople to offer fully-costed options to customers, giving them clear choices, cost savings and better strategic purchasing.
In a market where brand loyalty was extremely high, this enabled CA's salesforce to win customers away from other backup products.
How it evolved
The project was piloted in the EMEA region, localised into five languages ("EFIGS").
The next development was released to North and Latin America, with the potential to be globally localised, using all Windows-supported languages and character sets.
Product and price list updates were automatically pushed to users over the web from our Bristol servers, exactly synchronised with the changes CA made to its corporate price list in Islandia, New York.
The product continued to have a small footprint however, and didn't need online access in use—a critical matter when sales staff were at customer sites.
How could that help me?
We think the Configurator is a good example of how product development and complex database applications have been at the core of our business since we started.
The developers who exceeded CA's expectations then are still with Bristol IT Company now. They are still developing applications that give competitive advantage to our current clients, and they can do so to meet your needs, too.
We excel at moulding information technology to fit real-world business problems—we're definitely not just another IT helpdesk!
Note: Since 2014, ARCserve has been independently owned by ARCserve (USA) LLC of Minnesota. We no longer have any involvement with the product line. Shame really...