Neil Robertson Nov 30, 2020 12:24:00 PM 12 min read

Saving your customers money: top tips for ERP & accounting resellers

If you’re selling ERP and/or accounting software, you’ll no doubt appreciate that right now many are reluctant to invest in any new solutions.

 

Budgets are tight, prioritise are elsewhere — conserving cash, controlling spend and increasing productivity — and many are working from home.

Your customers might be in the same boat. 

Times are changing, and this means that your approach to helping your customers and selling ERP and/or accounting software needs to change, too.

The positioning of what you offer now needs to be about helping your customers to solve these three main challenges (conserving cash, controlling spend and increasing productivity) and also help you to grow your recurring revenue stream in the short and long term.

In this blog, we’re going to share several tips to help you, as an ERP and accounting software reseller, to assess the needs of your customers, provide solutions that help them to navigate the effects of COVID-19, and put you in an excellent position financially.

 

Tip #1: Acquire an ERP/accounting add-on that allows your customers to buy online

One of the easiest ways to help your customers right now is to help them reduce the costs of what they already buy — and the best way to do so is to enable them to buy online.

If your customers are using archaic purchasing processes — i.e. buying goods and services from suppliers based on what they see in a brochure — they’re most likely paying more than they need to, precisely because there’s no way for them to readily compare product prices from other suppliers.

But that’s not the only problem: if your customers are doing their purchasing manually, it means that every request to buy has to be entered into their ERP/accounting system by hand. This means the accounts payable team spends more time managing purchases than they do the business’s finances. 

Lastly, if your customers are buying hundreds of low-value items from several suppliers, every item and supplier needs to be accounted for, and the suppliers themselves need to be added to the accounting/ERP system to make any future purchases seamless. It’s a massive undertaking.

With integrated online buying, however, the entire process can be streamlined and parts of it automated. For example, using integrated online buying, your customers have access to marketplaces like Amazon Business (which can reduce their costs by 32%) where they can easily find and purchase the goods and services they need at the best prices. They can easily compare products and check reviews and, when they are ready, the purchase order is synchronised with their accounting/ERP system because the online buying element is seamlessly integrated. 

From there, the accounts payable department (or whoever is responsible for purchase order approvals) can either approve or deny the request to buy. The supplier is also automatically added to the accounting/ERP system the moment the order is made, with the order itself (and the relevant invoice) associated with that supplier for everyone to see. 

Online buying transforms your customers’ purchasing process in that it gives them complete control over spending — including what’s bought, where and when. Your customers can even review spend against committed spend to ensure they never go over budget. Also, with a complete end-to-end view of online buying, your customers can identify what goods/services cost the most and for which department(s) in the business. They can then start to optimise their costs by finding cheaper alternatives through online marketplaces. 

 

Tip #2: Help your customers to automate their purchase order process

If your customers are managing their purchase order process manually, they’re losing both time and money. You need to sell an ERP/accounting software solution that makes it fast and simple for them. 

Right now, many businesses (and perhaps many of your customers) are backed up with invoices, purchase orders, supplier payments and other financial commitments because of COVID-19. Also, with many working from home, it’s taking much longer to complete these activities (especially for those with manual processes).

But with the appropriate tools in place to automate purchase orders, supplier payments and other financial commitments, the time saved (which can be a 65-90% reduction) can be used on other activities. This is, essentially, purchase-to-pay (P2P) automation, and it’s never been more essential to businesses.

If you can provide your customers with a solution that automatically approves/denies purchase orders (from anywhere and any device), pays suppliers (on time) and balances their financial commitments based on committed spend, they’ll not only have more time, money and human resources, they’ll love you for it. 

The technology exists and it’s something that you can provide today at very little cost to your business. 

 

Tip #3: Provide some kind of cost/spend analysis to your customers

The ability to quickly and easily compile and analyse spend data is something that small and medium-sized businesses have desired for decades. It’s only recently that those selling ERP/accounting software have been able to offer it to their customers. 

Historically, the ability to analyse spend data at scale was unique to large businesses as they had the resources — people, money and technology — to undertake the process of getting the data from every single invoice. For everyone else, it was far too costly and time-consuming.

However, thanks to automation, machine learning and digital invoice capture technologies, it’s possible for businesses of all sizes (including your customers) to achieve granular spend analysis. 

Digital invoice capture allows your customers to instantly pull the most pertinent information from invoices (which are predominantly received as PDFs) and store it in their ERP/accounting software. All data is included — critically invoice header and line-level information — so that precise spend analysis can take place. With this information at your customers’ disposal, they can evaluate spend across all business categories to understand where savings can be made. 

Once they have identified the savings, the next step is achieving them — you can then offer them cost optimisation services/consultancy to help them reduce costs across spend categories (a good plug for your online buying offering) so they can do more with their money. 

This is a very simple activity that adds a lot of value and opens up possibilities for your customers, particularly for those that want to save more on what they already buy, but don’t know where to begin. 

You can find out more about it here.

 

Tip #4: Give them control over all spending

Last but not least, give your customers complete, end-to-end control over spending. For them to save more money, they must be able to see when money is spent, where and why. It also needs to be centralised — if everyone has a licence to purchase and doesn’t need approval, things will quickly spiral out of control. 

P2P automation solves these problems by centralising purchasing and spending. All purchase orders can be seen by the accounts payable team (along with what’s being spent on what and by whom) and orders can be referenced against committed spend to see if there’s budget available.

Purchase order approvals can be undertaken online from any device, anywhere, enabling your AP team to work remotely and efficiently. These approvals can be assigned to the appropriate members of staff and the rest of the process automated for the most streamlined purchase order process. 

Read how accounts payable automation and spend analytics can save you (and your  customers) money.

 

It’s time to increase your sales and empower your customers 

Ultimately, you need to rethink your proposition and tailor it to the current needs of the market. You’re selling ERP/accounting software solutions, but are they prepared for the world of work today? Realistically, it’s likely that WFH will continue for some time and the future is undoubtedly digital, so modify your offerings to suit! 

As well as looking at the ERP/accounting software you’re selling, many of your customers will want resilient tools/technology to help them weather the storm. They will need to understand what’s available, how much it costs and if it will save them money in the future. 

So how can you best address the needs of your customers, develop an offering/proposition that helps them to weather the storm and transform their businesses, and increase your sales during this period? 

Just download our eBook, How ERP and accounting resellers can increase sales during & beyond COVID-19, and find out! Click the button below.

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Neil Robertson

Neil has a 39-year track record of building successful direct and channel global software businesses predominately in the financial software market place. Neil Robertson is Executive Chairman of Compleat Software. A 39-year veteran of the financial software marketplace, Neil has a long track record of building disruptive start-ups into successful businesses, including his time as CEO EMEA of Great Plains where he built the business outside of the USA from 1995 - 2001. Compleat is no exception and perhaps the most disruptive of them all.