In today’s high-tech world, companies of all sizes are still tracking their important data via spreadsheets. It’s no secret that manually manipulating spreadsheet data creates inaccuracies that can rapidly spiral out of control. Internal and external users are showing a preference for managing their data via a web-based tool.
Recently, I had a hardware client who called an audible and requested shifting to a web-based tool. They expressed a need for up-to-date information at their fingertips. Their wish list included an end-of-life SKU lookup tool that their internal sales, marketing staff and distributor teams could access, rather than tracking information and data in a spreadsheet. They needed the lookup tool to easily track their product inventory life cycles so internal, partner, and distributor sales teams could proactively solicit their customers to upgrade various hardware and related support before the product retired. After requirements gathering, our team designed and developed the tool to either look up one SKU at a time or upload multiple SKUs to obtain information. With this new tool, users can now share their customer lists and set up end-of-life date interval alerts for 90, 60, and 30 days, plus the retirement day. The SKU lists are updated nightly by transferring data through a feed to the tool.
In my former life as a sales professional, a tool like this would have been so valued and seen widespread adoption. However, even when working at a Fortune 500 company, we tracked end-of-life SKUs via spreadsheet. When relying upon this information, we hoped it was up to-date and that we had our hands on the right document. If for some reason updates weren’t being sent, we would use potentially old data as sales aids. Searching and scrutinizing the spreadsheets one by one for each SKU of interest was a manual process at a whole new level of tedium.
Our new, web-based tool has been highly beneficial for my client users, who average access lookups once a week. The value of the tool speaks for itself — 150 individuals are using the new tool, month over month. They’re now able to report on the most relevant and valuable SKUs to users weekly or monthly. This report also allows my hardware client to strategize with their partners on how best to approach each customer about updating their hardware. Since the launch, we’ve seen an increase not only in partner and distributor participation, but also with internal sales teams exploiting this data.
With manual motions in the rearview mirror, enabling faster information gathering means that my client’s sales teams can better focus on their main goal — filling their customers’ product orders in a more expedient, efficient fashion.