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How Workflow Automation Can Shorten the B2B Sales Cycle

In general, the sales cycle for B2B offerings is significantly longer than it is for B2C. From initial contact through pitches to negotiations, there’s a lot that has to get done in order for a deal to close. Because there are already so many potential roadblocks in place, it’s important for a company to provide as much support as possible to their salespeople.

By providing all the support that’s needed, companies can ensure that they’re not causing any inefficiencies that make things even more challenging for their salespeople. While salespeople will still have to contend with challenges like making it clear why a specific offering is superior to that of a competitor, not having internal hurdles to overcome can provide a significant boost.

To ensure that there aren’t walls between sales and management which are hindering the ability of the former to make deals, let’s take a look at three ways workflow automation can be successfully used:

Provide Smart Deals

One of the reasons that it’s typical for B2B sales to take longer is because price is something that’s almost always negotiable. From more complex packages to higher volumes, buyers want to be sure that they’re getting the best deal for their money. Since a lot of back and forth is already going to accompany this process, companies don’t want to create even more of it for their salespeople.

Instead, eliminating the need for drawn out internal discussions can give salespeople the flexibility to push for a sale and successfully close. With an automated approval workflow, salespeople can have the confidence to strategically discount without worrying about offering something that is going to make their manager unhappy.

Process Special Requests

Price isn’t the only element of B2B negotiations that often requires approval. There are a wide range of things that may come up which will require a salesperson to seek approval from their manager. If you want to ensure that getting special requests approved doesn’t stand in the way of a deal, an automated workflow is essential.

Dynamic Management of Inventory

One big consideration for B2B buyers is how quickly a solution can be delivered. If two offerings share many of the same features but one provider is able to deliver significantly faster than the other, the buyer is probably going to err on the side of speed. Utilizing automation in regards to inventory can help a business be as aggressive as possible with their delivery timelines.

It’s worth noting that the type of automation discussed above can benefit a business in other ways as well. For example, purchasing managers can use purchasing software to streamline their purchasing process and increase the overall efficiency of everything related to procurement.

Contact us today for a Free Live Demo, or sign up for a Free 30 Day Trial and try out Bellwether Purchasing Software for yourself. No credit card needed.

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September 19, 2015
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BY Bellwether
What Procurement Can Learn from the Hotel Industry

The hotel industry has gone through some major changes in recent years. Not only has it had to adapt to the Internet, but it has also had to find ways to stay competitive in an environment with increasing pressure from sources other than traditional hotels.

Even though the changing landscape has presented very real challenges for hotels across the entire industry, the ones that have continued to thrive share some key characteristics. Specifically, the hotels that keep making progress are those that have embraced what technology can do for them.

Although it would be easy to only view technology in a negative light as a result of the additional competition it has created, savvy hotels have taken a different approach. Instead of trying to resist the major ripples created by technology, they’ve found the best ways to harness the technology that’s available.

Technology Can Play a Key Role in Procurement Growth and Efficiency

Since technology is having a major impact across most industries, those in procurement should take a cue from the hotel industry and take advantage of what’s available. Specifically, purchasing managers can gain a lot from using purchase order software. With help from purchasing software, procurement professionals will no longer need to stress over things like enforcing budget thresholds.

Instead, they’ll have the tools that are needed to make this process a breeze. The reality is that’s just one of numerous examples of the way that the right software can help optimize procurement activities. While this type of software is very powerful, what makes it especially compelling is that it can be used without the need for IT support. And to top things off, the cloud functionality of purchasing software means that data is easy to access, completely secure and backed up at all times.

An Important Takeaway for Salespeople and Customer Service

This isn’t an issue that’s only relevant to procurement. It’s also a topic that salespeople and customer service can learn from. For salespeople, the lesson is to keep an eye out for ways to make the lives of prospects easier. By actively looking for solutions instead of just trying to sell a product, salespeople can frame their offerings in a manner that is much more compelling to purchasing managers and other professionals within an organization.

The lesson for customer service is similar to that of salespeople. When someone calls a customer service representative, it’s generally because they have a problem that needs to be solved. Customer service professionals can get a leg up by always having their eyes open for the most efficient way to tackle problems. By being open to even better ways of doing things, members of the customer service team can make things easier for themselves and others.

Contact us today to learn more about how Bellwether Purchasing Software can assist your company in automating your purchasing processes. We offer a Free Live Demo and  Free 30 Day Trial, no credit card needed.

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September 18, 2015
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BY Bellwether
4 Tips for Avoiding Procurement Disasters

The last thing any purchasing manager wants is for procurement disasters to blow up to the point where it’s costing the company resources and time. Although small errors and miscommunication are part of doing business, you still want to prevent major misfires that have a significant negative impact.

Even though it can be stressful to think about everything that can go wrong with tasks like vendor negotiations, thinking through this process can be a very useful exercise. By taking the time to carefully think through the purchasing process, it becomes possible to identify areas where things can go wrong. Identifying potential pitfalls in advance makes it much easier to figure out the best way to deal with them.

So in the spirt of preventing problems that can lead to major purchasing issues, let’s take a look at four ways you can proactively prevent a very bad situation:

Always Get Everything in Writing

When you’re on the phone with a vendor and you have a dozen other things on your to-do list that need to get done by the end of the day, it’s easy to speed through the conversation and assume that everything is in order. However, unless you have the exact order you discussed in writing, there’s always the possibility of something going wrong. That’s why you can save yourself a lot of headaches by getting details in writing. Even if you’re quite busy at the time, taking this action will save you from complications down the line.

Have a Policy in Place for Disputes

In a perfect world, purchasing managers would be able to go about their job without ever worrying about disputes. But because we’re in the real world, it’s important to understand that disputes may arise. The best way to minimize the negative impact of a dispute is to have a clear policy in place for resolving it. You want to know ahead of time what actions should be taken. This possible complication also shows the importance of keeping detailed records.

Prevent Things from Being Done Twice

In terms of wasting time and resources, duplicated procurement efforts are definitely a problem. One of the best ways to avoid this issue is to centralize all procurement efforts. A proven way to make that happen is by taking advantage of purchasing software. Implementing purchasing software will make it much easier for you to stay on top of purchasing activity and prevent issues like duplication from arising.

Wasteful Purchases

Whether it’s done deliberately or accidentally, buying items that aren’t needed may not seem like that big of a deal. However, this is an issue that can snowball and become a very real problem. To prevent that from happening, purchasing managers can enforce budget thresholds via our purchasing software.

Bellwether Purchasing Software can help prevent these pitfalls. Contact us today for a Live Demo, or sign up for a FREE 30 Day Trial and see what our software can do for your company.

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September 13, 2015
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BY Bellwether
The Cloud is Having a Major Impact on Purchasing

Although cloud computing is a relatively new technology, it’s already had a major impact in a short amount of time. And based on market research and trends that impact will only continue to increase. Data shows that by 2020, over half of all IT infrastructure will be in the cloud.

Why has cloud computing taken off in such a big way? While there are multiple answers to that question, they all link back to the fact that the cloud provides a lot of value to businesses that use it. From securely sharing information to having access whenever it’s needed, the cloud provides what businesses need to be as efficient as possible.

Another big driver of the cloud’s success is the fact that it can be used across a wide range of business functions. One compelling example is how the cloud is impacting purchasing. To fully understand this impact, it’s helpful to take a look at the specific ways the cloud is reshaping procurement.

The Cloud Brings Simplicity

Although the underlying details of cloud computing are quite complex, the experience for users is simplified in the best way possible. Instead of getting stuck with software that’s out of date or never seems to work right, cloud purchasing software provides the functionality that purchasing managers and organizations need. Not only is this type of software comprehensive in what it does, but it’s also very easy to use.

An Easy Transition

In the past, companies that wanted to take advantage of new technology had to put together a detailed roadmap for exactly what IT needed to get done. And even with the best laid plans, there was always a chance of something going wrong with the transition. What’s truly amazing about cloud software is this type of process is no longer needed. In fact, purchasing managers can easily get started with cloud software and continue using it without the need for IT.

Take Full Advantage of Everything the Cloud Has to Offer

If you want to reap all the benefits that the cloud can provide for procurement, our purchase order software is the ideal solution. At Bellwether, we designed every component of our purchasing software with purchasing managers in mind. That means it’s able to help with everything from automating purchasing processes to putting an end to maverick spending.

Not only is our software designed to save money by increasing efficiency and taking control of spending, but it takes full advantage of the power of the cloud. As fully web-based software, approved users can access the system from anywhere. In addition to convenience, our software provides full peace of mind knowing that all company information is kept safe and securely backed up. Give us a try with our FREE 30 Day Trial, or contact us to schedule a Live Demo and see how our purchasing software can work for your company.

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September 6, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Optimal Procurement Means Greater Profitability

One of the reasons that procurement has moved into the corporate spotlight in recent years is because more organizations are realizing the direct impact it can have on profitability. Thanks to that direct impact, companies are putting a lot of focus on ensuring that the fundamentals of procurement are being handled in the best way possible. Although it’s frustrating for a company to learn that suboptimal procurement practices have been costing them money for an extended period of time, the upside is that once these issues are addressed, a business can get on the right track and stay there as they continue to move forward.

When a business starts looking into their existing approach to procurement, one question that often comes up is what fundamentals need to be in place in order for everything to operate as efficiently as possible. As we’ll see shortly, there are actually several answers to that question. The link that ties them all together is the need for them to be manageable and scalable. While best practices are important, they only have an impact when there is a reliable way to utilize them daily.

Purchasing Software is the Best Way to Optimize Procurement

Since most procurement departments can tell stories about things getting off track despite having strong guidelines in place, purchasing software is a welcome solution for small and mid-market businesses. What makes this kind of software so powerful is it can take the procurement practices your business wants to follow and ensure that they are in place on a daily basis. And because this type of software is so easy to use, your entire business will be able to enjoy both optimal procurement practices and maximum productivity.

Because this type of software has the ability to deliver very big benefits, many people want to know exactly what kind of features it offers. The first key feature is the ability to automate purchasing processes. Not only do customized work flows greatly increase efficiency, but they also eliminate the need for procurement departments to use large amounts of paper.

The second important feature of purchasing software is being able to set and actually enforce budget thresholds. Instead of constantly being distracted by maverick spending, purchasing managers using quality software can focus on the tasks that will have the biggest impact on their company’s bottom line.

Several other features worth mentioning are the ability to use this software without IT support, having access to historical data to leverage vendor pricing and excellent usability that makes it easy to get everyone within a company to start using the software. The combination of all these features is why purchasing software is a great fit for any company that wants to enable procurement to play a direct part in growth.To see all the features we just covered in action, be sure to head over to our Free Live Demo page or sign up for a 30 Day Free Trial– no credit card needed.

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August 22, 2015
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BY Bellwether
What Can Purchasing Pros Learn From Salespeople?

In the current business environment, purchasing professionals need to have a variety of skills. One set of skills that can greatly benefit these professionals is the ability to sell. While purchasing pros obviously have different job requirements than salespeople, there are definitely some skills that the former can learn from the latter. Here are the sales skills that individuals who do purchasing can benefit from utilizing:

Closing Deals

When a sales professional is interacting with a potential buyer, they’re not going to let the conversation drag on forever. Instead, sales pros know when it’s time to close the deal by asking for the sale. Although taking the initiative to close a deal can feel uncomfortable, it’s something that has to be done. So when someone in purchasing knows that an option is the best one to take, they should have the confidence to make that clear to all other parties that are involved.

Clearly Conveying Benefits

One of the traits that sets sales professionals apart from amateurs is that the former group focuses on the specific benefits that a product or service has to offer. While features are definitely important, benefits are what ultimately sways people to make a purchase. This lesson can be very beneficial to purchasing managers and team members who remember it. Whether it’s a fellow employee or another stakeholder, focusing on the benefits someone will receive can be useful in conversations ranging from specific purchases to why they should get on board with certain procedures.

Eliminating Discomfort from Discussions About Numbers

Numbers aren’t something that people always want to talk about. However, in order for a procurement professional to do the best job possible, they need to be able to negotiate prices. That reality is why those in purchasing should look to salespeople for guidance on how to best address the subject of numbers. Not only are great salespeople able to bring up the topic of numbers without making anyone uncomfortable, but they’re also able to frame them in a way that is beneficial to what they’re trying to accomplish.

Framing Conversations Around Value

This ties into the previous point about how salespeople are able to frame numbers in a way that is useful to what they want to accomplish. When a salesperson talks about what someone is going to get out of a product or service, they know the importance of communicating the direct value that individual is going to receive. While the subjects being discussed are going to differ, purchasing managers should take the same approach. By framing conversations around direct value, everything from vendor negotiations to enforcing budget thresholds becomes easier. The reason everything will become easier is because discussing value gives the other parties involved a clear reason to get on board with what a purchasing manager wants to do.

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August 22, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Procurement Fraud and Corruption – What You Need to Know

Of all the areas within a company that are susceptible to fraud or corruption, the supply chain is one of the most prominent. Whether it’s questionable rebates or potentially troublesome relationships with vendors, there’s no way to eliminate the possibility of these issues with 100% certainty. Companies that take a proactive stance on procurement fraud and corruption will be in the best position to deal with it.

Understanding the Dynamics of Fraud and Corruption

Although these words have very loaded meanings and either action can be very complex in the way that it’s carried out, the dynamics at the core of these issues are often surprisingly straightforward. In many cases, pressure, opportunity and rationalism are the only three factors that need to be present in a business environment for fraud to occur.

The easiest way to fully understand this issue is to look at a realistic example. Given that many companies are still facing various financial challenges, individuals may feel pressure to either deliver specific results for the organization or to secure their own financial well-being. Unless the right controls are already in place, it’s often surprisingly easy for people to carry out actions related to fraud or corruption.

And if someone is facing what they view as overwhelming or otherwise pressing circumstances, it’s very likely that it will be quite easy for them to rationalize their decisions. But just because someone feels that they have a justifiable reason for taking a specific action doesn’t mean that it will turn out okay for the company.

Reactions to Procurement Fraud and Corruption

In the event that fraud or corruption does occur within an organization, they have to decide how they’re going to respond. Unfortunately, many companies take a less than ideal approach upon discovering this type of problem. Even though this type of issue can cause major damage for a company’s reputation, many companies shield the responsible parties from any significant consequences. The big problem with that approach is it sends the wrong signal to the rest of the company.

Preventing Major Issues Related to Purchasing

While figuring out the best way to deal with the discovery of fraud or corruption can be a tricky issue, minimizing this risk doesn’t have to be complicated. Instead, there’s a fairly straightforward way to put the necessary controls in place to curb this kind of activity.

With purchasing software, things like poor record keeping that create an easy opportunity for fraud are eliminated. Because PO software centralizes all purchasing activity and offers controls for things like budget thresholds, it provides safeguards that simply aren’t possible with a manual purchasing system.

Not only can quality purchasing software minimize the risk of fraud, but all of its features will make this department far more efficient. Bellwether Purchasing Software offers this minimized risk of fraud as well as opportunities to increase efficiency within the purchasing department. Contact us today to learn more.

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August 4, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Purchasing Software Is No Longer Optional

While most companies have already realized the vital role of technology in procurement, a recent move by Cisco really drove this point home. Cisco announced that their former chief information officer was becoming their senior vice president of operations. And of her duties, Cisco’s supply chain is at the top of the list. Because of the sheer size of Cisco, this move really makes it clear just how crucial technology has become in regards to the supply chain and the role of purchase managers. That’s why over fifty percent of CPOs have clear plans to increase their investments in technology during 2015.

Getting Up to Speed on Procurement Technology

The point when technology started to become an essential part of purchasing can be traced back to about twenty years ago. Since then, the role of technology in procurement has grown on an often exponential basis. From budget tolerances to big data, technology has become indispensable for any company that cares at all about their purchasing process. Not only can technology make the process more effective, but it can also ensure that important tasks like compliance are properly managed.

Finance Departments Are Focusing on Technology

It wasn’t that long ago when many purchasing departments felt like they were a kind of island within their organization. But even though tight integration was rarely the norm, that tide has shifted. In recent years, departments like finance are working closely with purchase managers. They’ve  started to understand just how much purchasing automation can help move the needle for a company when this department is using the right kinds of purchasing software.

The Right Type of Purchasing Software for Small and Mid Market Businesses

Although it’s useful for smaller businesses to stay on top of the trends that are shaping the corporate landscape, the specific tools being used in a corporate environment may not be the optimal fit for a smaller organization. If you’re a purchasing manager for a small or mid market business, you need purchasing software that can adapt to the customized work flows you deal with on a regular basis.

In order to be effective, PO software needs to be easy to use. From vendor research to streamlining the approval process, this type of system only works when it makes employees lives easier. That’s why so many purchasing managers in small and mid market businesses love Bellwether Purchasing Software. Our software is packed with features to meet your purchasing automation needs. However, those features weren’t added just for the sake of having a long list of things to brag about.

Instead, Bellwether Purchasing Software was specifically built with small business and mid market purchasing managers in mind. This focus means the software is very intuitive to use and has all the features that managers need to fully optimize the purchasing process! Contact us today to learn how Bellwether Purchasing Software can help your company meet their purchasing goals or try our Live Demo.

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July 31, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Purchase Manager Skillsets to Focus on in 2015 and Beyond

It’s no secret that purchasing is going through some significant and rapid changes. While the changing landscape of purchase management is clear, what isn’t as evident is whether or not professionals are keeping up with skillsets needed to adapt to those changes. Given that as many as one-third of all professionals are involved in projects that are attempting to accomplish something that hasn’t been done before, it’s easy to understand why new additional skillsets are so important.

Taking a Critical Look

Ensuring that purchasing is ready to ride those changing tides starts by thoroughly evaluating talent capability. By taking the time to go through this type of assessment, it becomes possible to accurately determine if each stage is going to be deliverable. One reality that many organizations have to face as they grow is that the processes or people that got them to a certain stage may not be the right fit for getting to the next stage.

The Importance of Negotiation and Other Skills

Of all the skills that are viewed as vital to purchasing management but are most often lacking, negotiation is near the top of the list. That being said, due to changes within this field, it’s no longer the skill that’s at the very top. The new reality of purchasing means professionals need the right skills to handle a client-orientated approach, as well as have the ability to sell the function of procurement to other internal stakeholders.

So, how can department heads ensure that their team has the right skills? One option is to start at the top and ensure that the right skills are passed down. Another option is to look to outside sources for proven training. It’s also important that professionals at all levels are open to the increased usage of technology.

How to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Although all the change within this field may initially seem to paint a somewhat bleak outlook for purchase managers, that doesn’t need to be the case. On the contrary, professionals who stay abreast of changes and are willing to adapt should feel that there’s a lot to be excited about. Since technology is at the heart of what’s driving changes within purchasing, professionals can stay ahead of the curve by embracing the right type of purchasing software.

For purchasing managers who want to maximize the effectiveness of their purchasing process, Bellwether Purchasing Software is the optimal purchasing software to use. With a long list of features that range from customized work flows to enforcing budget thresholds, our purchasing software is specifically designed to ensure that procurement departments have everything they need to stay on top of changes. If you have any additional questions about how Bellwether Purchasing Software can keep your purchasing practices ahead of the curve, don’t hesitate to contact us and learn more about the benefits of our purchasing software or sign up for our Live Demo or FREE 30 Day Trial.

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July 31, 2015
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BY Bellwether
The Role of Purchasing Managers in 2015

While purchasing managers have always played an important role within in companies, there was a time when their role was not very visible. However, there has been a significant shift over the last few years. Because supply chains have become a focal point for businesses across numerous industries, purchasing managers are being tapped to create prominent strategies around cost-savings and realizing efficiencies.

Since purchasing is a core activity for businesses, managers need to view their department as part of the bigger whole. What this means is that purchasing managers not only need to understand the strategic and marketing goals that their company is pursuing, but they need to look for ways to proactively support those efforts.

Preventing Companies from Stagnating

Businesses frequently fall into the trap of sticking to the way that things have always been done. While there’s something to be said for not trying to fix things that aren’t broken, getting too comfortable with the status quo can have consequences down the line. Because this is a problem that plenty of companies have to face at some point, the good news is purchasing managers are in an ideal position to help avoid it.

When purchasing managers take the time to fully understand their company on a holistic level, they can start looking for areas that have the potential to be improved. By then looking into those areas and pursuing the right buy-ins from other departments, procurement has the ability to chart an ideal course for a company’s future.

How the Right Purchasing Software Can Help

Another way that purchasing managers can have a significant impact on their company is by finding the best ways to actually enforce the spending and budget policies that are in place. Although employees across various departments may not think that small overages are a big deal, those types of issues start to add up.

For small and mid-market companies, the best way to stay on top of this issue is by using Bellwether Purchasing Software. We specifically built our purchasing software for managers like you. As a result, it makes it easier than ever to take control of maverick spending and enforce approvals.

Another important aspect of our software is it doesn’t require IT resources. That means you’ll have a much easier time getting everyone on board with it. And once you make this transition, you’ll be in a position that allows you to automate purchasing processes and eliminate paper. The bottom line for you and your company is this increased efficiency will enable you to save time and money.

For more details about how Bellwether Purchasing Software can help your entire company, please contact us.

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July 4, 2015
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BY Bellwether
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