Guest Column | April 24, 2014

Four Ways VARs Can Better Address Service Renewals

Improve Service Renewals For VARs

By Kelly Crothers, VP of Marketing, MaintenanceNet, Inc. 

As a reseller, what’s keeping you from implementing a successful service renewal program with your customers? Most likely it’s a data issue — whether it's data that hasn’t been collected, data that’s not meaningful, data that’s trapped in an information silo or data that’s simply outdated. The reality is, keeping a handle on your customer data is the most important and time-efficient way to drive an effective service renewal initiative.

Why focus on service renewals? Because today, your customers will do what it takes to make their technology investments last longer, which opens the door for more service contract renewals to be sold. Your customers want to protect the products and services they’ve already purchased from you. As a VAR, your job is to help them do that with service contracts. It’s that simple.

One category of service renewals in particular — low-dollar service renewals — is where VARs are missing the mark and overlooking what could be a treasure trove of ongoing, revenue-generating opportunity. Often ignored because resellers just don’t want to expend the resources to identify and pursue them — thinking that sales time can be better spent on more high-value opportunities — these renewals also represent low-hanging fruit and can quickly add up.

Four Proven Ways To Address Service Revenue Data Issues

Forward-looking solution providers are just now starting to understand that better managing their data will enable them to save the time, costs and headaches associated with researching and pursuing low-dollar service renewals. If you’re ready to follow suit and unlock the key to more profitability with renewals, here are four quick ways to address the data issues that might be holding you back:

  • Improve Data Collection And Aggregation Practices: Make sure information silos aren’t keeping you from collecting and tracking the customer data that you need to fuel follow-on sales with your customers, whether it’s service renewal, upsell, or cross-sell opportunities. Also, integrate important customer information that exists across your data sources including order processing, CRM, and other platforms, and create a single system of record.
  • Cleanse And Enrich Data: Go through your data carefully and cleanse and enrich it with essential service contract information that might be missing, such as current customer contact data, product and service serial numbers, contract expiration dates.
  • Explore And Analyze: Next, have your data experts spend time uncovering and identifying upcoming low-dollar renewals and other opportunities that your sales team can take action on. Map out these opportunities quarter by quarter or month by month, whatever works best for your business. And once your data is properly assembled, make sure it’s presented in a convenient and centralized way — whether it’s a dashboard, a portal, or a mobile app. With effort spent on the front end organizing the data, you’ll not only be empowering your sales team to reach out to the right customers at the right time with the right offers, but you’ll also reduce the time and cost of sale.
  • Automate: Service renewals can number into the thousands each month. Nobody wants to address them with tedious, outdated, manual processes. Make it easy on your sales team and impress your customers at the same time by using best practices such as automated email campaigns to send out renewal notices. Add in the option for customers to purchase the renewal with a single click and you’ll see sales skyrocket.

Clearly, a lot goes into creating an effective service renewal program. The first and most important step is getting a handle on your customer data, and the truth is, if your data is in order, everything else will fall into place.

Kelly Crothers is vice president of marketing for MaintenanceNet, Inc., a provider of service annuity solutions. MaintenanceNet helps the world’s leading manufacturers and their channel partners expand the scope and success of their service sales initiatives. Crothers’ strategic marketing vision has guided the company since 2004.