REVIEWER: Chris Fender, director of service sales at Westcon Group North America.

BACKGROUND: Comstor, a business unit of Westcon Group, is a dedicated value added distributor of Cisco networking, collaboration and data center solutions with a global network of specialty resellers. Comstor’s team creates programs and provides support to accelerate the business of its partners.

PLATFORMS: Windows XP.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In March 2010, Comstor embarked upon an initiative to expand its service contract business. With hundreds of thousands of products sold each month, executives believed that the potential existed to sell an equal number of service contracts attached to those products – a prospect that represented millions of dollars in additional revenues. Recognizing that success in service sales can only be realized by knowing which customers have purchased service contracts, when those contracts will be up for renewal, and which customers possess uncovered assets (products unprotected by service agreements), the company’s first priority became to gain a clear vision into the contract lifecycles that existed within its customer base. Comstor teamed with MaintenanceNet to undertake a major data mining and integration project, correlating its own data with manufacturer data to determine status on tens of thousands of service contracts. Then, with its data management requirements complete, it launched the Comstor Service Annuity Manager (CSAM) Powered by MaintenanceNet. The cloud platform, based on MaintenanceNet Service360, provides sales teams with dynamic visibility into service contract lifecycles, while also automating the renewal of service contracts to make it easier for Comstor’s customers (value added resellers) and the Cisco SMARTnet Services team to drive incremental revenue on service sales. Most importantly, the platform represents a way for Comstor to develop closer ties with its resellers and end customers, providing an easy-to-use conduit for ongoing contact across the supply chain.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Once relegated to stagnant Excel spreadsheets as their go-to technology tool for service contract sales, Comstor and its reseller partners now access CSAM. Users can take advantage of the system and its valuable data to track expiring service contracts and identify new service sales and technology refresh opportunities in an instant. The product provides automated, proactive email notifications in advance of expiring service contracts; reporting capabilities for tracking performance; and visibility into relationships across contracts, assets, partners and end customers for improved communication and management.

STRENGTHS: Service360 represented a powerful and refreshing new way to approach service contract management, particularly for our primary service offerings – Cisco SMARTnet services. Our teams are much more organized and can be much more proactive about the sales process. MaintenanceNet has done all the detailed data management work up front for us. It has harvested a veritable goldmine of business intelligence, which enables us to provide greater value to our clients while improving our overall service contract and technology refresh sales initiatives.

WEAKNESSES: Our goal from the beginning was to pull data from multiple data sources (originating from the manufacturer/supplier, the customer or Comstor), and then aggregate that data into a single, centralized platform that is easy to use and extendable out to our channel partners. We were thrilled that MaintenanceNet provided us a way to accomplish that goal. Today, our only complaint is that Service360 does not offer the capability for us to upload our own data. MaintenanceNet performs all of these updates for us, which is a way for them to ensure the highest levels of data quality and consistency.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Service360 stood out as a platform that could provide immediate benefits in terms of improved service revenues, improved service sales efficiency and more proactive sales processes. It is also unique in its ability to serve our entire reseller base with prequalified quotes and automated renewals, along with complete compatibility and integration with Cisco’s own quoting systems. This level of integration gives our resellers the confidence of knowing that their quotes are being validated and processed quickly and directly with the source – Cisco.

DELIVERABLES: Beyond allowing our entire supply chain to view service contract lifecycles and transact SMARTnet contracts quickly and effectively, Service360 also provides business intelligence reporting tools that facilitate a check and balance of Comstor’s internal systems against our suppliers, and allow us to produce complete, customized audits of assets sold. MaintenanceNet also designed the platform to be customizable to our business rules, which serves to streamline processes and further expedite sales.

VENDOR SUPPORT: From day one, MaintenanceNet has been dedicated to ensuring the success of CSAM. Their support teams have been extremely responsive. We consider MaintenanceNet to be an important partner in our success, and Service360 is truly a vital part of our business today.

 

DOCUMENTATION: Service360 is very intuitive and our sales teams and resellers have found it easy to use, without the need for any significant hands-on training. Everything that MaintenanceNet has provided has been very adequate in terms of supporting our needs and success with the platform.

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