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Is Moving to the Cloud the Right Step for Businesses?

Even though it has many common characteristics of a buzzword, the cloud has proven itself to be a lasting shift across the business landscape. As costs continue to come down and options mature in the functionality they provide, businesses continue to shift their operations to cloud platforms.

If your company is exploring different cloud opportunities, we have several important considerations to share with you:

Staying Agile

There’s a lot to be said for businesses that are able to maintain agile operations. Even as a business grows, staying agile can provide a significant competitive advantage. One big selling point of the cloud is it supports an agile approach to doing business. Because the cloud makes it possible to keep information shared and updated across an entire organization, it’s possible to avoid the types of communication barriers that can start to slow down a business as it grows in size.

Falling Costs and Increasing Functionality

A big part of why so many businesses choose to move forward with their transition to the cloud is because the numbers make so much sense. As competition continues to increase among cloud vendors, prices continue to be pushed down. The attractive pricing options for cloud technology makes it all that much easier for businesses to transition. What’s really great for businesses that want to use cloud technology is the increasing competition also means vendors are providing as many useful features as possible.

Focused Solutions

One thing that often gets overlooked in discussions about businesses and the cloud is this transition doesn’t have to be an all or nothing choice. Instead, businesses can take advantage of focused offerings to move the parts of their operations that make sense to the cloud.

Although there are exceptions, this type of targeted transition is generally the best option for the majority of small to medium businesses. The reason this approach works so well is it allows businesses to take advantage of the best cloud technologies that are available without facing any type of large technical hurdles.

A great example of a piece of focused cloud technology that can greatly benefit businesses is purchasing software. Because the purchase order software offered by Bellwether is 100% web-based, it’s easy to access from anywhere. Not only is this software specifically designed to give purchasing managers everything they need to be as efficient as possible, but it makes it possible to customize to specific needs.

From easily automating purchasing processes to enforcing budget thresholds, our cloud software is the top choice of small and mid market purchasing managers. Best of all, the fact that it’s based in the cloud means that it doesn’t require IT support. If you want to see exactly how our cloud solution can help your business save money through increased efficiency, we encourage you to take advantage of our 30 day free trial or let us walk you through a free live demo.

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September 21, 2015
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BY Bellwether
Becoming a Better Purchasing Manager in 2015

Although the summer is already behind us, there’s still a good amount of time left in 2015. If you want to make most of the remaining months of this year, one thing to focus on is becoming the best purchasing manager possible. Because this is a role that continues to receive more attention and responsibility, you may already be feeling a substantial amount of pressure.

While there are times when pressure becomes too much, it’s something that can also be very motivating. If the amount of pressure you’re experiencing is motivating you to become the best purchasing manager you can be, we have a handful of tips that can help you work towards that goal.

Keep Things in Perspective

Even though it may sound like New Age advice, keeping the various professional obstacles you encounter in perspective can truly help your performance. Staying focused on what matters the most and finding small but meaningful ways to improve will add up to a significant change.

Stay on Top of Changes

Technology means that changes and developments across industries are moving faster than ever before. As a result, purchasing managers can benefit from carving out time each week to keep up with new issues and trends. Consistently doing this will give you a strong, strategic understanding of where your company is moving.

Make Diverse Interactions a Priority

Just as staying on top of what’s changing can be very beneficial, getting different inputs on what people truly want from procurement can help you focus your attention on the right tasks. That’s why it’s worth making a concerted effort to regularly speak with a diverse spectrum of professionals both inside and outside of the company.

Use the Best Tools Possible

If you put the three items we covered above into action, you will see a boost in your performance as a purchasing manager. But if you want to perform at your absolute best, there is one more key step that you need to take. That step is to take advantage of everything that quality purchasing software has to offer.

The reason that purchase order software can revolutionize your performance as a purchasing manager is it provides all the functionality that’s needed to supercharge procurement. Specifically, you’ll be able to easily automate any purchasing process that you want. This in turn will help eliminate the need for paper.

Instead of feeling basically helpless in regards to budget thresholds, using software means that you will have the ability to enforce approvals and put an end to maverick spending. All of this streamlining and enforcement will save you a ton of time every single week.

What’s even better is you can reap all the benefits of this type of software without needing IT support. And to top things off, you’ll be able to leverage vendor pricing through the use of historical data. The ability of our software to help purchasing managers be the best at what they do is why over 1,000 professionals like you have given it a top usability rating.

Contact us for a Free Live Demo, or use our 30 Day Free Trial to see how Bellwether Purchasing Software can streamline your workflow.

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September 20, 2015
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BY Bellwether
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
How Important is Procurement for Business Growth?

The simple answer to the question posed by the title of this post is very important. The more detailed answer is it’s one of four main areas of a business that can help drive growth. To fully understand the role that procurement can play in growth, we’re going to start by looking at the other three areas, and then dive into exactly what can be done within procurement to help a business grow.

Streamline Operations

Because operations generally make up a significant portion of a business, there are lots of areas for improvement. It’s common for various gaps and inefficiencies to come up as a business expands. By first identifying those shortcomings and then finding ways to eliminate them, the operations of a business can be streamlined in a way that will put it in the right position to grow.

Create a Sales System

When a business is just getting off the ground, it’s standard for the sales team to rely on best practices. While taking that approach can secure some early wins, really nailing down sales is often a process of trial and error. The need for trying different things is why many businesses keep a fairly loose sales process. Although that can work for awhile, it eventually leads to a bottleneck.

In order to move past that bottleneck, it’s important for businesses to take what they’ve learned about effective sales and put an actual system in place. Taking the time to put this kind of system in place will not only benefit the existing sales team, but it will also support growth by making it easy to bring on new sales talent in the most efficient way possible.

Focus and Scale Marketing

In most cases, marketing follows a similar path to sales. After a period of figuring out what works, marketing is usually able to hit its stride. But in order to really drive growth, marketing needs to take its efforts to the next level by mapping out what’s going to be done over the next year. By thinking in terms of quarters instead of weekly or monthly campaigns, marketing can reach the point where it’s able to drive significant growth.

Simplify and Empower Purchasing

Now that we’ve covered the other three areas of a business that can drive growth, we want to take a look at how procurement can do so as well. When done in the most efficient way possible, procurement can help a business maintain an optimal budget. To make this happen, purchasing managers need the right tools. By taking advantage of cloud purchasing software, purchasing managers can ensure that everything from streamlining purchasing process to enforcing budget thresholds is within their control.

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September 10, 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
How Salespeople Can Find More Success with Purchasing Managers

Our purchasing software is designed to make purchasing managers more effective. That’s why many of our blog posts focus on sharing tips that can empower purchasing managers to reduce their stress and be even better at what they do. While we generally write with purchasing managers as our target audience, we thought it would be interesting to shake things up and write a post that’s targeted at a different audience.

Specifically, we want to talk to salespeople about what they can do to find more success with purchasing managers. We’re well aware that purchasing managers are often perceived as cutthroat buyers who only care about price. We also know that salespeople may view some purchasing managers as an impenetrable fortress. Although there can be some truth to those stereotypes, it’s important for salespeople to put themselves in the shoes of a purchasing manager.

In a typical small to medium business, a purchasing manager is going to be juggling numerous tasks every single day. Because purchasing managers already have so much on their plate, a salesperson who shows up out of the blue and starts aggressively pitching is probably going to be viewed as unwanted distraction.

If you want to connect with purchasing managers in a way that will lead to more positive interactions, here’s what you can do as a salesperson to find success:

Start By Building Rapport

Purchasing managers are often under a lot of pressure from their organizations. In many cases, what’s viewed as “unreasonable” by salespeople is simply purchasing managers following what’s expected of them as they make buying decisions. This is why it’s important for salespeople to take the time to build rapport with purchasing managers. By doing so, they can understand what a purchasing manager truly needs, and then frame their pitch in a way that addresses the need.

Understand the Perception of Price

The reason so many purchasing managers are viewed as extremely price sensitive is because it’s their job to do things that way. Although that’s not something that’s going to change anytime soon, it doesn’t have to create an impossible roadblock. Instead, it’s something that salespeople can address by focusing on the value provided by what they’re selling. By being able to clearly sell the benefits of a product, a salesperson can find more success by changing the perception of price.

Be Sincere

Just as salespeople often stereotype purchasing managers as cutthroat buyers, plenty of purchasing managers stereotype salespeople as being insincere. The main reason many purchasing managers feel that way is because they’ve had interactions with salespeople who aren’t sincere. So if you want to break that stereotype and build the type of trust that’s needed to close a sale, it’s important to find opportunities to show that you care about what you do and always try to approach interactions in a genuine way.

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September 2, 2015
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BY Bellwether

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