Sales Order Management Software: When to Get Up & Running

Elizabeth Scolari
November 21, 2014

When wholesale brands and rep firms are in the process of considering sales order management software, there’s one question that inevitably gets raised. The product looks like it may be the right fit for us, but when’s the best time to get up and running? We’ve helped thousands of companies get started with order management software, and with each onboarding, we’ve learned something new along the way. While it doesn’t usually take long to get set up, we’ve found that the wholesalers who’ve ended up the most successful with order management have usually been those who planned ahead of any important events such as sales kick-off meetings or trade shows, giving themselves an implementation timeline of about 6 weeks.

Sales Order Management Implementation: Why 6 Weeks?

1. Your reps can practice to become expert users.

While your chosen sales order management software should obviously be easy and intuitive to use, an extra cushion of time will allow your reps (and back office team) to not just acclimate to this new way of doing things, but become total experts at it. We have witnessed reps become so adept at writing mobile sales orders that they can accept orders of any size, increasing their order volume and in turn, driving up their sales commission. By having your reps practice using the software at their field sales appointments, they’ll eventually have a set of best practices that they can share with everyone else on the team. By the time an important sales kickoff or trade show rolls around, your team will be pros when the stakes are at their highest.

2. You can optimize the organization of your product catalog for maximum usability.

There are many different ways to categorize your products in a sales order management app. We’ve seen companies choose to group their products based on overarching categories that make the most sense for their selling process - bucketing by product type or manufacturer. Taking the time to think about the best way to set up that catalog can result in a much more streamlined, easy user experience for your reps down the road. Furthermore, it gives your reps a chance to give you feedback, so you can make adjustments if necessary.

3. You may need time to gather data.

If you have all your product information ready, it’s possible to create a digital catalog and begin writing orders within minutes. Importing all that data into a sales order management app is generally very quick. However, if you need to take the time to gather those assets (product images, pricing, etc.) from different brands and product lines, it’s a good idea to give yourself plenty of room to prepare, so that the software vendor’s customer service team can help you organize the information.

4. It’s best to avoid any seasonal constraints.

Many companies decide to move forward with sales order management technology because of an upcoming important company-wide sales meeting or because they have a major need to increase the effectiveness of their reps and cut operational expenses during trade show season. While this seems like a great time to get started, a six week grace period long before the event will give you enough breathing room to get everything running smoothly while still allowing you to balance other event preparation work. In general, try to avoid periods when your resources are stretched the most. It’s also significant to note that many other companies are scrambling to onboard order management software before trade show season. Software providers are often overloaded at that time--especially their customer service teams. This is particularly significant for those organizations who require integration with existing software, like an ERP. In order to get an optimal training and onboarding experience, be sure to think ahead.   Sales order management software will allow you to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace by offering the best possible experience for your customers, shipping orders faster, shortening the cancellation window, reducing processing costs, and accelerating cash flow. Getting started early will give you enough wiggle room to get set up on your own or with the software provider’s customer success team. This time is also crucial to allowing your reps to develop their skills at using this new tool, so that they’re ready to dominate the trade show floor and take full advantage of the high selling season. Thinking about sales order management software but still not sure when to make the transition? Leave your questions in the comments below!