15 Nov Building your install base: Assets
by Erich Rusch
As an organization grows, one of the most important problems is keeping track of not only what I sold but what I promised to my customers from a service and maintenance perspective when I sold that initial deal. This is incredibly important to serve your customers and keep them happy properly. This may seem obvious or straightforward, but when operating in a large enterprise organization where your customers have thousands or even millions of your products installed, it can get complicated very quickly. Often, your customer may not even know! This is especially true in cases where many different subsidiaries of your larger customers are purchasing directly from your organization or purchasing to distribute among many sites across the globe. In this article, we’re going to focus on a specific type of record known as the asset. An asset is a key object that helps you understand what you’ve sold to your customers and what maintenance and support they are entitled.
What is an asset?
There are two ways that a customer install base is stored: the asset or subscription. Initially, CRMs used the concept of a one-time transaction exclusively, but in the modern era of subscriptions, we needed more information and a different data structure to represent the information. The asset is traditionally a record of a purchase that is a perpetual license to software with no ongoing subscription fees, machine, or leased product that requires a serial number for entitlement purposes.
What is the difference between an asset and a subscription?
As your customer purchases from your organization, the most common use case of quoting software is a quote gets converted to an order, and concurrently, we separate the two types of products into their proper records. Subscriptions will be stored with start and end dates, quantities, associated products, licensing keys, or backend identifiers. Assets will be stored with serial numbers or unique backend identifiers, product codes, site information (if physically installed), and associated with subscriptions if there are relevant warranties, maintenance, or support contracts.
What can an asset do for you?
One of the key benefits of having a robust installed base in your front office is that you can view all of the relevant assets and entitlement information and integrate that into all functions of your organization. When a support request comes into your organization through phone, email, or the web, you can leverage Salesforce or Oracle to integrate data to instantly identify what that customer is entitled to based on the product they are calling about and what they are entitled to based on the data on the asset record. You also can quickly identify replacement parts, upgradeable products, and so much more. With all this information at your fingertips, you’re able to quickly determine how to support your customers no matter what issues they’re experiencing.
Simplus has had a tremendous amount of experience in helping customers gain control over their install base. In fact, at a prominent Silicon Valley high tech company that Simplus worked with to deploy CPQ, there was little information in their install base about what each customer and asset was entitled to based on their initial sale. Any time that a customer called in for support, customer service representatives essentially had to make an educated guess about what support level the customer was entitled. After deploying CPQ and rebuilding their install base in Salesforce, each customer service rep was empowered with the knowledge of the proper level of support.
In part four of our series, we’ll delve into subscriptions and learn about how this unique object can help your business launch the recurring revenue model of the future!
Erich Rusch is Director of CPQ Presales Solutions at Simplus. Co-founder and CSO of CirrusOne until joining Simplus, Erich has years of experience in the CPQ space and has an unparalleled expertise in cloud solutions.