Is now the time for mobile sales in your manufacturing business?


Process improvement – process improvement – process improvement


As a manufacturing company process improvement is your credo. Process improvement is your mantra. Your DNA. It’s what you preach to your supervisors. It’s what you ingrain in the minds of your new hires. Process improvement informs everything you do in your work – and in manufacturing companies, process improvement informs everything from research and development to quality control to production planning, to packaging, shipping, receiving, and so on.  But what about mobile sales in your manufacturing business?  That could be a process worth re-evaluating.

Technology has given shape to most of the great process improvements in manufacturing business over the last 30 years. The great desktop PC era has revolutionized the way we work in business in almost every conceivable way all across your business from purchasing to materials planning to warehouse management, customer service and accounting. Paper-based and manual processes have been identified and targeted for replacement. Replaced by technology tools such as keyboards, monitors, printers, and scanners – to drive information and communication faster across your enterprise. The reason you’ve done so? To create a better experience for the user, to save time (aka labor cost), to accelerate your supply chain, and to improve overall communications. Quite simply – you made these changes in order to make your business better.

Yet, perhaps ironically, there is one group of workers inside most manufacturing companies whose jobs have not been impacted much at all by technology and process improvement over the last 30 years, and that is the outside sales rep. How can that be? The group of people most responsible for generating revenue growth, and most able to convey directly to your customers the experience of doing business with you – yes, that group – is by and large stuck using the same tools and following the same processes for the last 30 years.

A great many sales processes are built around:

  • Printed product catalogs
  • Price books
  • Spec sheets
  • Order forms
  • Phone calls back to the office
  • Email

These sales reps have little or no visibility to customer status, product pricing, ability to promise, cross sell suggestions. Whether the sales rep is onsite with the customer or prospect, at a special event, staffing a tradeshow, or roaming a showroom floor, the chances are they have a smart phone in their pocket – but the chances are almost as great that the smart phone will NOT have intelligence to help them close business or otherwise assist the customer. Smart phone and tablet technology is available now that can provide sales reps with far more meaningful interactions with customers.

Sales apps that are connected with your Sage ERP and CRM systems abound. The key is finding the right level of enablement for you and your sales team. As a manufacturing company this should be easily enough done because it’s all about making the selling process – the experience your customer has doing business with you – a faster, better informed and more complete experience. And that is exactly what you should expect to accomplish for your sales team.

xkzero specializes in Sage ERP integrated mobile sales, route sales, and direct store delivery automation for small and midsized manufacturers and wholesale distribution companies.



The Plight of the Modern Customer Service Manager



Mobile help for customer service!

Mobile help for customer service!

Your hands are full

This is probably not news to you, but as a modern customer service manager you have your hands full! And that is mainly because your customers are now literally all over the place.

They are all over the place in terms of what they expect from you as a seller of goods and services. They are all over the place in terms of how they expect to interact with you. In terms of how they expect to place orders. In terms of how they inquire about their orders, or about the availability of product in your warehouse. Your customers are all over the place in terms of how they expect to pay you. All over the place in terms of the availability of intelligence for you to gather and discern. All over the place in terms of what it takes for you to earn their loyalty.

Yes, that is a lot to lay on you, as if managing customer service was not already challenging enough.

Because customer needs rule

But here is the good news—all of this customer expectation spells opportunity for you. That is because the winners in your industry today are the ones ready, willing and able to meet, greet and serve the customer wherever they are and whenever they’re ready to interact with you.

Your day is obviously filled with activities focused on what makes your most valuable to your company—building relationships, identifying customer needs, gathering intelligence, resolving issues, and representing your company These are all critical activities to the overall success of the business and building and maintaining brand loyalty.

However, what the customer expects from you, and when, has changed dramatically. Today’s customer wants and needs to interact with you on THEIR terms, not yours. Are you ready to meet them where they are? One way to get a sense of readiness is to take an inventory of your sales processes, technology and tools.

What your sales tools say about your business

What is the experience of doing business with you like today? Are you about to accommodate the wide range of buying expectations?

What possible ways can your customer interact with you when it comes to things like requesting a quote, placing an order, checking on inventory or shipment status? What means do they have to place an order with you?

  • Fax machine?
  • Telephone?
  • Customer service counter?
  • E-commerce website?
  • Customer portal?
  • Mobile app?

Our experience tells us that many of you reading this are still offering a sales channel built around the first three on the list—fax, phone and personal visit. While that may seem sufficient for you today, you may ask yourself about what your industry, and your place in it, will look like 2, 3 or 5 years from now. If competitors enter your space, do you think those new Millennial businesses will ask their customers to fax in orders? I don’t think so.

The smartphone is a profit machine

Have you noticed the communication tendencies of the new generation of workers? Their use of the telephone is a fraction of that compared to earlier generations. The modern workforce is far more inclined to interact with you online, often via an app on their smartphone or tablet.

I mentioned in an earlier paragraph that all of this is good news. And I believe it is good news. If you explore the marketplace you’ll see multiple options to connect E-commerce sites, customer portals and mobile sales apps with your back office ERP/accounting system.

Obviously you want to offer your customers access to you in ways that help you win more business and even more loyalty. So make sure your communication choices are reliable, dependable and supportable for you and your business. You just might find that you can do without that fax machine.


xkzero specializes in mobile sales, route sales and direct store delivery automation for small and mid-sized manufacturers and wholesale distribution companies. xkzero is also a certified developer for Sage X3, Sage 100 and Sage 500, creating integrated and embedded mobile solutions into some of North America’s most popular and powerful ERP and accounting systems for the mid-market.


Mobile B2B Sales: A Practical Guide for Sales Reps

Mobile automation is the new standard for B2B sales

Mobile automation is the new standard for B2B sales


The mobile sales app for B2B represents the new standard for growing small and mid-sized businesses. It may be the greatest thing to happen for manufacturing and wholesale distribution sales reps since the invention of the printing press. Few technologies for business have the far-reaching impact on the quality of your work and your company’s bottom line of a mobile sales app.

If your company has outside sales reps, or sells at trade shows, on a showroom floor, from special events or on-site with a customer, for you, the era of the printed product catalog, the paper order form, and the fax machine is over. The integrated smart phone and tablet era is now. xkzero has summarized some important considerations for you here.


The impact of having everything you need in your pocket

Off you go to your prospect meeting. Off you go to the trade show. Off you go for another day on the showroom floor. Off you go, back to your hotel room. Off you go, equipped with a product catalog printed 9 months ago, a price list printed 6 weeks ago. Hoping the fax machine doesn’t get jammed when you send in your order. Hoping that a customer service rep is ready when you call to find out the status of the inventory you’d like to sell.

The new standard for B2B selling is the smart phone. It’s replaced the fax, the printed materials, and antiquated processes that hold back a business today.

How you will benefit from a mobile sales app as a salesperson:

  • You’ll be better prepared with fingertip access to up-to-the-moment customer and inventory data.
  • Customers and prospects will sense your increased confidence.
  • You’ll have the chance to close larger deals.
  • You’ll be able to complete high transaction volume sales more quickly.
  • You might not ever be late for a meeting again.

The price of not doing anything

Over 90 percent of the mobile sales automation projects xkzero has implemented over the past several years have been for companies that previously relied on the tools and processes of yesterday—printed product catalogs, paper order forms, and fax machines. For many of these businesses, sales reps had to call customer service for the status of anything customer or inventory related. Representing the entire spectrum of manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries, they have one thing in common. Once they switch from paper and manual processes to an automated mobile solution—they don’t change back.

More practical guides – Mobile B2B Sales: A Practical Guide for Executives

Ready to talk about charting a mobile sales strategy for your business? Contact us at or call 847-416-2009.  Visit the xkzero website to learn more about our winning solutions.


Mobile B2B Sales: A Practical Guide for Executives



Mobile sales apps for B2B represent the new standard for growing small and mid-sized businesses. In fact, mobile B2B sales may be the greatest thing to happen for manufacturing and wholesale distributor sales reps since the invention of the printing press. There are very few technologies you can add to your business today that will have as far reaching effect on the quality of your work, and the bottom line of your business as a mobile sales app.

The new standard for B2B sales is mobile

The new standard for B2B sales is mobile

If your company has outside sales reps, or sells at trade shows, on a showroom floor, from special events or on-site with a customer –for you, the era of the printed product catalog, the paper order form, and the fax machine – is over.

The integrated smart phone and tablet era is now. xkzero has summarized some important considerations for you here.

All stakeholders in your company—Executives, Salespeople, Operations Managers, Accounting and Finance and IT professionals—look at your business from a different angle. The great news is mobile can and will benefit all of them. But you need to avoid several pitfalls that can cost you money and headache.

If you have not yet mobilized your sales team, here are some important things for executives to consider.


From sales enablement to new revenue streams

Making or producing a great product is never enough to ensure business success, and relying on antiquated methods of selling can leave you vulnerable to new competitors that enter your market, hoping to disrupt.

More practical guides – Mobile B2B Sales: A Practical Guide for Sales Reps | Mobile B2B Sales: A Practical Guide for Operations Managers


A mobile sales app can do more than simply replace the fax machine with a smart phone as a means to get orders in your system. (Think about that for a minute.) It can turn you into a disruptor yourself.

How your team will benefit:

  • Increased revenue
  • New revenue streams
  • Reduced administrative costs
  • Better served customers
  • New and improved customer intelligence
  • Attraction of a new generation of sales reps and customers
  • More profits

Risk factors to consider:

  • Choice between a packaged solution and a solution that is custom designed specifically for your business
  • Adaptation by your team and overall usability
  • Ability to integrate with your existing systems
  • Achieving a justifiable ROI

The Cost of Inaction

Over 90 percent of the mobile sales automation projects xkzero has implemented over the past several years have been for companies previously relying on the tools and processes of yesterday – printed product catalogs, paper order forms, phone calls to customer service for the status of anything customer or inventory related.  Fax machines…

These companies represent the entire spectrum of manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries.

One thing all of the companies have in common is that once they switch from paper and manual processes to an automated mobile solution, they don’t change back.

Ready to talk about charting a mobile sales strategy for your business?  Contact us at or call 847-416-2009.

Visit the xkzero website to learn more about our winning solutions.



How to Download a Free Trial of iSales 100


Ready to kick the printed catalog / order form / fax machine habit?  xkzero is here to help - you can download a free trial of iSales 100 directly from your iPhone or iPad and try it for yourself.

It’s true. And in less than 3 minutes you can download iSales 100 to evaluate the features and benefits of one of the most flexible and adaptable mobile sales apps you’ll find for B2B wholesale distribution.

Here’s a less than 2-minute video showing you the steps to download your free trial of iSales 100 for Sage 100.  


How to Download a Free Trial of iSales 100:

Step 1: Search for iSales 100 on the Apple App store and launch the app


Step 2 – Login (User ID – xkzero Password – easy)


Step 3: Synchronize the data (tap on the circular button on the bottom and choose ‘Sync All’)



Step 5: Start Using the Free Demo of iSales 100!

The best way to learn how iSales 100 can benefit your business is to contact us for a personalized demonstration, including a demonstration of how iSales 100 can be personalized to meet your needs.

Contact us at or call 847-416-2009.



The Power of Surveys for Mobile Business


You don’t know your customer nearly as well as you think you do. This fact that is costing you money.

A previous version of this article appears in
Bellwether, a magazine produced by Blytheco, in the Fall 2015 edition called “Who is Your CMO?”

The great news is that if you empower your sales people with a bit of mobile technology, you’ll not only be able to create customer greater loyalty, but you’ll be able to generate more marketshare, too.

The answer to building these relationships can be found with the use of surveys combined with the unique capabilities of smart phones such as push notifications, alerts, photo enablement, and GPS.

We all know that the key to effective B2B marketing is creating relevant and informative content for your target customer. Think, though, do you really know what is pertinent to your customer? Sure, back when their business was a lead, you may have courted them with a lot of attention. Now that they have moved through the pipeline and became a customer, though, how much time and effort do you and your sales team dedicate to really learning about the company and understanding the customer’s ongoing behavior?

Winning new customers—especially in the B2B world—requires a significant investment. And losing hard won customer relationships is doubly expensive. It not only requires replacing lost customer revenue, but the loss means dealing with the potential fallout of your reputation, especially when a competitor takes your customers.

So where does that leave you? Many companies have data rich enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) systems brimming with information. By leveraging a modern survey application, tied into your back-end systems, your sales team can become the conduit to your company’s unbelievably high level of understanding of your customers and their behaviors. This allows you to stand out from the competitors in all new ways.

To maximize the impact of survey apps for mobile devices, here are some things to consider:

Create a profile of your ideal customer.

Your company’s sales reps should know how to identify the ideal customer. Does the customer participate in your promotions? Do they meet your branding standards? Are they cross selling and up selling your products? How does their behavior and performance compare to customers of a similar profile? (For instance, customers that are big box stores should only be compared to like businesses, and not to small distributors.)

Make sure sales reps understand desired behavior changes.

Once you’ve created a profile of the ideal customer, your sales reps should focus on specific target behaviors to try to modify to move each customer toward those goals. For example—Does the customer include your brand or offerings on their website and/or store window display?

Use a smart phone.

The smart phone is the ultimate business tool because it can do everything (including make phone calls) and at a low cost. Surveys as web apps can be effective too, but they lack the comprehensive capability of a mobile device. With a properly flexible survey app you can push customer-based surveys to your smart phones and unleash the power of characteristics like GPS, camera, alerts and so on.

A picture tells a thousand words.

A challenge in wholesale distribution is that even with a distributed or remote salesforce, executives have a limited ability to physically see or inspect customers, especially on a regular basis. A good survey app will allow for photo enablement—giving you eyes and ears on the street to ensure the environment your products are being sold into—and from—meet your quality standards. If the customer keeps your products stocked on the highest shelves, out of reach of the retail customer or the warehouse personnel responsible for picking orders, you could get overlooked.

You can remedy this neglect, though. Have your sales rep tour the store or warehouse, and attach a photo to a survey question about the physical accessibility of your goods.

Make surveys part of your culture.

To know your customer is to love your customer. We believe this wholeheartedly. Get buy-in from your sales reps about the kinds of questions you should ask. Then, make surveys a required part of the sales process. To be clear, this isn’t to say that all questions need to be asked of every customer on each encounter, but the right survey app will allow you to learn their requirements. If you make surveys part of your DNA. you can have the most informed sales team in your industry.

Provide your customer with the survey app, too.

It’s one thing to have your sales reps answer questions based on their own observations, but a great survey app with mobile and push notifications can provide a great means to gently coax information from your customers—and engender uncommon loyalty.

Surveys should be integrated with your ERP or CRM system.

Great surveys can be designed to capture any information you want—including non-financial or non-transactional data. With survey that’s integrated with back office systems, you’ll be able to generate meaningful reports that will show you the correlation between desired behaviors and sales results.

xkzero believes that the most successful sales people are confident, informed and equipped with the best technology.

Consider the power of surveys as you create your next marketing plan. What you learn might surprise you, and the increased profits and marketshare will have you making surveys new part of your business DNA.

Creating a Great User Experience – Mobile Sales App for Distributors


Creating a Great User Experience – Mobile Sales App for Distributors

Mobile sales automation can allow distributors and manufacturers to powerfully grow revenue, serve customers better and reduce administrative expenses. But it all starts with creating a great user experience.

The keys to creating a great user experience include filtering customers and inventory appropriately by user – and also enabling all of the sales functionality, but only the necessary functionality, on the mobile app.

This video shows how to accomplish that with iSales 100 – Advanced Mobile Sales for Sage 100. For more information contact xkzero at or call us at 847-416-2009.

Useful iSales 100 (Advanced Mobile Sales for Sage 100) Resources:

For more information contact xkzero at or call us at 847-416-2009.

Create and maintain receipt formats: iSales for Sage 100



Now with iSales 100 version 4.1 individual receipt formats can be created for each Sage 100 company / user / and transaction type.  HTML skills are required, and we’ve documented here what you’ll need to know to self serve this feature.

The HTML is on the Sage 100 server and can be edited by anyone with basic HTML knowledge.   Upon request, xkzero can do this for a fee (contact us at

We designed the receipt as an HTML file and use standard web technology to create the page, allowing the form to be previewed in a web browser. We use a template engine, which allows us to merge the data from the transaction into the page. It’s called Mustache – because the variables are bracketed with {{ and }} so they look like mustaches.

The HTML form is found on the Sage 100 server at:


Individual receipts may be setup for each specific Sage 100 company as well as specific Remote User (within a company).  This can be done by adding directories under ‘Content’.  For example, to add a receipt just for ABC company it would be:


And for Remote User ‘JEFF123’ in XYZ Company: 


In addition, in the 4.1.0 version we added the ability to setup different receipts for other transaction type. This is done by making an HTML file named by the transaction type as follows:

  • QuoteReceipt.hmtl
  • InvoiceReceipt.html
  • CreditMemoReceipt.html

Below is a list of Variables (labeled ‘MustacheVariables’) that are available. There are 2 parts of the page. There is the main page level and then there is the line level. The template will hit the line level and repeat the section for every line. So, in the variables file there are Line specific data elements.

In the file there are indented sections under Customer. This is a sub section. So, for each order we can get to the Customer information using ‘dot’ notation. For example:


Similar for Item information in the lines section.

Any information not in the list of variables is not available. So, UDF’s that are not one of the 8 UDF’s on Customers and Items (setup in Remote User Maint) are not available.


- Because it’s basically a web page, it is one big page without breaks. We are investigating ways to make it print like a standard form where the header will print at top of every page and a

footer at the bottom. But, for the time being it simply breaks wherever the page ends and continues printing on the next page.


  Customer {
  Lines[] {
    Item {
    Warehouse {

Any questions or comments?  Customers current on xkzero maintenance and support plans should contact us at



More iSales 100 resources from xkzero.







6 Cool Ideas for Distribution Companies


Distributor sales rep
These days, with increasing frequency, your sales reps spend less time in the office tied to a desktop PC, and more time out and about—building relationships, and hopefully closing new deals for your distribution business. Have you given much thought to how well equipped your sales reps are—or are not—with mobile resources? Do they have access to the information they need? Are they prepared to anticipate and attend to the needs of customers and prospects? And can they do these things with the confidence and accuracy needed to win their trust, and ultimately—loyalty to your brand?

The key to more sales and happier customers could be sitting right in your sales person’s pocket. It can be as simple as taking advantage of the great mobile sales solutions available to distributors and manufacturers today. Think about it. If your sales reps are going to leave the office with just one tool in their pockets, shouldn’t it be one that provides information to make their lives—and your business—better?

Let’s look at 6 cool ideas for distribution companies -  specific things you can do for your sales reps to improve their performance:

  1. Provide downloadable and dynamic access to customer information and contact details. Not only do new sales reps normally have to manually enter all these details themselves—names, addresses, multiple contacts, phone numbers, email addresses and on and on—but they have to maintain them too. Let’s be realistic. Relying on manual updates, how accurate and complete will that data be over time?
    A good mobile sales app will allow you to distribute all the customer and contact info directly to the smart phone with only a login and a password. If you follow best practices, that information will be maintained in your back office ERP/CRM/accounting system. That way, you’ll never have another worry about whether your rep has accurate contact information to always be connected to your customers.
  2. While you’re at it, give them dynamic inventory access, too. This is especially useful if you can provide visibility by warehouse, and differentiate between quantity on hand and quantity available. If your inventory has visual appeal and your mobile app can display images, you’re on the path to eliminating those expensive, never current product catalogs you’re still publishing.
  3. Equip them with historical sales information. Do you want to convey to your customer that you DON’T care for them? Then make sure your sales reps are not able to recite what the customer has purchased from them throughout time—when and at what price. But if it’s informed sales reps you want, mobile access to sales history is vital.
  4. Let them enter their own orders. Does your sales process require making a call, or filling out an order form that’s faxed to the office to be rekeyed by someone else? If so, congratulations because by enabling a mobile sales app that allows for transaction entry will save you boat loads of administrative labor, and will get the orders placed, picked, and delivered faster. This will also eliminate all kinds of errors.
  5. Empower sales reps to accept payments, too. Even if your long-standing distributor relationship leads you to grant 30-day payment terms, perhaps a change is in order. The culture of immediacy of all things consumer apps (especially as millennials flood the workforce) may be reason to rethink payment collection. Let’s face it, no one wants a paper check. No one wants a paper invoice.
    And while you’re not likely to be accepting Bitcoin, swiping a credit card may become the new normal. If your business model includes selling at tradeshows, from a sales counter, or a showroom floor—taking payment directly on your smart phone or tablet could both delight your customer, accelerate your cash flow—and provides yet another opportunity to save on administrative costs.
  6. Have sales reps collect new intelligence. I see a lot of businesses scrambling to find the latest, greatest business intelligence tools. They seek the latest dashboard, the most meaningful pivot table, the easiest-to-use query. What I don’t often see is companies evaluating the nature of the information they collect.
    Mobile apps and smart phones are naturals for gathering survey information of any kind. That could be customer, competitor, sales rep, or vehicle data. You name it. Mobile apps also leverage a wide range of tools your smart phone or tablet affords, allowing you to collect photos, other images, videos, audio notes, electronic signatures, and even location-centric (GPS) data.

There are a number of important considerations before investing in a mobile sales app. However, as you can see—there is opportunity-a-plenty to stand out in your industry as the most informed, up-to-date, confident, efficient and modern distribution/manufacturing business. How cool is that?

Other resources distributors may be interested in:

Ready to build your own mobile sales strategy?  We’d love to hear from you. Email us at, visit, or call 847-416-2009.


Summer: Sage Partner Webinars by xkzero

Have you set the bar to give your Sage clients mobile and search functionality?

Set the bar for your clients with xkzero summer Webinars for Sage partners.

Summer Sage Business Partner Webinars by xkzero

Now is the time for you to set the bar for new and exciting sales opportunities. We invite Sage partners to join our summer Webinars to consider how xkzero’s innovative mobile sales and search applications will stretch the ways you influence your clients and contribute to their success.

Here is a list of upcoming summer Webinars designed to make you the go-to resource for all of your client’s mobile and innovation needs. These are all Sage business partner-only events.

Register now for these free Webinars!

Are you aware of our summer promotions?  Contact your xkzero Account Representative or email us at for more information.

Join the fun this summer with xkzero!