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 info@xkzero.com, visit www.xkzero.com, or call 847-416-2009.


3 ways to make xkzero part of your Sage Summit story

xkzero will be well-represented at Sage Summit 2015 in New Orleans!

Here are 3 ways to make xkzero a part of your Sage Summit story.

1. Visit our booth.

xkzero team members look forward to seeing you at booth 522!
Sage Summit Booth 522: xkzero

2. Take a class.

Alnoor Cassim, Director of xkzero Technical Services will conduct a 2-day advanced scripting class for 90 Minds.  

Alnoor has taught 4 sold out beginning-level scripting classes over the last couple of years–each session attended by around 20 consultants. This will be the first time he offers an advanced-level class, so you won’t want to miss it!

3. Attend a talk.

Sage Summit welcomes back xkzero co-founder Paul Ziliak as a part of the Thought Leadership speaker series.

This year, Paul is slated for two speaking sessions:

We hope you’ll be a part of our Sage Summit story! See you in New Orleans? Register here. (Remember, you also need to register for the sessions and classes!) 

Paul Ziliak at Sage Summit 2014: "Why Mobile, Why Now"

Paul Ziliak at Sage Summit 2014: “Why Mobile, Why Now”


Sage Summit 2015: Early Bird Registration Rates Extended to 5/15!


We are looking forward to what is sure to be another exciting Sage Summit! This year’s conference takes place July 27-30 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Did you know Sage customers can take advantage of an early registration price of $399? This rate is in effect until April 30, 2015 has been extended through May 15!


Note that on the registration page, you’ll find tabs for hotel packages
and airfare discounts.

What is Sage Summit?

In case you are new to this annual event, we’ll give you the run-down. Sage Summit is a four-day convergence of Sage partners and customers, packed with training sessions, and informative presentations on topics relating to ERP solutions, technology, and specific industry sectors. It includes a showroom floor to enhance the networking opportunities and give customers a chance to explore new technologies.

Sage Summit keeps it high profile, too. Last year’s speakers included Magic Johnson, Biz Stone of Twitter, and Jessica Alba.

xkzero Representation

Sage also calls on those with the pulse on issues affecting the Sage community, including our own Paul Ziliak, co-founder of xkzero. He emphasized the significance of mobile ERP in this presentation: Why Mobile, Why Now?. Turns out people enjoyed it so much that Paul was invited to speak again this year. Stay tuned for details!

As always, we will have a presence on the showroom floor, where we look forward to connecting with present and future partners and customers. We welcome you to stop by for a demo of our mobile apps such as xkzero Mobile Commerce, iSales 100, and GetX, all of which integrate with Sage ERP solutions.

It’s been an exciting time for xkzero, as we have grown a bit since Sage Summit 2014. We bring new offerings such as xkzero Technical Services, and have expanded our channel sales territories. These changes have also led to additional staff who some of you might know from their years of success in the Sage community. Be sure to visit our booth to greet our whole team!

Sage Summit 2015 Sneak Peek

We don’t have all the sought-after details about special guests or closing night celebrations, but Sage has provided the following calendar information so you can start plotting your Summit story now!:

This just in! Sage announced that Paul Ziliak will speak in the thought leader series again. He will present these two talks:
TL-134: Why mobile, why now? A decision maker’s guide to business success
TL-139: Disrupt your industry: Making your mobile dream a reality


The inspirational energy at Sage Summit can be quite contagious. We hope to see you in New Orleans!


At xkzero, we believe that people perform best when they are confident, informed, and have a high level of trust in the tools they use. Maybe it’s time for your wholesale distribution business to start gearing up with mobile apps. If your ERP data tells the story of your customers and your inventory, shouldn’t you equip your team to have that information in their pockets?

Contact us at info@xkzero.com or 847-416-2009, we can help you create a mobile plan that works for you.

Is your B2B industry about to go mobile?

Why Mobile ERP, Why Now?

blog series by xkzero

Goodbye printed product catalogs, adios order sheets, see ya, outdated price lists. And good riddance,
“I’ll send you a quote when I get back to the office
on Monday.”

Mobile has become such a part of the way we live that our dependence upon it extends well beyond personal use. As far as business is concerned, pretty much every leading business-to-consumer brand has a mobile-based site. It’s even common to check competitor prices with a phone right from the store aisle.

We know the convenience mobile devices offer us as consumers. And while certain industries have invested heavily in mobile for years, a big change is that any and all businesses now seem to be ready.

Why now?
Mobile was once thought of as trendy, and only used by high-tech, cutting edge industries. We can thank the trailblazers for working out many of the bugs to make it easy for businesses just getting started now. Smartphone and tablet technology today is more reliable, flexible, and dependable. Luckily, increased storage space lets us install and use a variety of apps, and access off-site information. Also, Internet connectivity is available nearly everywhere—if not via WiFi, at least using cellular data.

Which industries can benefit from mobile?
Now that the early adopters have paved the path, mainstream business-to-business (B-to-B) companies are rapidly discovering the unique uses for mobile devices and apps.

Here are just a few examples of how companies in various B-to-B industries are automating processes with hand-held devices:

Commercial Landscaper
We’ve had the opportunity to work with businesses in a wide range of industries that are taking advantage of the special nature of mobile technology. We were able to help a Minnesota-based commercial landscaper conduct business from places where even a laptop would be too bulky to carry, or otherwise impractical.

Now, with our mobile tools, the company’s sales reps can order materials right from the job site. Not only are they able to enter customer quotes and orders this way, but while at client sites, they can also add photos and sketches on the spot and send them back to the ERP. This gives the installation team instant access to job requirements so they can immediately get started on plans and ask questions before the rep even leaves the site.

This saves time once needed for duplicate entry into the back office system. Also, the tablet’s camera and drawing capabilities provide team members in any location with a previously unavailable 360-degree view of the job site.

Heavy Equipment Supplier
We’ve seen a heavy equipment supplier benefit from mobile, too. A Texas-based cement truck company now deploys its sales people to customer sites using apps on their tablets to enter orders and provide price quotes. In this industry, it’s vital to submit an “all-in” price, which includes shipping costs. Our mobile shipping app helps this company get the best carrier rates—right on their smart devices. Providing an all-in price quickly allows them to close the deal faster than ever before.

Decorative Home Products Manufacturer
Smart devices are also transforming the way companies work at trade shows, where it’s increasingly becoming the norm to book a sale on the spot and not risk losing the deal later. One decorative home products company is no longer beholden to laptops or even at the mercy of spotty terminal services connections typical in many conference halls. This improvement is a result of using our mobile sales app, which can work offline, thus making booking sales at the trade show a more immediate—and much less stressful process.

More Than Just Sales
While conducting sales functions with mobile is a natural fit, automation of any aspect of the business has become a reality. This is especially true in warehouse operations, and is the case with one of our clients, a leading manufacturer of point-of-sale mobile device accessories. The company was fortunate to experience great success in product sales. Then, as demand grew, they discovered the picking, packing and shipping methods they had been using created a bottleneck. To solve this, we were able to provide an app that would automate those processes and ship thousands of orders per day—using the super-portable iPad minis.

One trend is clear. Just as 25 years ago most small and mid-sized businesses replaced paper-based systems with automated software systems, today, businesses in a wide range of industries are replacing paper-based sales and warehouse systems with mobile. Yes, that includes your industry.

Why Mobile ERP, Why Now?
blog series by xkzero
This article is part of a series based on xkzero co-founder Paul Ziliak’s talk at Sage Summit 2014 called “Why Mobile, Why Now?: A Decision Maker’s Guide to Business Success.”

Paul Ziliak, xkzero Co-Founder

Paul Ziliak, xkzero Co-Founder

Through our blog, we bring to you some of the ideas initially shared in this talk. We will also continue to add new insights about why mobile for ERP is here to stay and how you can get the jump on your competitors by incorporating everything special about mobile technology into your business now.

You may also like this story from the series: Establishing Trust with Mobile ERP.

Is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel a fan of this app?

Why Mobile ERP, Why Now?
a blog series by xkzero

In the previous blog, “Establishing Trust with Mobile ERP,” we discussed automobile diagnostics as a metaphor for the evolution of technology, so we’ll continue with the driving theme. Did you know that Chicago, where I live, has the nation’s most expensive parking meters? That’s not the worst part, though. The true source of stress is the lofty ticket prices for expired meters.

Meter-Paul_ScreenAs you might imagine, I get zero sympathy from Mayor Emanuel. He doesn’t mind at all if I don’t pay the fee on time because late penalties mean more cash for the city coffers!

There is now a mobile app, though, that keeps me out of trouble. It’s called ParkChicago and functions like a mind-reading, convenient dream.

How does it work? First, I pre-fund my account, so I only have to tap a few buttons whenever I park, which comes in handy when I’m in a hurry to get to that dentist appointment.

My favorite part—perhaps because it feels so personal—is that it sends a phone alert when my meter is running out! (Can we attach this functionality to regularly used household items like milk or toilet paper, please?)

That means, when I’m parked on a city street while having a nice dinner with my wife, I don’t have to interrupt our date to leave the restaurant and feed the meter. I simply excuse myself for a moment…tap, tap, tap, swipe…and the conversation barely skips a beat.

It’s convenient all year round, but this is the first Chicago winter we’ll have the option of not bundling up to run outdoors and fumble with cold quarters in gloved hands. That is quite exciting to locals and visitors alike!

This mobile app positively transforms the experiences formerly interrupted by manually feeding a meter. It also helps prevent the expensive disappointment of finding that orange and white ticket envelope adhered to the window.

The possibilities of mobile are life changing, for sure. (Is it weird to say that a mobile app “gets me?”)

Lovely Rita, meter maid, our time is up.

Think of all the little conveniences you can provide your business customers with mobile. Want to brainstorm about this? We’d love to hear from you.

Why Mobile ERP, Why Now?
a blog series by xkzero

This article is part of a series based on xkzero co-founder Paul Ziliak’s talk at Sage Summit 2014 called “Why Mobile, Why Now?: A Decision Maker’s Guide to Business Success.”

Paul Ziliak, xkzero Co-Founder

Through our blog, we bring to you some of the ideas initially shared in this talk. We will also continue to add new insights about why mobile for ERP is here to stay and how you can get the jump on your competitors by incorporating everything special about mobile technology into your business now.

You may also like this story from the series: Is your B2B industry about to go mobile?

Sage Summit 2014 Innovation Sessions


Have you booked your trip to Sage Summit 2014 in Las Vegas yet?  With attendance already north of 6,000, Summit promises to be an entirely new experience for Sage users and business partners this year with a whole new look at how you grow your business from here.

xkzero’s own Paul Ziliak will be a featured speaker from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 30 in the Innovation Theater, on the topic, “Why mobile, why now?  A decision maker’s guide to business success.” When building your conference agenda you will find this as session BUS-503.

Session BUS-503 Sage Summit 2014

Session BUS-503 Sage Summit 2014

But Paul won’t be alone.  Sage has assembled a world class collection of speakers providing unique business and insights.  Scheduled speakers include Biz Stone, Co-Founder of Twitter, Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary to President Barack Obama, Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, Magic JohnsonJessica Alba and more.

And because 6,000 people have at least as many interests, the Sage Summit schedule contains over 400 educational events built around topics such as Business Performance in the Digital Age, Industry Best Practices, Managing Risk and Data Security, Maximizing Your Workforce and Benefits, Navigating the Regulatory Landscape, and Strengthening Sales, Marketing and Customer Relationships.

It really begs the question, while these 6,000 people are in Las Vegas, what will you be doing to grow your business forward?

You’ll also find xkzero as a Sage Summit sponsor on the exhibit hall floor in booth 414.  We hope to see you there!