IE is a Cisco Gold Partner and a strategic solution provider. For mid-market and enterprise clients it offers consulting, implementation and operational services in four validated architectures: Collaboration, Data Center, Intelligent Networks, and Security. With headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina and representation also in South Carolina, the company has served the South-East region of the USA since 1996.
Full involvement to automate the quoting process began eight years ago. While IE embraced the concept of speeding the workflow, the journey of moving from an Excel-led to a database-led environment was problematic.
The two vendors who preceded StrataVAR achieved only partial success. One recurring question was 'Who needs to adapt - the vendor or the client?'
Wendy Johnson, Development Director at IE, recalls the transition process: "There was underlying pressure for us to change our underlying way of working and accept the vendor's way of achieving results. This generated resistance in our work teams". She also mentioned that capabilities and interfaces claimed for the contracted automation system were slow in coming. "The inflexibility to respond promptly to your requests can hold you back", she added.
Three years ago, IE began using StrataVAR's Partner Quoting Workspace (PqW) solution. The bond with StrataVAR rapidly became a strong and lasting one, with the vendor showing the desired flexibility to fit in with existing processes and easily integrate with other systems.
This ease in using an automation system which 'talks our language' encouraged much better collaboration with all parties in the sales cycle - Internal Sales Teams, Account Managers and Sales Engineers.
Chris Applegate, IE's VP of Business and Legal Affairs, was pleased with this change of approach: "Now we finally have a quoting system that's built for customization and quickly adaptable to what we need. Once you set up the parameters and filters correctly, the rest is easy."
Within six months, IE started to see significant economies. Small quotations that used to take 20 minutes to prepare are now being done in 5 minutes. Large quotations with many lines are cut down from 40 minutes to 10. The potential for human error is largely eliminated.
Sales teams who previously had some latitude with spreadsheet formulas to offer special deals still keep that 'marketing edge' with PqW. The special deal is saved as a draft and sent to higher authorities to approve or reject. All variations from the standard quotes are saved, like the tracking function in 'Word'. There's no need to waste valuable time digging in archived files.
PqW also integrated well with complementary software like Quickbooks Accounting System, ensuring that the overall workflow ran smoothly and fast.
The fact that both IE and StrataVAR are Cisco-centric is a major boost towards achieving more in less time. StrataVAR's deep knowledge of the Cisco environment means that both sides can immediately shift to a higher level of cooperation. It also gives the vendor the opportunity to initiate.
StrataVAR's Co-Founder Raphael Epstein explains: "Due to our long expertise, we can often sense where things are going and ask the right questions. We can pinpoint issues before our client does."
A vendor who becomes a trusted advisor - truly one of the team - is the overriding factor for a long-standing business relationship, concludes Chris: "We care deeply about the success of our clients' business. StrataVAR shows us the same commitment about our business."