When Jim Wallace, COO, and Mike Viola, CFO, first started Forerunner Technologies, they had a simple philosophy – “consistency in everything we do.” Located in Edgewood, NY, Forerunner Technologies has been around since 1989. They are a Triple Diamond NEC reseller dedicated to excellence and the implementation of technical expertise. They recently won the 2018 NEC Advantage Award in recognition of excellence in growth, leadership, and transformation.
As a premier NEC reseller this philosophy is key to Forerunner’s continued success. On the operations side of the house this was an easy philosophy to follow. On the sales side, things were not so easy.
Too Many Spreadsheets
Before meeting the CorsPro team at the NEC Advantage 2016 conference, Forerunner faced challenges many resellers encounter – the proliferation of spreadsheets and difficulty transferring configuration information from the manufacturer’s configuration tool into their homegrown tool. Not only did this create an extra step in the sales process, the sheer number of spreadsheets and pricing platforms requiring updates was a nightmare. Questions arose constantly regarding who saved the spreadsheet to their desktop or if everyone had the newest information.
There was no consistent messaging or format in proposals and other customer-facing documents. With 10-15 salespeople, everybody was doing things their own way. This created problems for the operations team who had to interpret what products and services were sold. In addition, the quoted price may have been out-of-date or could no longer be explained. This resulted in margin loss and wasted energy trying to put the puzzle back together.
This inconsistency flowed in to the creation of Scopes of Work – if there was a scope of work at all. Many times, the scope consisted of one line that would read something like, “Install, train and install SV9100.” Sales people aren’t inherently interested in writing the nuts and bolts of a scope of work which made life difficult for the operations side of the house.
So, when a few sales engineers saw CorsPro demonstrating SalesDoc Architect (SDA), they brought Wallace and Viola over to check it out. At first, they were skeptical but once they saw SDA in action it made sense. They started to ask how they could automate the sales process all the way through. Prior to using SDA, sales would manually type up their quotes, do separate spreadsheets to substantiate pricing and costing, then generate and send a proposal. But the approach left out valuable information for the implementation team and back-office.
Automation Eliminates Duplication and Errors
By automating the both the pre- and post-sales processes, Forerunner eliminated the duplication of paperwork for the back office. Configuration and pricing information now flows directly from an SDA quote file into a sales order and order extract. This means errors are eliminated and everyone is on the same page.
As their maintenance business grows, Wallace and Viola are seeing the value in SDA to generate their maintenance contracts. Per Viola, “Incorporating maintenance is a big thing for us. The pricing for that maintenance contract goes hand-in-hand when you’re proposing a new system. We plan to add in other types of maintenance contracts soon.”
In addition to automating processes and bringing greater consistency to proposals and scopes of work, Forerunner has been able to include complex commission calculations in SalesDoc Architect. Many companies like Forerunner are selling Hosted or Cloud Services in addition to the traditional on-premise solutions. Hosted offers sold “as-a-Service” with monthly recurring revenue require more sophisticated commission calculations. On top of that, Forerunner includes lead generation fees. By incorporating these calculations within SalesDoc Architect, account executives can see their commission fees upfront.
A Simple Philosophy Pays Off
As original founders, a simple philosophy guided Viola and Wallace – “Consistency in everything we do. On the operations side, when a customer did business with us they knew what the expectation was, that we were going to do whatever we said we were going to do. We were going to follow through on it from a simple shipment of getting tracking information that night, to what your invoice will look like when you got it,” says Wallace.
Working with CorsPro and implementing SalesDoc Architect brought that same consistency to the sales side of the house. Everyone proposes in the same manner. All the people within the company view the sales process the same way. As positive as the sales team has been, the true test comes from customers. Wallace shares, “A 30-year client of one of our partners told us, ‘This is the nicest, most professional proposal I’ve ever seen in my life.’”
Consistency might sound cliché to some, but for Forerunner Technologies, it is the key to their success.