Bringing you the best of the cloud and desktop – an interview with Brian Cors, President and CEO of CorsPro
CorsPro has long been known for its ability to hyper-automate the pre-sales process and bridge sales and operations. Our tool, SalesDoc Architect (SDA), empowers our clients to sell more in less time at higher profit margins and with increased customer satisfaction. We help our clients architect the solutions they are proposing to their customers.
CorsPro was born from the telephony industry many years ago when telephony meant hardware and software and when IT departments were kept separate from telephony. As the industry evolved, so did we. No longer does SDA support only telephony solutions: anything our clients sell, we can automate, including hosted solutions, security, video, IT and IT managed services.
Read this interview with Brian Cors, president and CEO, as he describes CorsPro’s past, present, and the roadmap for its exciting future…
Interviewer: SDA is built on Microsoft Office – why?
Brian Cors: 15 years ago, in 2003, we decided to take advantage of the flexibility and power of the Microsoft Office platform and tightly integrate SalesDoc Architect with it, especially Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word. We did this primarily because people are very familiar with Excel and want to continue using it. We know that many technology-focused resellers use Excel for configuration and pricing. Their sales engineers know Excel and can program their own rules (including configuration, workflow and approval rules) within SDA using Excel formulas. They can incorporate Excel spreadsheets that they’ve previously developed into SDA and easily develop new ones in the future. This reduces the learning curve and “time to market”, saving time and money. No longer are they reliant on a monolithic quoting/configuration solution that requires programmers, an obstacle that usually leads to the monolithic solution becoming stale and out of date. With SDA, subject matter experts (SMEs) can continually perfect it simply by changing Excel formulas … with no programmers required!
The integration with Microsoft Word further increases flexibility. By pushing information out of Excel into Word and associating configurations with proposal and scope of work document content – including auto-generating document content based on the configured part numbers – users can easily and automatically generate customer-specific outputs. Because documents are generated in Word rather than only as a PDF or Crystal Report, SDA provides users with the flexibility to further customize their outputs by adding in a relevant executive summary or highlighting certain sections that will set them apart from the competition. Of course, once they’ve tweaked the output, users can then generate a PDF version of the final document to send their customer.
What about the cloud?
BC: In early 2015, we created SDA Cloud – hosted by Amazon Web Services – to help our clients manage and report on sales opportunities and quotes. We designed it so that users could create and update quotes at the desktop while “offline” from the internet, then push opportunity and quote data to SDA Cloud when they were back online. With that, we became a leader in offline/online data and file management. We gave our customers a way to work offline – say at home or on a plane or subway – save their work on their laptops, then when they’re back online to automatically push the data to SDA Cloud and the quote/output files to a network or shared drive. We further automated the process by enabling clients to auto-name and auto-save quote and output files so that users wouldn’t need to even think about what to name a file or where to save it.
What’s so important auto-naming and auto-saving? What do they have to do with the cloud?
BC: SDA’s auto-naming and auto-saving ensure that a quote or output file is never misplaced. A company-wide naming scheme is used so that everyone knows where the files reside. By automating the saving and naming conventions, users don’t even need to think about what to name a file or where to save it. In addition, management and sales engineering can review and approve quotes before users generate a proposal, scope of work or other output. Quote and output files can be opened via the Desktop or from SDA Cloud.
Approval and workflow rules can be programmed using Excel formulas. For example, sales manager approval might be required if a quote is priced below a certain margin, or sales engineer review might be required for certain types of solutions. You can even auto-generate an email that lists the reasons that approval is required, with a hyperlink to open the quote file so that it can be reviewed. No more sending files in email. No more wasting time hunting down quote files.
A big benefit of cloud-based solutions is that updates are automatic. How is CorsPro using the cloud to update the Desktop?
BC: Recently, we launched a new cloud-hosted method for updating Desktop components. Administrators simply upload their updates – including the Microsoft Office file components – to the cloud where user machines will “see” and automatically download and install the updates. Clients can integrate all Excel and Word files that they use in the pre-sales process – for example, a Cisco solutions labor calculation worksheet – into the cloud-hosted updates process, ensuring that users are always up-to-date with regard to those files.
What is CorsPro doing to further enhance collaboration via the cloud?
BC: Very soon, we’ll be launching our integration with Microsoft SharePoint, a web-based collaborative platform with robust file management and powerful workflow capabilities. It’s included with Office 365. Known for its power – but also its complexity – Microsoft has done a great job of dramatically simplifying the user interface as well as the setup that is, for the online version, completely automatic. SharePoint is also the foundation upon which Microsoft Teams – a Slack-like team collaboration application – is built. And it integrates with e-signature services including DocuSign and Adobe Sign.
We’ve built the SharePoint integration so that quote and output files can be auto-named and auto-saved to specific SharePoint locations, making it easy to co-locate ALL files related to a project in one place so that sales and operations personnel can share files, chat and collaborate via Microsoft Teams, and send proposals and scopes of work to prospects and customers for e-signature.
We will also be updating our SDA Cloud user interface to make it even friendlier, faster and more productivity-enhancing. As part of that update, we’ll be adding a new “dashboard” view to provide users with key information and quick access to recent quotes and opportunities. And, for those who take advantage of our SharePoint integration, we’ll provide direct links to SharePoint project locations.
Finally, later this year we’ll start to migrate our document library manager to the cloud, rather than having it reside on the SDA administrator machine (although today it is pushed out to users via the cloud). Clients will be able to have several people collaborate via the cloud on updates to their document content. Eventually, users will also be able to collaborate on RFP (request for proposal) responses that pull from the core content and enable them to author RFP-specific document content that can be pulled together into complete RFP response outputs when all content components are complete.
In sum, we’re focused on enhancing collaboration within our clients’ sales teams and moving functionality to the cloud wherever we can, while still retaining key Desktop components (Microsoft Office, in particular) and enabling users to work offline.