QuoteWerks: Needed NOW more than EVER!

Analytics/ Analysis

As folks including clients and MSPs focus more on the “spend-side” including expenses, QuoteWerks is more relevant than EVER.

We recently cornered Brian Laufer, long-time partner at QuoteWerks for a business models update.

High-level points in the interview include:

  • Sales quoting and proposal solutions with a focus on supply chain trends
  • Using data science to analyze vendor information
  • Supply chain issues in the IT industry during COVID-19
  • The benefits of using a service to manage procurement for MSPs

Read and listen HERE!

Harry Brelsford  00:06

Hey nation nation. We're back. Another podcast. We're with Brian Laufer from QuoteWorks, a longtime friend, how you doing?

Brian Laufer  00:14

Doing very well thank you

quote works polite image

Harry Brelsford  00:16

all right. Hey quickly what is QuoteWorks? What does QuoteWerks do?

Brian Laufer  00:22

Yeah so we're a sales quoting and proposal solution. We've been around for almost 30 years now. So we've seen the industry change and with that we've changed along with it as far as how we deliver quotes to customers how we integrate with different solutions. But the main thing of what we do is we help basically anybody create a quote faster than what they're doing right now delivering the quote, you know, closing that, quote, getting payment, automating the process through their CRM and PSA all the way through accounting.

Harry Brelsford  00:53

Yeah, and as I recall, it's been a while since we talked, as I recall, I think you're hooked into the distilleries. So your quote has SKUs in pricing. Right?

Brian Laufer  01:03

Exactly, exactly. And we're able to very easily see all the pricing and availability from all the distributors that you work with. And you don't have to maintain those product lists or anything like that. We're able to you can do like a keyword search, you can do a part number search. And it'll show you you know, the parts from TD Synnex. From, you know, Ingram from dnh, even from Amazon business all in one screen.

Harry Brelsford  01:27

Yeah, cool. All right. Well, let's, let's get to the main topic. So your firm recently released a study, what's the study? What's the story?

Brian Laufer  01:35

Yeah. So, early last year, and 2022, we, we sent out a survey to our customers trying to get an idea of, you know, what the trends were in it, when it came to working with vendors and, and distributors, just because, you know, we're coming through COVID, you know, things were starting to shape up in Europe interchange in Europe, I should say. And so there were still a lot of supply chain concerns. And there are today as well, but we really wanted to get a better idea of what was going on. We were adding on more distributors and vendors at the time. We're continuing to do that now. But we wanted to get an idea of what they were seeing out there. You know, besides like the the people that we see at events, we wanted to open it up to all of the community to see what they thought, as far as you know, how many vendors they were working with, you know, what their average sale was that sort of thing. That way we can kind of share that information with the community. And we're going to continue doing that year to year. So we have basically a touch point to see how things are going as the years progress.

Harry Brelsford  02:41

Yeah, I see if I can add value here, hopefully not subtract value. The startup in an adjacent industry I'm in I have a for the first time and outside Board of Directors, I should have done that 23 years ago, let me tell you, but one of the guys is a data scientist who left Microsoft of a number of years ago, and he's not a sound. And so we're engaging with him and some exercises in the firma graphics area, right, where he can take a list of quite frankly, a list of vendors and put them in a black box, and then turn the handle that out the other side will come basic firmographic data that we're interested in, like, you know, what's, how many employees? Do they have this, that and the other? And it seems like you're you're kind of getting right up into that area. That's kind of what I'm hearing, maybe, you know, different approach, but you're essentially doing some demographic profiling. Is that fair?

Brian Laufer  03:48

Yeah. I mean, I guess I'd say that, I mean, I think the key thing that we're looking for is, you know, there was a lot of like, scuttlebutt about issues with, you know, working with different vendors, as well as just, you know, how people were able to get and obtain things. I mean, if you remember, I mean, you couldn't find switches for like six months, you know, at a certain point during the pandemic. So it was kind of just getting going from anecdotal information to actually putting it into, you know, a real life view of what was actually happening.

Harry Brelsford  04:21

Yeah, yeah, no, exactly. How's your business model? And let me frame it up, because I've always liked what you did. I see the value of basically saving time and headaches, right. I have a carry the bag in a long time, but I do remember, I do remember having to order stuff. And it's just it's not what I do. It was right is the personas that you recruit and serve. Are they coming at it from that point of view that I can offload this? In do what I want to do

Brian Laufer  04:59

it Yeah, exactly. I mean, the thing is with quote works, you know, we make it so it's easier to quote products and services. You know, when it comes to integrating with vendors and distributors, that is our sweet spot. And that's also the the pain point that most MSPs or managed service providers have. It's that integration as far as getting pricing, who has availability, when that availability is going to happen so that they can then plan out their next, you know, 123 months of projects, because they're going to need those those items in stock. So, you know, not only are we looking at the quoting phase, but we're looking at the purchasing phase, and then going into tickets and their PSAs as well.

Harry Brelsford  05:41

Yeah. Yeah, you know, and I can only imagine the challenges by the way, we're gonna get it back next quarter, you, you have a lot to say. So we'll maybe tease out the audience a little bit here. But you again, when I carried the bag and parts and equipment stuff, were never a big part of my practice. Brian, I was embedded inside a large regional accounting firm in the Pacific Northwest. So we were trying to act more like Andersen consulting is a part of Arthur Andersen, right? It was that basic model. So we really didn't, you know, do the hardware thing as much. But we did, I never had to deal with supply chain issues, right? I mean, this, this is yesteryear, and you order the thing, and it shows up in a reasonable amount of time, you know what I'm saying?

Brian Laufer  06:31

Yeah, definitely. And really, we didn't really hit this as bad until COVID hit, that's when it really became an issue. But you know, it's always been, you know, cost has always been a consideration, especially for smaller MSPs. You know, some of the smaller MSPs were at the point where they're there, they were telling their customers go on Amazon Go to see DW buy it from them, just because it was such a headache for them to quote those products. I mean, the, the the margins that you would get on product is not what it used to be, you know, 1015 years ago, but it's still there. And it's just important to understand where to get it from in order to to keep those margins. But beyond that, you're, you know, you're not just looking at the hardware sale itself, you're looking at being sticky, or, you know, having those touch points with the customers as opposed to them, oh, you can just go over there. And oh, by the way, now you can work with any partner because you don't have that relationship with me. So you want to keep that relationship with your customers. And that's why buying the product for them is so important.

Harry Brelsford  07:38

Yeah, that makes that makes sense. One final last observation. We're at a we're out of time, but I was talking with an accomplished MSP down in Houston. Quite quite a good businessman, and I was talking about your service, your solution, and this is a few years ago, you know, this way, you know, pre pandemic pre COVID. So we're yakking. And I said, you know, why wouldn't you just do that? And he's like, Well, I've already got Alison on payroll. And that's what she does. She's a buyer. I already have Alison. And the conversation kind of meandered about like arbitraging labor rates, you know, versus using your service. I'm sure you have that conversation. Well, I've already got Allison. And then maybe you can come in and go, Well, we can have Allison do other things, or we're cheaper than Allison.

Brian Laufer  08:35

Right. I mean, that's actually the one of the problems that we have when working with a new company is, you know, they have like, you know, they have like two or three people in procurement. And with us, they can usually downsize quite a bit because we handle the procurement side, including, you know, placing online order with the distributors, as well as getting tracking information. You know, all the serial numbers, all of that. And that then syncs into the PSA as well. So we handle a lot of the overhead. You can see what's been shipped by the distributors, what hasn't shipped, what is what's been received, what hasn't been received, all in one place, as opposed to all these separate systems that a lot of procurement teams are using.

Harry Brelsford  09:20

Yeah, yeah, exactly. All right, my friend, will we're going to talk to you that continued success. We're good. Hey, last last last question. Maybe one or two shows between now and the next time we talk where people could expect to see you.

Brian Laufer  09:34

Yeah. So we've got some ASCII events coming up. We'll be at DattoCon and then just like everybody else will be at IT Nation as well.

Harry Brelsford  09:44

Yeah, gotta go. Yeah. All right. All right. Take care. Thank you, sir. All right. Thank you.