D-Tools wants to make sure its customers not only buy its software, but use it effectively, as well. That’s just one of several initiatives being led by the AV integration proposal software pioneer’s CEO Randy Stearns as he leads his company into the future.
“We want our finish line to be the customer being successful with our software, with the sale [of the D-Tools package] as simply a milestone along the way,” Stearns said. “That’s particularly critical now as we move to the cloud and customer retention becomes everything. The customer can turn on and off the software any given month.
In the two years since Stearns was hired as CEO of proposal software pioneer D-Tools, the former custom integration business owner has worked to put a customer success team in place and has established a professional services group that handles all of the company’s trainings, which are regional, online, and twice a week via webinar. The company also provides software orientation and implementation support calls with every new customer—even trial customers.
“We get about 200 customers that sign up for a trial each month,” Stearns explained. “And, we’re reaching out to every single one of them and making time to make sure they get up and running with the software successfully.”
Stearns says that D-Tools wants to help simplify and streamline the sales process that integrators go through with their clients. Its rewritten mobile proposal app, which comes out later this month, promises to solve many of the headaches facing integrators during the proposal process. Designed to create an accurate project scope and budget in real time, Mobile Quote 2.0 offers salespeople the ability to display price breakdowns by system, by room, and even as equipment versus labor using attractive tables and graphs, eliminating the uncomfortable unknown that haunts many salespeople (and clients) as that initial client meeting comes to a close and both parties walk away wondering whether the proposal price will meet the stated budgetary parameters. Click here to read Stearn’s blog on Mobile Quote 2.0.
The company is also moving to its aforementioned cloud solution late in Q1 next year, when the company looks to reimagine how proposals are presented. “We’re moving to a more multimedia sort of style where there can be videos from the business owner or even a similar installation at a house,” Stearns said. “As opposed to a PDF of a proposal, we’re really rethinking the whole sale process in a way that will be beneficial to the industry as a whole.”
Eventually, Stearns hopes, D-Tools will become the business software platform that unites the entire industry, at least in the way integrators run their businesses and communicate with clients and vendors.
“We want our system to connect systems integrators with their clients, in terms of sales management and a CRM, then our Mobile Quote app will be more interactive with the client during the sales process, and for project management where clients can actually view project status and get updates live online,” Stearns said. “Then, after the project is complete, we will help manage the service communication process through our platform.”
In addition to connecting integrators with clients, the platform obviously will help integrators communicate with vendors, through its product library, and through a new cloud-enabled design collaboration feature. Whereas in the past, only one user come login at a time, the new model enables multiple users to work together on a system design. For example, an integrator working on a custom landscape audio system could invite Sonance into the D-Tools platform to assist through design tool; Stewart could provide screen dimensions for a theater design.
“An integrator could open up these configuration tools, in the design environment, natively, within a D-Tools frame, and the click a button that says, ‘Push to D-Tools’ and it outputs what was created from that configuration tool into a proposal or a drawing package for that project,” Stearns said. “So you can stay within a single design environment through the whole process.”
D-Tools already offers a purchasing portal, but through the new design collaboration platform the company can also connect with other industry partners, allowing architects and designers to collaborate on speaker placement or share project updates with general contractors.
The company is working to bring other design software providers together. “We already have an integration with Portal and ProjX360, soon with Domotz and Ihiji,” Stearns said. “We want to continue to work to bring the software providers together for an end-to-end solution for integrators to use the tools that they choose to use. We don’t ever want to assume that D-Tools is the end all, be all.
Unlike Portal, D-Tools has philosophically chosen to not include product cost in its library. Portal, on the other hand, does seek out that information, so D-Tools gives its customers access to Portal’s cost data, (if they’ve signed up with Portal and clicked the Portal button on the D-Tools screen.)
Typically D-Tools becomes “archival” after a project is complete. But, by partnering with Domotz and Ihiji remote system monitoring, it extends the lifecycle of its software. The company is close to being able to take Domotz’s data from a table-style format to a planned view of a house with device placement flags that are green, yellow, or red to indicate a device’s health, or to show data flowing through it, such as a video feed or temperature on a thermostat. That way, the two companies are enhancing each other’s technologies, which, in the end, better serves the integrator client and the end user.