The Best of Times to Make the Document Management Sale6 Feb, 2013 By: John Mancini imageSource
The often quoted sentence in Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .” brings to mind the copier and print services channel.
Let’s assume you’ve heard the worst of it before. You know there are vast opportunities in the document management solution sale but the old pay-per-click business is becoming commoditized. You know you need to do something to move up the value chain, although all of this creates challenges in term of the skills needed to sell solutions.
Old business models are being challenged and commoditized and new opportunities are emerging, but how exactly can you seize these opportunities? Here are five actionable tips for success in selling document management solutions.
- Understand the market and where you fit. There are many “flavors” of document management. It used to be easy because there was only one flavor of document management used by large organizations buying complex ECM suites, generally in the context of a specific mission-critical document-intensive departmental process. Now there are a wide variety of ECM suites and platforms, capture solutions, document management solutions, point solutions and file sharing applications, and the price point of “doing document management” is within the reach of almost any organization, dramatically expanding the pool of potential customers.
- Capitalize on chaos. Organizations don’t know what to do about increasing information management chaos and greater risks associated with managing this chaos and they need your expertise. As technology has evolved, the ability to produce information has outgrown the ability to consume and organize it. This presents a number of challenges to organizations including how to find information, how to ensure access to it now and over time, how to improve (or establish) control over it, and how to reduce the risk it may bring to the organization in terms of failing to meet legal obligations. Your assignment (this is an unprecedented opportunity!) is to become the trusted advisor to help organizations sort through this mess.
- Pick your sweet spot amidst the chaos. Differentiate your expertise. SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) are looking for document management solutions that are: 1) easy to implement, 2) easy to use and 3) sold to the business rather than IT. The good news is that there are a number of solutions to choose from in crafting your offering. The bad news is that the solution you sell ultimately won’t be enough by itself to differentiate you. You need to add to this mix knowledge and expertise related to either particular processes (finance, HR, contract administration, marketing, sales) or a particular industry (pick one or two).
- Change your marketing approach. Capitalize on new opportunities. The process of selling B2B (business to business) document solutions is changing dramatically. A recent CEB (formerly Corporate Executive Board Company) study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60 percent of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier. This means your company needs to be positioned in the educational stage of the procurement process earlier than ever. The old days of sending off a brochure or PDF to the administration or office manager comparing your hardware to others in the marketplace as a vehicle to open a conversation are over.
- Change your sales approach. Become a top performer. Perhaps the most important tip looks at the results of a CEB survey of 6,000 sales representatives across nearly 100 companies from a variety of geographic locations and industries. Their goal was to understand the different types of B2B selling strategies and their relative success.
Survey found there are 5 distinct selling profiles:
- Relationship builders: Build advocates within prospect. Generous in giving time to prospects; gets along with everyone.
- Hard workers: Go the extra mile. Is self-motivated and doesn’t give up easily. What they lack in natural sales skills they make up for with hard work and dedication.
- Lone wolves: Follow their instincts. Is self-assured and often difficult to control. This is often a star performer but often doesn’t work well with others and may not pay close attention to existing processes and procedures.
- Reactive problem solvers: Responsive and focused on detail and follow-through.
- Challengers: Understands the customer’s business and challenges the customer’s assumptions. Often a debater and perceived to be troublemakers like the lone wolves.
The authors of the study found that the best performer was the Challenger.