Profitable Partnering4 May, 2015 By: Christina Robbins, Digitech Systems, Inc
Are you getting everything you need from your document management hardware and software partners? Although it may seem impossible to have all your needs met by a single, strong partner, you can learn to ask better questions during the vetting process to increase your chances of profitable partnering.
The experts at CustomerCentric Selling point out that ultimately business partners are looking for two things from one another: 1) the opportunity to make money and 2) someone with whom it is easy to do business. As you work with customers and partners, you’ll find the right balance for number one, but number two can be tricky. We all like to think we’re easy to do business with; one of the best ways to make sure is to resolve as many challenges for customers as we can with the simplest possible technology solution. To do so, you need a technology partner who meets a wide variety of customer needs rather than many partners who specialize in meeting only one or two needs each. You’ll also need to consider the way you represent and sell your technology. Today’s technology purchasers don’t want one-off solutions that stand alone in their enterprise. Rather, they’re looking for resellers who can help them understand complex business problems and who can recommend solutions that solve multiple challenges at once. Consider the following two questions when vetting technology partners:
1. What needs does the product suite meet for customers?
2. How does your product suite solve complex business problems rather than simply providing technology?
What needs does your product suite meet?
Profitable partnering requires a commitment to a comprehensive business model from your hardware and software partners. Look to consolidate partnerships to a key few who offer a wide range of products to meet multiple business information management needs.
Think about this from your customer’s perspective. They don’t want a complicated solution that requires bolting together parts and pieces from several technology companies. This is both complex and cumbersome. When something goes wrong, it can be difficult to identify and hold accountable the specific product causing the problem, and the custom code required to hook pieces together introduces yet another potential spot for trouble to occur.
So what technologies should be included from your Enterprise Content Management (ECM) manufacturers? We recommend partnering with companies that offer the following at a minimum:
• Document capture/scanning
• Secure document repository (this can be cloud or in-house)
• Email management
• Advanced capture (data validation and routing)
• Forms processing (data classification and data extraction)
Realistically, your list should be determined by your client’s needs. If you have an existing customer base, conduct a quick survey to find out what types of information they currently have a need to more effectively manage. Chances are, you’ll see paper documents, electronic files, images, email, and forms on the list. When you consolidate their needs to get a picture of your average customer, you’ll have a good idea what to demand from your technology partners.
How does your product suite solve business problems?
Shifting from selling technology to solving business problems requires a change within your own business. Consider how you market and talk about the technologies you sell. The glow of buying the “shiny new technology toy” has passed, and business executives don’t always know how to apply technology that is simply marketed by what it can do (features). Buyers are now motivated to address real business problems like reducing costs and improving efficiency (benefits). Give your website and brochures a quick once-over. Do you spend more time talking about features or benefits? Now is a great time to begin making this simple shift in language to increase your effectiveness. And don’t forget to put these new words and phrases into the mouths of your sales people as well. Long demonstrations of buttons and screens will continue to be ineffective if not paired with how those features directly address the challenges your prospect is actually facing.
The great news is that most ECM technologies offer these benefits! A recent study released by Nucleus Research found that the average ECM implementation offers a 750% ROI! For each $1.00 your customer invests in buying from you, they’ll return $7.50 to their bottom line. So, it should be “falling off a log” easy to offer real value to your customers, right? Great! Start measuring the benefits you offer and include that information in your marketing and sales efforts.
How does this apply to profitable partnerships? You need to work with technology partners who not only use this benefit-based language to describe what they have to offer, you also want partners who offer products designed for complex business problems. For example, let’s say you speak to a prospect who wants to convert their paper-based invoicing to digital. You may be tempted to offer only scanning services, but you can actually be much more helpful! Ask your prospect more questions to determine if the following technologies might produce a more business process based solution:
• Forms processing to extract data and classify invoices by total amount, vendor, or another key variable
• Advanced capture technologies to verify that line item and invoice totals are correct and to match vendor information to a database
• Workflow capabilities that allow the customer to route received invoices through approval processes automatically
• Email management may even be a fit if the bulk of invoices received enter the organization via email
Become more than simply the company who scans their invoices; offer a solution that cleans up their entire invoice process to improve information control and efficiency. In this way, you become a valuable business partner for your customers, and they’ll turn to you again to help them with additional business processes in the future.
How Does it Really Work?
You’ve probably heard similar messages before, and what may be holding you back from making this change for your own business is a difficulty picturing how to make it really work. Check out these two examples of real document management resellers who’ve already made the switch to BPM and profitable partnering creating competitive advantage for their organizations.
MuniMetriX, a document management reseller in Nevada, is helping one of the world’s largest software companies with a massive repository of software licensing contracts. What started years ago as a simple cloud-based ECM sale, now includes scanning, classification, and indexing of license information for their customer. In fact, the software company is even using forms processing to sort license contracts and extract key information. You may be asking, what’s unique about this story? All of these needs were met through a relationship MuniMetriX has with a SINGLE technology partner! The software company has gone from 55 minutes per contract to less than 30. The real kicker though, is that they knew they’d pay for the system twice if they could shave just 5 minutes off their process! Early ROI estimate = 900%!
By working with a single technology partner, MuniMetriX ensures that all of the parts and pieces of the solution work seamlessly together. Nothing was bolted together with custom code, making it more likely to continuously function and simpler for MuniMetriX to support if something were to go wrong.
DataBank, one of the largest document management resellers in the United States, is working with a large state school board association that was struggling to process hundreds of workman’s compensation applications, which include medical forms, claims forms and other complex documents. The association had fallen so far behind, that it was taking their staff 27 days to process a single application within their claim payment process.
By viewing this challenge as a whole business process, DataBank was able to help the school board association to isolate not only the types of records that needed management, but also what was involved in the claim payment process. They implemented a solution that includes business-process-friendly advanced capture technologies to identify and classify the forms and documents as they come in and workflow technologies to route the information through a complex approval process automatically. The school board association has cleared out their backlog and now handles new claims the same day they arrive!
As you review your technology partnerships keep your eyes on the things you can do together to create profitable partnering. Don’t neglect the powerful motivator of being a reseller who is easy to work with. You can boost this “likability factor” by solving complex business challenges with simple technology solutions that include multiple aspects of information management and that allow you to approach customers’ problems from a process perspective.
Christina Robbins is Marketing Manager at Digitech Systems, Inc., which enables businesses to securely manage, retrieve and store corporate information of any kind using either PaperVision® Enterprise content management (ECM) software or a trusted cloud-based ECM service, ImageSilo®. They are the source for EfficiencyNOW! ControlNOW! MoneyNOW! ECMNOW! Awards include InfoWorld 100, CRN’s Emerging Tech Dynamos; multiple Nucleus Research ROI Awards. Buyer’s Lab has recognized them for best products in the enterprise capture & ECM fields. At http://www.digitechsystems.com