Selling EDM & ECM in 2014 and Beyond4 Feb, 2014 By: David Ramos
The annual ITEX Expo is a great event and go-to resource for the independent channel. You’ll find everything from good channel networking, updates on industry trends and products, to relevant, cutting-edge education to help your business grow. Steve Behm, Vice President of Sales for DocuWare, and I will be speaking at the upcoming ITEX event in Las Vegas on March 12th (9:00am) at the Rio Hotel. In our session, we will discuss the future prospects for and keys to, sales effectiveness specific to the business process automation market (or ECM, EDM). It will be a great forum to discuss this subject and with one of the best in selling and teaching on how to market business process automation (BPA) software.
Cloud computing, mobile computing and smart devices represent the major forces impacting the business process management market. Many in the traditional office equipment space have either been reluctant to start this sales initiative or have entered the market with mixed results. One common theme in business success is that of focus. If you take our industry and its corresponding evolution, for example, (and based on my consulting experience with clients), you have had success in the analog to digital conversion - once you had a point person or specialist in place to lead the initiative. And/or in the mono to color evolution with color specialists or the launch of selling high and low end production with a production specialist or selling Managed Print Services…the common thread is that all of these required a dedicated resource (or resources) over a period of time to be successful, as you launched the initiative and supported your existing sales force through the transition.
If you are looking to diversify your revenue streams and EDM/ECM is the market you are targeting to help you accomplish this goal, what class of sales professional do you need to lead this push? You will need an individual or team of individuals with a combination of skills. Strong prospecting and territory development skills along with the ability to think strategically about restarting this initiative or growing a new practice are, for many independent dealers, the foundation. But beyond desire and hard work, what else is required?
Similar to sales cycles in Managed Print Services, the requirement to develop and execute a great needs assessment is paramount to success. Without the needs assessment how would you know what are your customers’ business problems? And of equal importance, to help the customer or prospect internalize how those issues impact their business? The importance of how to complete an EDM/ECM needs assessment: gather the business requirements, determine the business objectives that may come from a line of business in addition to C-level execs, design a process solution supported by your software, and report to the client in a format that is easy for them to internalize, is a critical success factor in selling software. The needs assessment is where the rubber meets the road; this is how you thoroughly understand customers' business problems and are able to present and communicate the true business impact and benefits to the client and prospect.
Critical Skills for BPA Sales Success:
- Sales skills - (general sales skills and specific sales education in BPA/EDM/ECM)
- Interviewing skills - especially at the management level for line of businesses ie: accounting, human resources, etc. (identifying needs & speaking a language they understand i.e. not technical jargon, speak the language of business)
- Some Vertical Expertise - understanding specific business processes and language in certain vertical markets, (ie: Loan or Insurance Policy application processes for financial services or patient on boarding for admissions in healthcare facilities.)
- Technical Expertise - (design and installation guidance)
- Writing Skills - (preparing detailed proposals/reports and implementation documentation)
- Pricing - (preparing detailed cost estimates along with ROI business impact)
- Project Management - (implementation and execution of the entire EDM process from identifying needs. Making sure that it all comes together in the end to the client’s satisfaction.)
InfoTrends market research shows that the BPA/EDM/ECM market is expected to grow significantly from 2012 to 2017. In addition, automation in business processes across a variety of paper intensive horizontal and vertical show tremendous opportunity especially in the SMB space. This represents a dynamic opportunity for the independent channel that requires business planning, strategy and proper execution.
Regardless of your attendance in our upcoming ITEX session, I hope to see at this annual industry event. I promise you, the expo won’t disappoint as you will walk away with great information from trusted and credible resources to assist you in further developing your company, your employees, and yourself.
David Ramos is the Director of Channel Strategy Service for InfoTrends. He is responsible for managing custom consulting projects, providing forecast analysis, developing market sizing estimates, and marketing channel strategy services to independent companies in the office equipment and IT services space. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 781-616-2151.