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A Viable alternative training program

6 Feb, 2007 By: Steve Breault imageSource

A Viable alternative training program

What is the common denominator among office equipment dealers to succeed in
the document management business? Is it the technical support team? No!
Technical people learn applications, workflow design, installation and support
procedures quickly. They understand the relevant technical terms. Dealing with
databases and ODBC connectivity is a walk in the park. They navigate through the
most complex systems as easily as a heart surgeon threading his/her way through
intricate vein structures.

The Key to Selling Success in the document management business has always
been to rely heavily on the sales representative. Although sales reps can learn
how to present a document management solution, how to walk prospects through
some applications, and how to close a sale, the task is becoming much more
daunting as digital technology rapidly escalates. So, at the present time, are
they enmass learning how to address this issue exceptionally well? The answer is
no. So the question becomes, why? And what can we do to help solve this
universal problem?

Dealer Dilemma

Dealers have much to consider when evaluating one solution over another.
Each company’s outside pressure to “sell our software” is enormous. Dealers find
themselves in the position of either taking a big leap of faith into the
document management provider arena, or bypassing the opportunity entirely, with
perhaps a devastating impact on their future business.

Initial training and recurrent training programs can be very expensive,
time-consuming and often arduous tasks. Many dealers feel they simply do not
have the time, the experience, the intestinal fortitude and the resources to
allocate funds toward a business enterprise that, while seemingly the hottest
money maker in town, may not turn profitable. This unchartered territory, or as
I like to refer to it as, the “Sales Rep Fear Factor Zone,” can be easily
circumvented by using alternative customer/prospect generation tactics.

Sales Rep Woes – Don’t Tread on Me

Why are sales reps having such a difficult time transitioning to software
solution sales? Is it lack of available training, inability to comprehend or
process? No! Are other pressing responsibilities a contributing factor? Yes.
Lastly, is learning everything they need to know, in order to take the
leadership role of “presenting-through-closing” a solution, really the best use
of their time? Many of us, emphatically and quantifiably, think not. If, in our
“perfect world” their primary focus was selling document management software
solutions, then classroom, e-training and teaching seminars would most likely be
sufficient. All of the mainstream developers including Docushare, Doculex,
Docuware and many others, have outstanding training programs.

Yet, additionally, in a sales rep’s “real world” which includes hardware
quotas, customer service, new hardware product knowledge, support responsibility
and a myriad check-list of other duties, becoming a good document management
expert simply eats heartily into their already busy day, often with minimal
results and enough heartburn and heartbreak to last a lifetime.

Until now, most solutions developers have “assumed” that sales training is
the answer. That’s the big “selling” ticket every software provider brings to
the table. Millions of dollars are spent developing training programs.
Unfortunately, performance history amongst the majority of dealers, especially
small to mid-sized, is proving that this assumption is often incorrect, or at
the least, unfeasible and not cost-effective. As dealers teeter on the
precipice, they must ask themselves if the training platforms being offered by
the hungry horde of software providers truly do meet the needs of their sales
reps. Is the training, while very sophisticated and well programmed, really the
best or only solution? Or is there a better, faster, more productive way to get
into the game and succeed?

What Is Everyone Doing?

A review of the top “big name” solutions developers reveals an outstanding
array of diverse sales training methodologies, including in-house and developer
on-site training, e-training, web-accessible training, videos, CD training,
white paper collaterals and more. Many are well designed, easy to use and
thorough. However, even the best training, some of which can be expensive and
time consuming even as part of a Reseller Partner Agreement, does not
necessarily guarantee that the sales rep is prepared to walk a prospect through
the critical steps required to assure an absolutely successful application
presentation, solution demonstration, customer Q&A and installation.

Is a Viable Alternative to Formal Sales Training the Answer?

Standard industry-sanctioned Sales Rep Training, in its most common and
traditional format, does not always work the most effectively. No amount of
cajoling, brow-beating or veiled threat can eliminate the “fear factor”
experienced by most sales reps, including this hard-boiled solution sales
monger. Expecting the hardware trained sales rep to change horses blindfolded in
mid-stream, and without consequences, is unrealistic.

Companies need to provide a “buffet” of prospecting and sales generation
formats and tools deliberately designed to support the company in all areas,
relieving the sales rep to “be all things to all people” or, in this case, to
have all the answers for all clients’ needs. Various systems are being created
to address this, including my company’s particular systems where we seek to
create significant “hot” customer prospects while filling the essential
pipeline. Our Member Resellers can participate in our Prospect Generation &
Support Program which provides the Member with a Dedicated Sales Consultant
integrated with a strategic release e-mail campaign, personal follow-up phone
calls and pre-scheduled (sponsored & conducted) customer web demonstrations. We
walk a Member’s customer through a document management solution, soup to nuts if
need be, and couple that with our Earn While You Learn Program where our Members
can pick and choose the “meal” that best reflects their business strategy. In
fact, we have seen sales reps with no prior document management software
solution experience jabbering away like syndicated talk show hosts, confident
and ready to handle any customer’s question. Sales reps are encouraged and
management is confident in the overall process.

The bottom line here is simple.  Think outside the standard “training”
protocols. Generate new sales while assuring that the customer receives what
they need. Relieve the sales rep from the pressures of trying to be all things
to all people in all areas. Create a workable solution for your company where
everyone wins!

Steven A. Breault is President & CEO of VircoSoft Corporation, a
nationally recognized provider of Total Document Management software.
Headquartered in VA, he can be contacted at sbreault@vircosoft.com or at
703.385.0101. For more information visit

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