Document Management: The Missing Link12 Jan, 2007 By: Howard Meltzer imageSource
Document Management: The Missing Link
Document management software is a product category that is here to stay.
Whether you have taken the plunge or are still mulling it over, it is hard to
ignore the potential of combining software solutions with your imaging product
portfolio. Together, they are a legitimate differentiator that repositions your
company as a value-added supplier. That, in turn, can help to shore sagging
profit margins and create a competitive advantage.
Several months ago we addressed some of the realities and pitfalls that
dealers face when taking the plunge, including longer selling cycles; different
prospecting techniques; substantial training and vendor support requirements.
Since then, we have had the opportunity to participate in a client sponsored
focus group designed to determine if imaging hardware dealers were perceived as
legitimate system suppliers to the corporate world. The group consisted of a
cross section of professional purchasing and IT managers.
The consensus from the group was a lack of faith that office equipment
dealers could reliably support traditional imaging products and manage their
sophisticated software requirements. In short, dealers have a lot of work ahead
of them to overcome the pigeonhole perception that they are solely big iron
We are finding that virtually all of our dealer clients that have made the
transition and repositioned their companies as system providers share one common
denominator: they added a Document Systems Specialist (DSS) to their payroll.
Their titles may cover the waterfront, but they all have the same basic set of
skills and responsibilities.
It is a given that the bulk of dealer sales reps do not have the know-how or
credibility to analyze a prospect’s workflow problems and recommend software
solutions. The DSS enters and supports the sales process as a third party expert
– a combination high level salesperson and technical guru.
- The DSS have the technical skills to support a vendor’s sophisticated
software systems and applications.
- In some cases, the DSS functions in a support role to the sales force. In
other cases, the DSS is a full time sales representative that only sells
software solutions. In many cases they function as a combination of both. Each
has its pros and cons.
- In the support role, the DSS is there to add credibility to the sales process
when going after a new client.
- In the sales only position, the DSS guarantees a dedicated sales focus on
document solutions. The flip side is that there may be resistance from the
hardware sales force. The other potential drawback is that the DSS may not be
adept at closing business.
- The DSS is essentially a broker between the client’s business problem and the
available technology that can be configured to solve the problem and create
additional value to the transaction.
- The DSS can also add value as a project manager. In this role, they set
specific expectations of what the solution will do for the client. They will
then track and support the project to ensure that the results meet the client’s
This is a difficult profile to recruit and hire. The ideal candidate
understands both business problems and technological solutions. They should
also have an aptitude for sales. The ideal candidate will have a combined
degree in business and information technology. The best source for recruiting
this hybrid set of skills is a local business college.
Once the position is filled, it is critically important that the candidate
receive a thorough grounding in all phases of your company’s business
objectives, your growth plan and your expectations for his/her contribution.
Conversely, your entire sales and service organizations must thoroughly
understand the candidate’s role and how they will function as a critical
addition to help make or keep the company successful, enhancing the overall
efforts of sales.