Guest Column | March 17, 2009

Fostering Success In A Down Economy And Beyond: Maintaining Your Focus To Boost Sales

David Talarico

Written by: David Talarico, VP of Channel Sales, North America, AnyDoc Software

Helping prospects do more with less is a familiar refrain given the current state of the economy. And, during a period when a significant number of companies are freezing capital expenditures — except in cases of demonstrated ROI — cost avoidance is a critical piece of the business case for automation.

A recent 2009 AIIM survey (www.aiim.org), “Making the Case for Document Management in Challenging Times,” reported that 69% of survey respondents agreed that “capital requests are much more difficult to get approved than last year.” In addition, 69% also agreed that “only those projects that can demonstrate positive hard dollar returns THIS YEAR are being approved.” Finally, one of the top reasons an organization has not implemented document management and scanning/capture technologies to date is that the ROI has not been clear.

So, it seems rather obvious that you should ensure each member of your sales team can calculate and clearly demonstrate ROI to your prospects. But it is also important to remember the value of the technology and consider how you can best showcase the solution. Opportunity stems not just from the current economic environment but also from the ability of technology to eliminate manual processes and enhance efficiency as it relates to a prospect’s business issue.

Proving this point, as other market segments are reporting sharp declines in sales, the document imaging and data capture segment has remained relatively healthy. According to Gartner, the worldwide ECM software market is expected to grow more than 12% per year through 2010, from $2.6 billion in 2006 to more than $4.2 billion in 2010. This projected growth is a testament to the power of automated document, data capture, and classification to do what it says it will—saving end-users both time and money. Not only does automation speed the flow of information, but it allows for greater throughput — without requiring additional staff.

Delores Krutchen, VP of Eastman Kodak Business Solutions and Services, echoed this thought, and was quoted recently as saying, “Now more than ever, a great opportunity lies before us, as businesses are asked to truly do more with less.” She continued, “Document imaging is really about driving efficiency, which enables us to drive value to the customer, and drive value to the business.”

During my nearly 20 years experience in the document and data capture market, I’ve spent a significant amount of time working with both channel partners and end users to facilitate joint satisfaction. During these past two decades, I’ve noticed several critical success factors that successful reseller organizations share. These factors may seem simplistic, but in the current business environment where competition for the attention of a limited — and potentially a dramatically slashed — capital project budget is fierce, it can be the difference between winning the opportunity or not. And as the economy improves, the fundamental strategies perfected now will position you well into the future.

The first critical success factor is being able to truly hear the end user and identify the business case for automation. This is an opportunity for the reseller to ascertain exactly what the specific business issue is that the prospect desires to solve. It seems straightforward but often what the end user initially states as its biggest challenge is just a symptom of an underlying issue. The most successful resellers are able to listen to the prospect and interact in a way to quickly get to the root issue — opening the door to present the best possible solution, a second critical factor.

Not only does a ‘best’ solution address the prospect’s business issue, but it is also the most complete. From a prospect perspective, this includes not only solution functionality, but the software must also be easy to implement and maintain, driving a low cost of ownership. Two common roadblocks to investing in a project are the reluctance of a prospect to undergo a complex implementation and the absence of comfort of being able to customize their solution without time-consuming programming. Overcoming these concerns is especially critical when working with a prospect to replace an ineffective legacy system that is already in place.

Once the business issue is identified, the business case constructed, and the solution conceptualized, preparation meets opportunity. A reseller must be able to confidently demonstrate the product features comprising the solution — according to the prospects requirements. Not only does this show off the product to its full advantage but it soothes prospect fears that a messy implementation will be followed by a less than functional solution.

Finally, the most successful resellers partner with solution vendors, rather than simply represent a variety of vendor products. By selecting a solution vendor with proven products, a solid industry reputation, proactive sales support, and educational opportunities, a reseller gets a head start on the competition. In addition, resellers with true cooperative partner relationships benefit from solution configuration and technical support, and actively participate in proactive education on the products and sales process.

Independently, these simple factors don’t seem to make a dramatic difference in performance, but combined, I’ve seen reseller revenues rise well above their otherwise equal peers with the same opportunities. Consistently deployed, regardless of the economy, you’ll gain a competitive advantage in capturing sales — building the foundation for lasting, profitable customer relationships.

With nearly 20 years experience in the imaging and data capture marketplace, David Talarico is a recognized industry veteran. As VP of channel sales for AnyDoc Software, he is involved in the signing and ongoing management of AnyDoc Software’s reseller partners. Talarico works with resellers to build executive-level relations with key client accounts. He can be reached at info@anydocsoftware.com or 1-800-775-3222.