Skip The Demo Show Customers How You Use Imaging
This VAR will make $1 million in imaging sales this year by promoting its own success with the technology.
Earning $1 million in imaging sales this year was not part of Office Communications Systems' (OCS) (San Antonio) original business plan. This revenue has been an unexpected but welcome bonus, attributable to OCS' ability to recognize a good business opportunity when it comes along.
In 1983, OCS was founded as a dealer of copy machines, fax machines, and other office equipment. This remains a primary focus of the company today. During its twenty-year tenure in the copier industry, OCS dabbled somewhat in document imaging -- selling an occasional microfilm or microfiche system, or an isolated proprietary electronic imaging solution. However, it wasn't until a few years ago that the company got serious about selling the technology. It was at this time that OCS gained first-hand experience of document imaging's impact on its own internal operations.
In 1998, OCS decided it needed to get better control over its accounts payable and receivable processes. At the time, OCS employees had to dig through boxes of paper files to locate documents necessary to address customer and vendor requests. This process slowed response times, preventing OCS from taking advantage of early discounts from vendors and delaying invoice distribution to customers. This not only cost OCS thousands of dollars a year, but it also had a negative affect on the company's reputation. OCS began to search for a solution to this problem and decided to implement DocuWare (Newburgh, NY), an electronic document imaging storage and retrieval system. This software allowed OCS to scan all of its paper documents into an electronic image repository and manage image workflow and retrieval electronically via a desktop or laptop computer.
The ability to access electronic files on command improved OCS' response time and productivity, generating a quick payback on the solution. The company soon extended use of the imaging platform beyond the accounting department to every workgroup in the organization. Furthermore, OCS knew that many of its copier clients were challenged by paper flow issues similar to those it once faced. The company believed it could successfully sell document imaging solutions to these clients by using its own success story as a case in point.
Use Yourself As An Imaging Case Study
OCS generates its sales leads through telemarketing and general prospecting, like most of its competitors. Similarly, the company's initial contact calls to new leads are basically information gathering sessions where OCS sales representatives assess the needs and buying potential of each customer. It is during the next stage that OCS attempts to differentiate itself. Once a lead is identified as a good sales prospect (e.g. the contacts can make buying decisions, they have a definite need for the products, their purchasing timeframe is six months or less, and they can achieve a reasonable ROI), OCS encourages the potential customer to visit its corporate office. OCS actually uses the technology it sells and these visits illustrate that the VAR can deliver on its promises to customers, adding to the company's credibility. The 2,000-square-foot digitally connected product showroom located at OCS' headquarters also generates great up-sell opportunities for the VAR.
"Even if a copier prospect isn't interested in an imaging solution going into a sale, they are inevitably drawn to the scanning activity that occurs in our office," says Neil O'Mahoney, document imaging manager for OCS. "Simply seeing the imaging system in action is often enough to generate new and sudden interest in the technology. Similarly, our imaging software prospects will require hardware components to complete the system. We offer several devices that are compatible with the software and can provide customers with one-stop shopping."
While showcasing the imaging system at work on-site generates new business opportunities among prospects uninterested in the technology prior to the office visit, it also helps close deals among customers with preexisting imaging aspirations. During an office tour, OCS ensures that imaging prospects spend time in the OCS department that mirrors the customer's (e.g. accounting, human resources, shipping and receiving). By seeing how document imaging is applied to relieve the pain points of their specific department, prospects gain a greater appreciation for the power of the technology.
"When representatives from an accounting department come to visit, we introduce them to our head of accounting," says O'Mahoney. "She shows the prospects how she can resolve a vendor payment issue over the phone in a matter of minutes by immediately accessing images of the purchase request, a purchase order, a shipping receipt, and an invoice. I could easily demonstrate this same process while on a sales call at the customer's office. However, it has much more impact when delivered by someone who works in that environment every day."
Sell Imaging At A Departmental Level
OCS has had to fine-tune its method of selling document imaging solutions over time. When the company first began offering the technology in 1999, it generated a great deal of interest, but closed few sales. OCS attributes this to a poor initial sales strategy.
"We were so impressed by our own imaging solution that we tried to sell every module the technology offered and suggested immediate enterprise-wide implementation," says O'Mahoney. "The $70,000 to $80,000 price tags that accompanied these proposals were difficult for prospects to swallow. Plus, enterprise-wide adoption of an imaging system required the initiative to be approved by several executives, a board of directors, or put out for bid. This created never-ending sales cycles."
This obstacle prompted OCS to think back to how it initially purchased the technology. OCS originally implemented the imaging system in its accounting department and the solution grew throughout the enterprise incrementally, based on its own momentum. Once again, OCS used itself as a case study.
"Today we focus on delivering imaging solutions that address the pain points of individual departments such as accounts payable and receivable, human resources, and shipping and receiving," says O'Mahoney. "We pitch a pretty basic system with a price tag of about $15,000 to $20,000 to resolve these departmental issues. It is much easier to get people to commit to spending this kind of money, and everybody in the organization doesn't have to bless it."
Furthermore, most of these departmental customers eventually wish to expand the imaging system throughout the enterprise to increase the efficiency scale of the solution -- mirroring the technology progression pattern OCS itself experienced. This creates follow-up sales opportunities for OCS which helps them forge stronger business relationships.
You Can Be Successful Selling A Single Imaging Platform
Many document management VARs choose to sell multiple imaging software products and push one or another based on the customer's application. OCS takes a different approach and standardizes all of its imaging applications around the DocuWare product.
"Focusing on one imaging platform helps us increase our effectiveness," says O'Mahoney. "Our imaging specialists need to be trained only on a single product. This narrow focus allows them to become experts on the software and mold it successfully to fit multiple applications."
Many might argue that this standardized approach is limiting, but so far it has worked well for OCS. In 2003, the company made $800,000 in revenue on document imaging sales and was the second highest DocuWare reseller in the Americas. Furthermore, this $800,000 in sales was at a 62% profit margin. "When reselling copy machines and other hardware, you're lucky to make margins of 20%," says O'Mahoney. "The 62% margins we're making on imaging sales have us pretty ecstatic." The ecstasy for OCS has carried over to this year, as the company is expected to exceed $1 million in imaging sales for 2004.