Dealers have a variety of options to add to their client offerings.
According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the enterprise content management (ECM) opportunity has grown to some $60 billion (from $23 billion five years ago), with the global pandemic serving as a boon to accelerate growth. The need for remote access grew as COVID-19 began spreading globally in earnest 13 months ago, forcing more people to work from home.
Taylor Grosso, director of channel sales – Americas for Laserfiche, believes dealers should consider selling document-management and ECM software because scalable technology portfolios offer ongoing opportunities for service revenue and lucrative integrated enterprise deployments. His firm develops digital storage and automation to simplify documents, records, and business process management (e.g., accounts payable, case management, and HR onboarding). Laserfiche’s compliance solutions go beyond search abilities and some metadata, according to Grosso.
Selling software is a different game for sales reps accustomed to primarily hawking hardware. What do dealers need to know to sell an ECM/doc-management solution effectively? According to Grosso, some pain points are revealed organically by prospects such as limiting output and increasing throughput.
“If processing a contract takes three weeks, that can severely limit a company’s sales capacity,” he noted. Also, lost documents can mean big trouble in the event of an audit. And, if infection threats from malicious software such as ransomware are a concern, he added the fact that ECM is backed up and secure is a major selling point.
Preconfigured software often fits the bill for many common-use document management/ECM cases, empowering smaller organizations to digitize and automate central business processes such as invoice processing and employee management. Canned solutions can be deployed literally in hours, including training, revealed Michael Frattini, senior vice president, operations, Square 9 Softworks. Other ready-to-use packages may take a few days to implement.
DocuWare offers over-the-counter office automation tools that it calls Preconfigured Cloud Solutions. Such tools in the cloud (see sidebar “Budget Benefits”) can help replace manual, paper-based, and error-prone workflow with fast, adaptable, and automated processes.
Larger customer environments typically require more robust platforms such as an MS SQL database server, explained Frattini. Microsoft’s relational database management system’s primary function is storing and retrieving data as requested by other software applications that may run either on the same computer or on another computer across a network. One common frustration in offices and accounting departments is the inability to pay on time. What are the firm’s accounts payable procedures? Dealer reps need answers to basic inquiries: Which forms are employed? How are vendor invoices approved? How are payments confirmed? How “findable” are signed documents?
DocuWare claims its customized invoice processing cuts manual data entry by up to 95%. In addition to automating workflow and exception handling, users can reclaim early-payment discounts. Digital invoices with intelligent indexing can be securely stored for instant retrieval. Preconfigured workflows are used for approval routing, or end users can employ straight-through processing to help expedite payments and keep teams on track.
Alabama-based soft drink producer/bottler Buffalo Rock sought a more efficient document imaging solution for its accounts-payable team.
“We needed it to integrate with both our Oracle software and Outlook,” said Vincent Holmes, the company’s document imaging manager. “After reviewing five different companies, we chose DocuWare because it had what we needed.”
There are ways in which dealer representatives can tell what level of document management or ECM customers, like Buffalo Rock, require.
“Sales reps need to take a prescriptive approach to uncover pain points,” said Square 9’s Frattini. To find out where it hurts, “they need to do more than show tools in a toolbox,” he advised, adding that dealer reps should come armed with questions that uncover need such as:
- Has the prospect already implemented a digital transformation initiative?
- Are they looking for payment for off-site document storage?
- Do they have on-site inventory?
- Are they printing unnecessarily?
Equipment dealers have unique leverage, according to Frattini. “When it comes to print volumes and utilization, where is it all going?” he asked. Once qualified, most customers need their hands held beyond order fulfillment and implementation, so ongoing support becomes critical.
Laserfiche’s Grosso concurred that learning about a prospect’s content-management and governance strategies is essential. “Find out what CMS [content management system] or ERP [enterprise resource planning] software they are using,” he urged.
Dealer reps do not need to go too deep into the weeds when it comes to knowing about software. Vendors, like Laserfiche, can help with the details.
“Reps should know the benefits of a good ECM solution,” Grosso explained, “but digital transformation is a journey.”
Beyond marketing collateral (case studies and talk tracks), webinars, and tech support, channel-centric vendors offer best-of-breed training programs for their latest doc-management and ECM products.
Square 9 posts a curriculum online for basic, front-end training. For higher-level customers, DocuWare President Jim Roberts said there needs to be an overlay in the middle to assist with the technical part of the solution. That’s where firms like his come in to do the heavy lifting. DocuWare brings in regional sales directors as part of its standard partner offering.
“We prefer to augment our online Document Sales Advisor Training Program with an in-person presence,” explained Roberts, who has work-roots planted deep in process automation for the manufacturing sector, where doing more with less is par for the course. “By going out and helping people sell in the field, they [customers] get to see our guys in action and vice versa.”
Similarly, Laserfiche has partner/territory managers who engage with customers “to plug into their sales processes,” said Grosso. “Our territory teams find out where hardware is installed and conduct customized demos using a customer’s own documentation and process steps. That way, it’s easier for them to understand the efficiencies.”
For DocuWare’s regional sales directors, the tag-team approach could amount to as many as four or five trips each quarter, covering multiple days per visit in the pre- and post-COVID world.
“Creating a foundation for learning is a journey,” said DocuWare’s Roberts, adding that the end goal is to transfer enough knowledge for customers to run document management autonomously and create their own destiny.
Unearthing the Opportunities
When it comes to sales strategies for uncovering opportunities, many industry experts favor a horizontal approach. “Just look at the marketplace,” urged Roberts. “These processes are common in almost all businesses—take incoming invoice processing/scanning and optimization, for instance, or cyber-security.”
Grosso agreed, citing HR onboarding and accounts receivables as two crossover areas. He notes that there are vertical-market opportunities, too, but warns of nuances and differences among education, financial, government, and manufacturing sectors. “Laserfiche’s enterprise solutions are more granular,” Grosso said, and comply with government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
VIDEO: THE EDUCATIONAL VERTICAL MARKET
Top 5 Elements of ECM
1. Capture documents digitally.
2. Store documents in a digital repository.
3. Retrieve documents, regardless of device or location.
4. Automate document-driven processes.
5. Secure documents and reduce organizational risk.
Economic justification is a common objection to the document management/ECM proposition: Prospects may wonder (sometimes aloud) whether it is “a luxury or a need,” noted Square 9’s Frattini. Does the software solution outweigh the expense of storing, managing, and moving documents?
“We teach our reps to ‘reduce to the ridiculous’ by taking large amounts and breaking down costs over three-year time spans,” noted Frattini.
Labor reduction factors into the equation as well.
“There are no employee benefits or PTO [paid time off] associated with Square 9’s automated solutions,” pointed out Frattini.
Demonstrating value is critical to successfully selling custom-configured software solutions. Seeing is believing, so showing people how problems can be solved is a big part of what Laserfiche, Square 9, and other software developers do. To comprehend the potential ROI, prospects need to experience using the software suggested by DocuWare’s Roberts . Plus, understanding their needs and pain points requires consultative engagements on the part of dealers.
Still, many customers push back, insisting “their processes are being handled by this or that business application,” observed Laserfiche’s Grosso. “But the goal should be system integration and filling in the blanks with a content strategy that ties things together and makes them more efficient.”
He added that most customers appreciate a nice, clean dashboard for electronic forms set-up. Some may use another document management system that they’ve outgrown, exceeding basic capture, catch and retrieve requirements. “We convert these all the time,” said Grosso, noting that as many as 50% of Laserfiche’s implementations are replacement projects.
Another frequent objection revolves around security and compliance. “Many people have concerns about the cloud and operating with no [computer] infrastructure,” said Frattini. “We can spin up a server in a matter of minutes, but questions about confidentiality and breaches need to be dealt with. We check those boxes because Square 9’s cloud solutions are both SOC [system and organization controls] and HIPAA-certified.”
Laserfiche assures customers that its cloud solutions are highly secure, featuring enterprise-level authentication. The firm supports customizable authentication features such as single sign-on (SSO) with Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS), native password controls, and two-factor authentication for internal and external users. For data in transit over public networks, Laserfiche Cloud uses TLS encryption, and AES-256 encryption is utilized for data at rest, including back-ups. Automated back-ups are encrypted and secure, while detection systems monitor for potential intrusions and unauthorized changes.
“In Laserfiche Cloud, it’s easier for us to determine where requests are in the process at a glance, and the transition itself was fairly easy,” reported Andrew McElrath, strategic project manager at casino management company Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures.
As part of its return-to-work (RTW) procedures, a private school near Chicago electronically records and tracks COVID questionnaire responses using Google Forms, which is among the simpler methods of administering such surveys. The software is included as part of the free, web-based Docs Editors suite. Clicking and dragging misplaced files within Microsoft Windows’ folders is another basic solution that “might be sufficient for smaller organizations,” suggested Square 9’s Frattini. However, the search function can become cumbersome as file names and sub-folders grow in complexity, he warns.
Some RTW rules are more advanced, requiring online web forms, or inputting information via a mobile application (app). Managing such e-documentation and content at the enterprise level is all about efficiency for DocuWare’s Roberts. As part of its RTW portfolio, last August, DocuWare began offering a COVID screening eForm and workflow that employs QR-code technology to facilitate contactless, compliant visitor and employee check-in/check-out. Each eForm can be customized and configured according to a company’s preferred screening process and added to any new or existing system. The eForm ensures compliance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) & Prevention guidelines, which advise all businesses to implement and update a plan specific to each workplace.
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