ECM-Slow Sales, No Sales, WHY?

I was sold on the idea 5 years ago ECM was the silver bullet. Became an expert on Docu-Everything and used the logic that If You Build It, They would come. What happened?

After attending trade shows, reading publications and speaking with peers, document imaging was going to be the silver bullet coming out of the economic downturn.  Determined and committed, I began discussions with several different software vendors, viewed demos and heard how easy the sale will be in a booming industry, the plunge was a no brainer.  The company selected Docu-Everything software [insert any software vendor] which was the best ECM software ever offered at a very competitive price.  After investing a lot of money to become an authorized reseller and sending staff to training, we were Docu-Everything experts and fully armed to deploy the troops to send sales skyrocketing, OR WERE WE???  The answer is an emphatic NO!!!  Chasing every opportunity, responding to RFP’s, canvassing any business with file cabinets, you name it, but the sales were dismal and it became fruitless to continue.  The silver bullet bombed, big time.

Unfortunately, the above scenario is far more of the norm than exception.  Companies sign with Docu-Everything, pay the reseller fee, get trained (certified as an authorized reseller) and go ‘gung ho’ to sell document imaging.  Sales were less than desirable, the boss was applying pressure and eventually INSANITY sets in, you know, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The white flag was raised and in frustration begged the question “WHY”?  With the best sales people on the planet that were Docu-Everything experts, a marketing team Google envied and support staff ready to help 24/7, how could this fail, “WHY”?  A 110% effort was put forth with a lot of hard work, meetings, proposals, emails etc. Of course every dog has its day and luck eventually takes your side to close a few deals just enough to win a few battles, but I could never pinpoint what differentiated those sales from all the deals lost.  Each time, you met with the customers, told them how great Docu-Everything was, showed them a demo, got the volumes of paper, submitted a proposal on time and followed up as a good sales person would do, but to no avail. So once again “WHY”?  It must be Docu-Everything software which was the best, is that WHY? “Why”, “Why, “Why, “Why”?

WHY #1. They didn’t know how to sell ECM.  These companies hadn’t the slightest clue of who, what, when, where and especially WHY.  ECM is a complex sale that requires knowing Who is a suspect or prospect, What the problem is [business or technical challenges], When to offer a designed solution to fix the problem, Where the advocates or opponents are, and WHY they need an ECM solution, justified with a proven ROI.

At the very least, get a better understanding of common business problems. Know the terms, speak their language, understand their workflows, then match a solution to that.

Why #2.  Just because you have the best sales people (they do know how to sell) and marketing personnel that are all trained on Docu-Everything, doesn’t make the sales numbers.  The “why” conundrum could have been solved here:  The sales people have to care or know how to ask the questions that finds the business problems by addressing how a solution specifically speeds up accounts payable, how it reduces the new hire on-boarding process from days to hours in HR, and how to streamline the shipping and receiving department for greater efficiency.

They have to know the cost of space, how much time is spent and amount of people handling paper; I could go on.  The marketing people have to know how to market. They have to know the above and targeting the right people in order to deliver a compelling message.  When this method is used, you become a consultant that is credible, trusted, respected and caring about truly helping.  Once you have identified the pain, designed a solution that fixes the problem and given a compelling reason to change, you are now in command of the deal.  “ECM Sales Training” is available which provides all of this.

Why #3.  Although professionally, I digress to Why #1. Most likely, because they didn’t know how to specifically sell ECM and follow the role of solution selling. They showed canned demos and didn’t have a smooth confident presentation that included virtual workflows, a targeted demo, and a needs assessment report.

Sales might have been completely different if the below was followed.  

  • Identifying a prospect from a suspect and engaging.DO NOT LEAD WITH SOLUTION!
  • Listen,listen,listen the customer will tell you everything if you let them.
  • Provide new insights to their current processes
  • Ask if a needs assessment can be done that will have a list of prepared questions and identify/create workflows. You can charge for this.
  • Educate customer about their present costs
  • Demonstrate a strategic demo that meets their requirements and solves the business problem.
  • Deliver the needs assessment report and proposal.
  • Close the deal.

*ECM training is available that provides all of this.

Why #4.  Docu-Everything has nothing to do with it and in fact, customers don’t care about the brand, they just want their problem fixed.  Realistically, your solution is like a scalpel on a surgeon’s tray. It can do nothing on its own. But in the hands of a capable doctor, miraculous things can happen, and lives are saved! Your sales staff are the surgeons! They must be able to converse with the client, not at an expert level, but at a ‘confident-level’ that is high enough to show they care.

Do I care what brand of tool you use to fix my truck? Nope. As long as it gets fixed!

Clients don’t care either! They have a problem, and it hurts. They want it fixed! Encourage your staff not to lead with the solution.

Why ask why?  In this case instead of asking why the customer was not buying Docu-Everything, they should have found out why the customer needs Docu-Everything and proved it.  It is a standard issue throughout the industry mostly due to lack of knowledge, impatience with the long sales cycle and unwillingness to learn a new way of selling.  What people are missing is when executed properly, the money that can be made is astronomical and very self-satisfying.  Establish Value and differentiate yourselves from the competition.  Believe me, this is tough in the fast paced world we live in today.

With a reliable document imaging solution partner and proper training, those WHY questions end and turn to WHEN, that is, When can we begin!!!

Mark Arkenau-

* The ECM Institute offers several courses for ECM Sales and Services. Courses from sales to professional needs assessment training. Contact Byron Aulick at

I want to learn more!

to learn more or call us at (800) 582-7652

Contact us today to learn more Contact Now