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Content Management Sales Effectiveness -- Why don't the old strategies work anymore?

Sep 19, 2016 2:38:41 PM by John Mancini

Why don't our old content management sales strategies work anymore?  

Here are the core reasons I see:

Content management itself is changing rapidly.  

We've been through A LOT of changes in the "people-process-technology intersection" business.   (see my post, Preparing for the Era of Intelligent Machines for what I mean.)

We've had the Document Management and Workflow era.  We' ve been through the Enterprise Content Management era.  We're in the midst of the Mobile and Cloud era. These changes are coming faster and faster.  And most importantly, a new era does not mean the previous one goes away; it's just stacked on top!

At times, the content management business at the high end of the market (Fortune scale customers) feels an awful lot like a zero-sum, "I'll try to take share away from someone else and meanwhile I'll ride service and maintenance revenues" business.

On the other hand, it's a great time to be in the content biz.  Organizations are realizing that content is core to creating amazing customer experiences.  Large scale users are having challenges connecting up all the technology and stacks of capabilities they've bought over the past decade. "ECM" has become one element in Digital Transformation strategies that combine content, BI, and CRM capapbilities. We're in a different game, and we're maybe not the only game in town, but it's a very strategic game.


Meanwhile, there's a ton of very different business among small and mid-sized organizations. "Good enough" SaaS-based content management and file sync and share (#EFSS) capabilities are all around us.  Basic, good enough business process automation is now: a) within the reach of a host of companies for whom it was previously unaffordable; and b) is now available by the drink through SaaS solutions rather than buy the gallon.  Content management applications represent a fairly mature set of technology capabilities, but also a very green and largely untouched market space.

As different as the two markets above are, they share one thing in common -- neither group is interested in buying "technology" -- they want solutions.  And that brings me to the second core reason why content management sales is a tough game right now:

Content management sales effectiveness has not kept up with changes in the market.

According to CEB (the Challenger sales people), "57% of the buyer’s journey is complete before the first customer contact with a supplier.”  Gartner notes that "Customers rate their sales person as the least influential interaction in the buying process.”  

AIIM research among content management sales and marketing folks reinforces this.  71% of the sales and marketing people we surveyed agree with this statement: "B2B business buyers are increasingly benefitting from cloud, mobile, consumerization, and the internet of things, but many sales reps still work like they did in 1966.”


The problem is not a lack of generic sales skills and training (whether it be SPIN Selling, Challenger Selling, the Sandler Selling System, or whatever).

The problem is not a lack of product knowledge.  My experience is that companies do a pretty good job of this.

The problem is a lack of the domain and process knowledge necessary to make a good business case.  It's a lack of the expertise needed to move beyond technology selling and help customers craft solutions.  It's a reliance on past technology deployment models calling for big bangup front professional services payouts before any real value has been created.

I think it's time to take our solutions game up a notch.

Some of my ideas are in this presentation.  


Take a look and let me know what you think.  If you'd like to grab some time to talk and how we might help, use this scheduling link.

You might also be interested in getting on the email distribution list for this blog -- HERE.

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Topics: B2B, content management, ecm, business process management, efss

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