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Third prize is you’re fired

August 26, 2010

I spent the greater part of this Monday meeting with sales executives at ECM and social media software vendors, and the experience was enlightening, to say the least.

We talked about the usual issues, of course: the economy being in the toilet, how dried up client spend is lately, the constantly shifting corporate sales goals and methodologies at their organizations, the cutthroat competition and infighting among vendors in the space, and so on. In general, these are the kind of ritual complaints you expect to hear from vendor sales guys, so I didn’t put much stock in them—the economy, funding, corporate BS, competitors…the more things change, the more they stay the same…

But we also talked at length about something that went beyond the typical sales griping you come to expect, and it caught my attention: my team can’t seem to sell to the business.

My ears perked up at this. It’s a particular focus of mine, as those of you who follow this blog know. For my money, selling ECM or social media to IT alone is basically irrelevant, because a successful ECM or social media program requires deep LOB support and commitment.

Given the choice, I’d rather have LOB support and IT resistance than the other way around, because like it or not, at the majority of organizations, IT does what the business says—they operate as order takers who deliver what’s asked of them. And even when IT isn’t exactly treated as order takers at an organization, they will almost certainly have less juice than LOB, operational folks. At the end of the day, I’ll bet on the COO, CMO, or the EVP of sales to get ECM funded over the CIO.

And so it was a good reminder to hear from these sales execs just how challenging it can be to connect with the business and how much easier it is for us in the ECM space to take the path of least resistance and stick with IT. But in the end, even if we succeed with IT, we still have the difficult road ahead of us to sell ECM to the business if we’re going to be successful over the long haul.

So let’s get real and keep the focus on the business value of ECM and social media from the get go–it’ll push us out of our IT comfort zone, but ultimately make us (and our clients) more successful.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynda permalink
    August 26, 2010 10:15 am

    What is ECM?

  2. August 26, 2010 4:18 pm


    ECM stands for Enterprise Content Management — we consultants love our acronyms!

    The next question, of course, is “what does it mean?”

    In a nutshell, ECM is concerned with how an organization handles all of its information, whether that’s structured data in databases and transactional systems or the unstructured data (such as Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, emails, etc.) on all its shard drives, SharePoint sites, email servers, etc.

    Lots of information out there on ECM that I can direct you to, so let me know and I can post some good links here if you want to learn more.

    Thanks for taking the time to visit and read the blog, and to post your question!




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