Inefficient processes plague marketing and sales organizations. Paper-based documentation and manual workflows make it difficult to deliver marketing programs and collateral in a timely manner. Organizations are challenged to improve proposal creation processes by capturing and reusing previous documents, and by tapping into the expertise of experts located throughout the world. Contract negotiation and approval is also fraught with inefficiency as important documents are routed by e-mail, often falling through the cracks and delaying the closure of key deals. Every salesperson knows the truth of the expression time is money, but in reality, it is reduction in time and access to the right content that are required to win in today's fast-paced global business world.
While CRM (customer relationship management) systems play an important role in the sales cycle, they don't provide a complete solution. What's missing is the integration of CRM-structured content with unstructured sales content. Without this integration, field employees, channel partners, and other participants working beyond the firewall lack insight into sales. While helpful for managing structured data, CRM doesn't address offline (or paper) documents and e-mail-based processes. Simple file-sharing systems lack the functionality needed to streamline workflows, to manage all document formats, and to seamlessly integrate with existing applications.
Crucial components of a content management system for sales and marketing include:
- a marketing asset management platform
- a sales library contained in a scalable and secure document repository
- integration with fax, scanners, e-mail, and desktop applications
- version control to ensure accuracy and to keep everyone working with the proper documents
- audit trails to provide visibility into creation and final approval
- business process automation to enable repetitive processes to be automated and monitored
- the ability to launch meetings and share the desktop with prospects and collaborators.
SaaS AS A CONTENT MANAGEMENT PLATFORM
Integration between the CRM and content management systems is a crucial part of effective sales and marketing. Using a content management platform that is delivered via a SaaS (software as a service) model in which the application is centrally hosted and accessed over the Internet offers even greater advantages, including faster time to deploy, low initial cost, rapid innovation, ease of configuration, and global availability. Combining CRM with a SaaS-based content management solution brings you five key benefits:
1. Improved win rates — Teams can respond effectively to every opportunity by creating more intelligent proposals in less time.
2. More effective marketing — Materials can be produced quickly in a collaborative environment and made available to globally disbursed sales organizations.
3. Sales and marketing alignment — SaaS-based content management can eliminate the 'gap' that exists between marketing and sales departments by giving everyone access to streamlined document management and workflow.
4. Faster time to revenue — By expediting every part of the sales cycle from opportunity to contract, companies can increase cash flow and enable sales reps and other stakeholders to move to the next opportunity.
5. Broader impact — SaaS solutions can be easily integrated with financial management systems, customer extranets, user management systems, and other applications. Users who don't need access to the CRM system can access critical content without buying extra licenses.
Effective organizations can neither squander opportunities through a slow or inept response, nor limit their employees' access to marketing and sales content. CRM by itself is helpful, but when combined with SaaS-based content management, the improvements to speed-of-response and collaboration are complemented by internal efficiencies that enable your company to win more business, faster. The integration of CRM and SaaS-based content management will dramatically transform your business from an outdated model into a true 21st century competitor.
Dan Carmel is CEO of SpringCM (www.springCM.com), a provider of SaaS-based document management and enterprise content management solutions. He can be reached at: dcarmel@springCM.com.