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Client Knowledge is the Key to Selling Records Management

November 19, 2008

Why Selling Records Management is Hard

Bookish Disposition, November 13, 2008

Across industries, the importance of understanding your target audience is critical when trying to make a sale. The same principle applies to “internal sales” (convincing internal stakeholders and users of the benefits of a particular project or new idea) as well.

For anybody involved in records management, the Bookish Disposition blog offers a great list of questions records managers should ask the “managers and users to whom [they] try to “sell” records management.” According to Bookish Disposition, “understanding our customers and the way they think, work, and handle information is just as important to our success (and theirs) as understanding their records.” If you are trying to make the “sell”, this list might prove valuable to you.

    1. How difficult is it to get permission to talk to our existing customers? What is your role in your organization? How is that role perceived? Know your audience and your role.
    2. How difficult is it to get them to introduce us to their friends, colleagues and competitors? Don’t forget about internal advocates. As you get your records management initiatives off the ground, think about success stories and recruit a small group of internal evangelists to spread the records management gospel. Ultimately, you want as many people in your organization as possible to be advocates for the value of records management in your organization.
    3. What’s the worldview of this audience? Do they trust us? Are they looking for new solutions? Instead of approaching internal departments and teams with your recommended records management solutions, first take the time to understand their perspective and specific issues. Taking a listen first, sell later approach will help establish a level of trust you and the solutions you recommend.
    4. Will this audience go out of their way to avoid us? Have your internal audiences had ‘bad’ records management experiences in the past? Depending on their pre-existing perceptions of record managers, your clients may consider you a bad guy. Diminish these stereotypes from the get-go and “show them that records management is all about protecting them, helping them achieve their goals, and making their lives better.”
    5. Is there a problem that they know they have? If not, then we have to not only sell the solution, we need to sell the problem too. Take the time to listen to their current struggles and make it a priority to address them early on in the relationship.
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