The Future of Sales is Integrated Content Services

4 min read

Time is a salesperson’s one true asset.

How you use and invest your time as a salesperson is essential to your success and the success of your organization. To be effective, you need reliable and up-to-date information, which is often time-consuming to access, store, process, and manage.

Automation holds the key to help alleviate this issue. To automate selling activities and better enable the selling process around customer data, enterprises have invested substantially in customer relationship management (CRM) software, spending just over $48 billion [1], at the end of 2018. And sales of CRM software are expected to grow at low double digits for years to come.

Underutilized CRM systems

Despite deep investments, enterprises are reporting that reps spend less than 18% [2] of their time in their CRM system to manage and automate work. The remainder of time spent was reported as follows:

  • 33.2% email for sales-related communication
  • 20.4% downtime activities, such as checking Facebook and catching up with colleagues
  • 14.8% administrative tasks
  • 0.04% tools to gather sales intelligence

Based on this study, email and administrative tasks typically consume 48% of a rep’s time. It seems plausible that a good portion of the time spent on those two activities involve a wide range of sales-related content, including the following:

  • Vendor price quotes
  • Price lists and guidelines
  • Sales proposals
  • Contracts and agreements
  • Email templates
  • Call scripts
  • Brochures, datasheets, and frequently asked questions documents
  • New account applications
  • Credit applications

The content gap within CRM

CRM applications typically offer very limited and expensive file-storage capabilities, leaving many sales reps to manage this content in local folders, email inboxes, or scattered across a network file share or unmanaged third-party file sharing services. Not only does this increase risk—especially with customer information—it consumes a lot of time and cognitive energy. With the rapid growth in new information, this burden will continue to increase.  

Closing the automation gap for better content management

“Prospecting tools that provide email and phone in a sales cadence and content management systems that provide storage for useful sales documents were rated the highest and most valuable.” [3]

In the rush to make the customer experience (CX) as easy as possible, enterprises may have overlooked the opportunity to remove friction from the sales rep experience. While innovation and application integration have been adopted across the CX solution landscape, supporting software services like content management have traditionally remained separate from the CRM workspace.

Insights from Bluewolf’s State of Salesforce report study show that leading IT teams are prioritizing integration and access to information as top priorities for CRM:

  • Integrating data sources (90% of respondents)
  • Providing a 360-view of the customer (88% of respondents)

Fortunately, this situation is changing.

Streamlining the sales rep experience with integrated content services

In the world of modern apps, developers are rapidly connecting and integrating applications at strategic points across the enterprise, including CRM and content management solutions. New efficient programming interfaces (APIs) like GraphQL and distribution sites like the Salesforce AppExchange make it much easier for enterprises to integrate and distribute essential capabilities like content services through the CRM user experience. The Salesforce AppExchange is an established digital storefront that features more than 5,000 apps and 6 million customer installs, including The IBM FileNet Connector for Salesforce.

Accessing and managing customer- and sales-related assets remains a challenge for sales organizations. The IBM FileNet Connector for Salesforce integrates FileNet content services capabilities into the Salesforce user interface. The combined tools centralize content-centric tasks like collaboration, governance, compliance, and records retention transparently into FileNet through the CRM interface. This enables salespeople to work more efficiently within the CRM system while simultaneously and securely accessing, processing, storing, and collaborating with content.

Simplify collaboration and compliance with sales content

The ability to securely share content like sales proposals and price quotes enables salespeople to collaborate more effectively with external stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and partners. From Salesforce, users can add content that is automatically stored in FileNet and can be shared externally with specific role-based rights applied to the folder and specific content assets, like a sensitive draft response to a request for proposal. External collaborators can access these assets without access to a Salesforce account or FileNet.

In addition, standard business rules for compliance and records retention can be applied to the same content by a content administrator. This eliminates the burden for sales teams to interpret how sensitive content is managed, streamlining their work within Salesforce, making sharing easier and more secure.

Integrating FileNet with Salesforce can significantly enhance your sales team’s productivity, while increasing the visibility and accessibility of sales-related data to other departments and business systems. Other enterprise collaborators—like those in Finance, Operations, Marketing, or Customer Support—can access the same rights-managed content directly through FileNet without the need for additional CRM user licenses. Any new content and supporting index data added to FileNet is also accessible to any other systems connected to FileNet, like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The combination of content services with CRM helps unify Sales with other business operations while reducing friction and administrative effort, freeing time to strategically plan and engage customers. 

It’s time to close the gap between your CRM and your content

Digital innovations are gradually closing the gaps between discrete business systems, providing greater access and control over information that can reduce waste and risk, while creating new opportunities for growth. When it comes to the “future of sales,” FileNet and the IBM Cloud Pak® for Automation help close the automation gap between Salesforce users, enterprise content, and the supporting departments and business systems on which your sales organization depends.

Learn more about FileNet and the FileNet Connector for Salesforce:

[1] CRM Market Share — Salesforce Bright Future in 2020

[2] Why Sales Reps Spend Less Than 36% Of Time Selling (And Less Than 18% In CRM)

[3] CRM Market Share — Salesforce Bright Future in 2020

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