Three Ways to Sell Accounts Payable Automation to a Skeptic
Few words conjur up negative emotions and connotations like that of the salesman. However, the salesman, as Malcolm Gladwell equivocates in his New York Times Bestselling book, The Tipping Point, is a foundational component of making any movement, idea, or product ‘tip’ (aka explode in terms of popularity from an early adopter perspective to saturation via the masses). Despite the paradoxical viewpoints, at some point every one has to sell in order to advance their cause, and I don’t mean from an external purchase standpoint. That’s a given for anyone vetting a significant investment like a car, house, or in business a major technology purchase or acquisition. The point is that selling involves some key components…communicating value points, and what’s less often discussed, truly understanding a buyer’s needs, values, and goals.
With that said, selling a skeptic on something can be a daunting proposition, but we believe there are three components to make selling Accounts Payable automation a reality.
1. Like Ben Hogan said, the answer is in the dirt!
For old Ben, the adage referred to pounding away at golf balls until you mastered the stroke and got consistent. From our perspective, the first step is one of quantification, which begins with a deep dive into your process. This means going beyond introspection to evaluation and taking a hard and steely look at your performance within your Accounts Payable process. You think you’re efficient…how good are you? How much are your people really getting done? What is your true cost to process an invoice? For many people, this is a foreign exercise and one that requires some hand-holding through the process…while for others, it’s an item of self-discovery that they’ll undertake every few years. If you’ve never benchmarked you’re AP process efficiency, we invite you to here or alternatively you can read up on the underlying costs to process an invoice here. Either way, you’ll never sell a skeptic without details around your current state and what you stand to gain.
2. Get comfy on the doctors couch!
No, this is not an homage to Lucy from Peanuts with her widely available, and dare we say, inexpensive counseling . It is however a springboard to the undergirding point that it is necessary to document the things that ail you, and no we don’t mean your bodily aches and pains, but more-so a work up of the process aches and pains that you sustain and live with from working in a disjointed, manual process. When you start to stack the subtleties of manual processing and what that means to the echelons of people within the organization and aggregate their sentiments, you tend to get a lop-sided perspective that leans toward improvement. When in doubt, help the skeptic believe in Accounts Payable automation by getting the whole picture and putting it on display.
3. Consider the alternatives?
One of the most effective means of persuading someone is found in the ancient Socratic method, which was a means of asking questions to arrive at the truth. In order to look at a function like Accounts Payable automation that could require convincing, you have to consider the alternatives and implications to not automating. This would include thinking about what it means to not improve. Sure everyone is championing the concept of going paperless, but that doesn’t mean it’s for you. Conversely you have to consider what happens to your organization if you don’t automate. Typically it means filing cabinets, dealing with uncertainty, chasing paper, and taking longer to process things with more exposure to risk.
Long story short:
These three methods are all key to making a holistic assessment of whether automation is for you or not. Combined they can allay the concerns of even the healthiest (or unhealthiest) skeptic. Go it alone without them and suffer the wrath of the skeptic. Either way, the choice is yours.