Presented by DocuSign
To improve operational efficiency, customer experience, and your bottom line, you need to build your digital toolbelt. In this VB Live event, learn how digital tools can help you do everything from accept online payments to automate your entire agreement process and more.
Access free on demand.
“The digital push has come to shove with the pandemic,” says Laurie McCabe, co-founder and partner at research and consulting firm SMB Group. “We’ve all seen mounting pressure for businesses to digitize and automate for quite a while.”
Surveys of small businesses conducted by SMB Group have found that these companies know it’s important to do that, McCabe adds. The pandemic has put the need to streamline and simplify with digitization and automation into stark relief. “[They’ve realized] that their business cannot survive without it,” she explains, “because automation helps you do anything faster, easier, and more accurately than you could if you were doing things more manually.”
As the pandemic took hold, and travel and face-to-face meetings came to a standstill, companies quickly saw that it was important to enable their sellers to sell from anywhere, and their customers and prospects to buy from anywhere, adds Dave Simon, vice president of SMB commercial sales at DocuSign.
“Digital tools have been critical for survival during these unprecedented times,” he says, “but many companies are coming to the realization that when the pandemic is over, buyers are going to want to continue purchasing digitally.”
“Challenging times are an opportunity for innovation and growth,” says Anthony Heckman, head of business development at UnitQ. “That’s here to stay. The speed with which you can do things through tech, I don’t think we’re going to turn back from that.”
The SMBs that are continuing to invest in technology are faring better financially, McCabe says.
“It’s more than just, oh, you should do it, you need to do it, it’ll make things easier,” she says. “It’s having an impact on the bottom line.”
Being able to do everything digitally has increased the speed at which you can get deals and transactions done, Heckman says. It’s also immensely helpful from a data tracking standpoint.
“You want to see what direction the business is going in, the speed with which we can get deals done,” he explains. “Keeping everything digital allows you to track that data better and make decisions that inform the direction of the business. We’ve been quite pleased with how that’s been handled across our customers.”
And when you digitize billing and invoicing, it increases the speed and the accuracy of your processes, and means you’ll get paid faster, McCabe points out. These days, small businesses may only have a couple of months of liquidity. Keeping that money coming in more quickly once you do a deal is important.
The reduction of errors is another tremendous benefit. Customers in traditional industries that moved slowly before the pandemic, such as insurance or car sales, are swapping over their applicant processing systems and claims management systems to digital processes and seeing big advantages.
“They’re now realizing that there’s tremendous efficiency,” Simon says. “There’s way less rework. It’s faster, lower cost, but most important, it’s a much better buyer experience. Buyers can buy at their own speed digitally and fill out forms online instead of being captive in an office. Our customers are saying that their buyers probably won’t want to go back.”
Simplicity and the cost are key factors in deciding on a technology solution — not many businesses are able to take out massive loans right now to upgrade their digital toolbelt. And a company doesn’t want to wait three to six months for technology to become effective; they want to see productivity increase almost immediately, and the digital tool start being valuable within a few days, not months. Most important, however, is choosing the right technology for the right job.
“Small businesses should focus on the technologies that solve a problem they’ve clearly identified,” Heckman says. “Make sure first that you understand the problem you’re trying to solve for, and then how quickly you can see an ROI on the technology you’re bringing in. And speed matters. If something’s not working, you want to know that quickly as well.”
McCabe cautions that integration is one thing that often gets overlooked — simply because people want to fix a problem quickly. “It may not seem important right at the outset when you just need to have something,” he says. “But down the line is when you do find a lot of smaller companies getting frustrated, because different solutions don’t talk to each other. It’s hard to pass the data or information between them. I would say it’s good to think about that up front.”
To learn more about the technology solutions that can help solve an SMB’s most urgent problems, how to integrate your digital tools, how to handle security and privacy and more, catch up on this VB Live event.
Access free on demand right here.
You’ll learn how digital tools can:
- Accelerate quote-to-cash, and help you hold onto money longer
- Enhance customer experience with tools like digital agreements
- Increase security for customer peace of mind and a competitive advantage
- Anthony Heckman, Head of Business Development, unitQ
- Laurie McCabe, Cofounder & Partner, SMB Group Inc.
- Dave Simon, VP of SMB Commercial Sales, DocuSign
- Stewart Rogers, Moderator, VentureBeat
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