Confessions of an RPA Salesperson

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Doug Hudgeon, a business automation expert. 

Earlier this month, HFS Research, the company who brought robotic process automation (RPA) to the world's attention, pronounced RPA as dead.

This will create headwinds for RPA salespeople. To help counter that, I've put together this playbook.

Before we dive into the playbook, keep in mind that, even though RPA is fading, companies are still talking about automation. They still want to do it, so a sale is there for the taking. If you execute the following plays well, they'll do it using your RPA software.

Play No. 1: Divide and Conquer

 Your sales prospect is not the CIO. It is the CFO or CPO.

CIOs will only slow down your sales cycle. The last thing you want is the CIO sticking his or her nose into your sale. Fortunately for you, your prospect will not want the CIO involved either. The fact that they are even talking to you is an indictment on the CIOs ability to get things done for them. Build on that dissatisfaction and make sure the CIO knows nothing about the sale until after the contract is signed.

If your prospect is the CPO, you may need to help them avoid the CIO. Everyone else in their organization has plenty of experience avoiding the CPO during contract negotiations; but the CPO may have no experience executing this tactic.

Play No. 2: Build Walls Not Bridges

You need to maximize your revenue from every customer. Your RPA company has received hundreds of millions of dollars from investors who one day hope to get a return. You can't have your customers using any of the fantastic machine learning libraries from Google, Microsoft and Amazon. Nor can you have them using services from any of the OCR companies unless they are using an approved app from your app store.

Play No. 3: Instill Fear of Falling Behind

Next, make sure they are frightened of doing nothing. One helpful statistic comes from a recent Bank of England report on company productivity showing that certain companies are growing much faster than others. They have broken free from the Solow paradox, which questions why, over the past 50 years, computers have gotten much faster but company productivity has increased very little. The chart below is from this report. Even though there is no connection between this chart and any RPA product, use it to instill fear in your prospect that their competitors are on the blue line whereas they are on the red line.

(Source: Bank of England)

Play No. 4: Convince Developers to Roll the Dice with Your Low-Code Platform

We all know that the RPA industry is ripe for consolidation. The main players are too cashed up to refrain from gobbling up competitors as soon as sales headwinds start to blow.

For developers, this means that they run the risk of becoming proficient in a bespoke low-code tool that simply one day disappears. Convince them that, despite the odds, your RPA company will be the winner and time spent learning your bespoke low-code software will not be time wasted.

The End Game

With these four plays, you should be able to sail against the headwinds and keep closing deals. Good luck!

Alternate Approach

Alternatively, you can accept the fact that RPA, as it exists today, has to change. But there is a future where:

  1. The C-suite works together to make the most of their existing technology and only incorporates new technology as and when required.
  2. Companies take advantage of the best available technology — such as machine learning services and libraries from Google, AWS and Microsoft.
  3. Every organization moves onto the blue line.
  4. Developers enhance their careers by using common programming languages such as Python.

Doug Hudgeon is the CEO of EQ8R, a platform for interconnecting business applications on your premises and in the cloud. He is also the author of the book “Machine Learning for Business” from Manning Publications (www.manning.com/books/machine-learning-for-business). Until the end of June, you can pick up a copy for 50% off using the discount code ml4biz50.

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