CMS, DAMs, and PIMs what the heck are they and why do Marketers think they are sales tools?

Let’s talk about;

  • Content Management Systems (CMSs),
  • Digital Asset Management (DAMs), and
  • Product Information Systems (PIMs)

Confusion is rampant.  Let’s simplify!

Content Management System (CMS)

Typically the first step a company takes is getting their website in order. This inherently leads to using an organizational system that is online. The fastest and easiest way of organizing web data is via a CMS. Some common examples include Sitecore, Acquia, and WordPress

A CMS is used to both create and manage digital content for online consumption. Digital content includes both HTML-coded product and services information as well as hard-coded files like videos, images, PDFs, and more.  

The core functions of a CMS are considered to be indexing, search and retrieval, format management, revision control, and publishing. These are all perfect for creating slick eye-catching websites that will pull prospects into and down a sales funnel.

For many companies e-commerce is a key go to market strategy that requires a robust CMS to manage and update product information.

Sophisticated marketing teams may utilize add-on features for A / B testing, product matching algorithms, and cart features to lure customers in and up-sell them additional products and services.

Both prospects and sales reps have access to the same information, typically laid out in a fashion that will draw the visitor down an engagement funnel.

With sales reps trained to sell off your website, this facet of a website CMS can be an effective way to align a sales and marketing organization. For example, new sales reps could use your website as a key tool for them to familiarize themselves with your product offerings and to identify opportunities where they can up-sell complementary and add-on products.

The down fall of a CMS system for field reps is that they require connectivity. Some common locations where field sales reps run into connectivity issues are trade shows, job sites, government buildings, and hospitals.

Relying on your website can result in multiple inefficiencies in a sales process. The worst case scenario being the sales rep never uses your website again after a prospect has a poor experience and, they lose a huge sale!

Additionally, search on websites can be quite unruly and, reps waste precious time trying to find collateral instead of…selling.

There’s no doubt that your website’s CMS is great for providing information to both the sales rep and prospects. However, Marketers should keep in mind that websites are intended for consumers, and, they are not designed as sales enablement tools for field reps. 

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

DAM systems are purpose built to control digital files and documents for organizations.  Unlike a CMS, DAMs are not intended for public consumption. Robust DAM systems are critical corporate software for online storage, offering features and functionality above and beyond standard file sharing apps like Box, DropBox, or Google Cloud.  Popular examples include Widen, NetX, and IntelligenceBank.

Key features for DAMs include deep capabilities for categorizing, sorting, filtering and meta-data tagging for digital assets. Version control for documents and files is one of the most valuable benefits of DAM systems because they ensure that everyone is using the most up-to-date digital content. 

Additionally, most DAMs offer document user access control and print on-demand options making them ideal for larger corporations. 

In short, the right DAM keeps digital content better organized, hence more easily found.

DAMs and CMSs are not mutually exclusive as many DAMs can integrate directly with a CMS (or an offline sales enablement tool) affording a certain level synergy between the two systems, ensuring that both web content and gated content can be synchronized. 

When properly introduced to the sales department, a DAM can be a great source of both freely available and gated product collateral and information. Additionally, the added features of filtering and tagging, are often seen as an asset to your sales reps.

However, while conducting research for this article,  one director of sales operations jokingly said, “when we pass files through our DAM we can confirm that it is absolutely unfindable”.  

This type of response is typical when multiple users can drop in similar collateral and use different categories, indexing, and tagging conventions. Most companies could avoid this type of mishap by setting proper rules and access control as opposed just “dumping” all their digital files and hoping for the best

Similar to a CMS, DAMs require an Internet connection making them a poor choice for customer interactions with reps in the field.

In conclusion, a DAM is a very powerful tool ensuring version control and access to a wide array of corporate digital assets so it acts as the central point of truth for content.  

DAMs are indeed useful to sales teams but are better suited to integrating with digital sales tools for fields teams due to offline issues and the sheer volume of information populating these systems.

Product Information Management (PIM)

Imagine yourself as the marketing manager for an apparel line like Nike who sells shoes through hundreds of online sites. The complexity of managing your ever changing product mix would be impossible to manage without a PIM.  

Thus a PIM can be considered a very specialized type of DAM or CMS that mainly focuses on products, and the information required to describe them like descriptions, prices, images, and in some cases digital supporting collateral.

For example, a manufacturer that has an e-commerce site drive by Sitecore and also sells their products on Amazon.com and other online vendors. A few suppliers include inRiver , riversand, and Salsify.

PIMs allow marketers and product managers to quickly and easily update product information such as color, shape, size, price, and description, then push that data downstream to any e-commerce, catalog, website or other location that requires that information concurrently.

In this way, a PIM allows one individual at a company to quickly and easily manipulate product information associated with a particular SKU and keep product information up to date and consistent across all channels.

In terms of sales collateral organizational systems, inside sales reps love PIMs. 

As they sit in the office, they know that with a fully integrated PIM system, anywhere they search or guide a prospect too will lead to consistent information with accurate pricing.

For outside reps, it’s often a different story.  Like the CMS and DAM, PIMs are tools built with a purpose other than being a sales tool. Requiring connectivity for functionality renders them impossible to use in front of a customer during a visit.  However, when integrated with an offline digital catalog app the combination can be magical (and that’s a topic for another day).

That being said, as most eCommerce websites like Amazon.com are mobile friendly when connectivity is available.

Conclusion

Creating rich and valuable digital content is becoming easier and easier.

The problem that many companies face is the ability to properly organize that collateral in an easy to access format.

The three systems described here, those being CMS, DAM, and PIM can all be equally valuable if deployed and used properly.

A common shortcoming for sales to each of these systems is the lack of offline capability leaving sales reps looking elsewhere for information.