Do you ask your Software Vendors the Right Questions During the Selling Process?
I try to make as many visits to prospects, both to show Dovetail’s commitment, and also to get a sense as to what is going on in the market segments we compete in. During these presentations we talk about who Dovetail is and then go into a detailed demo of our product. Most of the questions the prospects ask relate to our product – what does our product do, how does the implementation work, and how good is the security of our product. All good questions, but they may not tell you everything you should know about the vendors competing for your business.
Here are a number of other questions customers should ask and why they are important:
1) Tell us how you deal with the problems that will develop during implementation, and give me an example?
We are dealing with enterprise software here. Any software vendor who tells you they never have problems during implementation isn’t being honest with you, and that answer alone should lead you to question the vendor. To ensure that the implementation goes as well as you hope, and your cut-over to going live goes smoothly, you want a vendor who will do everything in their powers to overcome these issues, regardless of whether it is the vendor’s fault or not. This is also a great question to ask during a reference check.
2) How does the process work once we sign a contract and become a customer?
Salespeople are known for doing many things to secure an account; often times, those include things a vendor can’t do. But who cares, getting the customer is what is most important, Right? No, wrong! What you want is a vendor who makes sure that there is a connection between the sales process and what the salesperson told the customer, and the implementation and support group, who are the ones who are in charge of the customer after the contract is signed, and will be the groups who determine the success of the customer.
3) How are Support Issues Handled?
Customers frequently ask about SLAs, but there is a difference between meeting a SLA and solving a customer’s problem. Ask the vendor about how a problem is handled (the process) and the level of experience and skillset of the people involved. The process is important because it can mask how effective the support team really is. They may staff a front line team whose sole job is to log an issue and ensure that they have met the “letter of the law” related to a SLA; however, such a process doesn’t guarantee that your issue is solved quickly. Which is where the level of experience and skillset of the team becomes important. Image how much quicker and more accurately an issue will be handled where the team handling your problem has a technical background and knows the product well.
There are surely other questions you can come up with. My point was to get you to think a little differently than you normally might, increasing the chances your vendor selection is the right choice.
Until Next Time,