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How to do Software Selection...

Posted by: Rachel Davidson-Foster

... without killing the innocent

Summary – Apples and pianos

About twice a week I am invited to meet a company who is looking for a solution for their sales, marketing or operational needs. However, it is rare that someone sends me something that describes themselves and some tangible details on their problems and needs. I’m happy to gather that information, but I feel sorry for my potential clients as they have to go through that with every potential suitor they see, and the shape of the problem changes if you are just answering questions, or trying to remember the main points you made last time, and many end up with something that just doesn’t fit. You can end up comparing apples with pianos, as seekers hear what people have rather than a response to what they actually want.

My promise - I do solemnly swear…

…that if you follow these steps, you will find it easier, cheaper and much less time-consuming to select new software solutions, be they CRM or anything else where you are talking to sales people, and even when just browsing the web. Who knows, you might even enjoy it. I’m not talking about a five-volume tome here, just two pages, it’ll look like a golden chalice to the people you send it to and they’ll love you.

Steps to software heaven – It’s honestly this simple

Introduce yourself and the company

Get yourself a signed Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), then feel free to spill the beans about what you do, how you do it, what with and who to. This will enable you to set the real scene, not just the one on your website. Explain what you are trying to achieve, be it more sales, more conversions, less delivery failures, higher quality? It’s your story, tell it shamelessly with gusto and aplomb.

Describe your current systems

Nothing fancy, just what you use in the organisation for anything that is relevant. Email, calendars, financial systems, CRM, contact management, stock systems, anything that could possibly be involved or close to the environment that the new software is required to fit into.

Describe your data

Describe what data you hold on what processes and which groups of companies and people. Sure, contact details, but what else? Birth dates? Illnesses? Services? Products? Calendars? Stock? Just a list with a short phrase after it, for the sake of memory and openness 

Define the problem

What is it that's bothering you? Consider not fixing it and decide why you need to do something about it

This could be simple, and highly useful for you too in your own decision process. An example might be “We are currently converting 1% of sales and are making a loss. If we don’t increase conversions to around 5% within the next 6 months we will have funding issues. We believe the reason we are failing to convert is that everything is paper based and people work remotely.”

Try to ensure that the kimono is fully jacked open. (Sorry, I used a cliché phrase, it works though eh?)

Describe the nice-to-haves

In case vendor or solution choice comes down to these

Are you in a hurry?

Detail any relevant timescales or other project parameters that need to be met (and maybe budget). This gives your vendor a chance to come clean if they just can’t meet those timescales.

Good luck, it can be a beautiful process that makes you feel like life is worthwhile!

Oh here it comes – The salesy bit

Ok, I can help you do this if you need it, I’m pretty good as I’ve been doing it for 25 years. If you'd like to get some more advice then please get in touch with me using that nice pink button at the bottom of the page.

Steve Austin

Managing Director