The digital nature of our world today means we’re constantly faced with a bewildering array of technology and software options, all claiming to be the best-suited to our needs.
Whenever you upgrade your phone, laptop or tablet, within two months you’ll see a new device promising to do more, work faster and weigh less than what you’ve just splashed your cash on.
The same goes for software. These industries move fast, so you’ll never be short of opportunities to try something new or upgrade the system you’re currently using.
Love it or loathe it, as marketers we can’t avoid riding the wave of new technologies. Many of us would even say that we love getting our teeth into the newest piece of tech on offer.
But with such a wide range of solutions available, how can you be sure you’re choosing the right marketing software for your business? Can you justify that the vendor you select and spend money on will generate real value and ROI?
To answer these questions, it’s important to follow a clear, systematic process that can be applied to this and any future scenarios, so you can feel confident of getting the best results.
Step 1: Research the market and build a list of all suitable solutions
When you’re at the earliest stages of evaluating different marketing software options, scour the market as much as you can and look for any solutions that might fit your needs.
Compile a list from the results you find and store them in a spreadsheet.
Don’t forget to search using synonyms of what you need the software to do, as the more results you find at this stage, the better.
Step 2: Refine the list by prioritising your requirements
In your spreadsheet, categorise and rank the solutions based on how well they say they can cater to your requirements.
You don’t necessarily need to worry too much about cost at this stage, just assess the features of the software and decide which ones are a good, possible or unlikely match for you.
Get rid of those that are clearly ill-suited to your needs.
Step 3: Look at reviews and testimonials
Customer advocacy is important in any B2B sales process, and especially so when comparing software vendors. Any company that isn’t showing off its happy customers isn’t worth pursuing further.
Pay particular attention to the reviews of past buyers whose goals and priorities sound similar to your own.
At this stage, you should consider narrowing your list down to between three and six providers, depending on the nature of the solution.
Step 4: Take advantage of free trials
How will you ever really know what a piece of software is capable of without trying it out?
Vendors know how important this is for prospects, so free trials are usually available from most providers.
Make the most of your trials by experimenting with as many features as possible and testing the software in different scenarios. If necessary, request an extension to your trial period to conduct a more in-depth analysis.
Step 5: Ask the vendor about their “roadmap”
So, you’ve matched solutions against your requirements, they all have positive reviews and you’ve had an opportunity to try them out.
You now need to be confident that the vendors you’re considering are prepared to evolve at the same pace as the broader industry.
Ask them to elaborate on their roadmap for change and growth.
You should pick a provider that has a vision of where their company is going. If they don’t have a roadmap for change, even if they have the best solution for your needs now, how do you know this will still be the case in a year’s time?
Try not to be swayed one way or another by impressions salespeople have on you.
Many buyers instinctively turn their backs on salespeople who cannot answer their questions effectively or are too pushy. We’ve all encountered them at one time or another, but why let a misinformed or overzealous salesperson stop you from choosing a product that could be perfect for your business?
Similarly, don’t let a salesperson who is charismatic and good at their job distract you from impartial analysis of what they’re selling and its value to you.
Consider getting other people from your company involved in these discussions so you have multiple opinions in the decision-making process. Other stakeholders may be able to look beyond the salesperson and offer a more objective view, for example by focusing on the product features, and so help you to make a more rational decision.