Software Search Process – Save the Demo for Last

When speaking with potential customers, frequently the first question we are asked is “can I see a demo?” The need to see a demo right off the bat can be for a number of reasons, including wanting to get an idea of the look and feel of the software, not understanding the thought process that should go into a software search, or because that is the process another software vendor followed.  While a demo is definitely a key and required part of any software search, you can save time and effort, and get information to make a more informed decision, if the demo is later in the process.

When starting the software search process with a demo, vendors highlight what they feel are the most sell-able points, or bells and whistles of the system.  This process ignores the actual needs of the prospective customer, their reasons for shopping, and does not factor in whether or not there is a fit between the business requirements and software functionality.  The result is time wasted for both parties and trying to remember how any given system looks will be difficult when evaluating multiple vendors.

If the look and feel of a system is key to the potential buyer (as it should be – although not necessarily over functionality), their time is better spent perusing the software vendor’s website or YouTube channel watching product tours and looking at screen shots. Following this approach means that within a short time frame the prospective customer can see what the software looks like without wasting an hour or longer watching a demo based on functionality that does not apply to their business.

The ideal starting point in a software search is for the vendor to have exploratory discussions with the prospective customer.  Such discussions will cover information such as:

  • Reasons for shopping for new software and existing pain points
  • Existing business processes
  • Volume of transactions being processed
  • Number of required users and
  • Desired improvements as a result of implementing new software

By finding out this information, a software provider is able to assess areas where the software can improve processes, address pain points and whether or not the software is a good fit for the interested party in terms of their business size, existing business processes, and industry needs. Additionally, a knowledgeable software vendor will use the information gathered to make recommendations for more efficient methods.

After going through this process and determining that indeed a potential fit does exist, the software provider will now have enough information to prepare a demo, tailored to the prospective customer’s business and its needs. Ideally, this demo will focus on specific areas important to the customer instead of highlighting features that may never be used.  Saving the demo until later in the process means neither party has wasted any time if the system is not a good fit, and both have been able to obtain enough information to make an informed decision about which software system is best.

To learn more about the software search process, download our free guide.

Software Buying Guide