Written by: Jay H.
When you need to buy software for your SMB, the process seems straightforward. Just set your organizational goals, your budget, and then find the best software that meets your needs, right? Unfortunately, the reality is far from that. A recent study from Capterra reveals that more than 70 percent of SMB software purchases either compromise on their original vision or fail to meet expectations.
Only 27 percent of SMBs reported securing a “Great Match” on their last software purchase. “The rest either compromise on their original vision, or purchase software that fails to meet expectations—leading to further problems, additional software purchases, or, in the worst cases, purchase regret that forces small businesses to start over,” said Capterra’s Brian Westfall.
Capterra uncovered several tactics organizations could use to get a Great Match in their software process. Here are their five tips:
Tip #1: Focus On Internal Motivation
The study found that productivity improvements, outgrown current technology, and competitive pressures were the top factors driving SMB software purchases. However, Westfall notes that organizations influenced by external motivators were less likely to secure a Great Match.
“Specifically, we found that when businesses focus on an internal motivation with their software purchase, such as increasing productivity or efficiency, their chances of getting a Great Match are above average. On the other hand, when they focus on an external motivation such as competitive pressures, Great Match likelihood takes a nosedive,” Westfall said.
For instance, despite competitive pressures being the third most common factor driving software purchases, it led to only 9 percent Great Match results. Without properly assessing whether the investment is right for your organization, the chance of purchase regret is high.
Tip #2: Let The Software Selection Team Decide
Another critical factor the study uncovered was that the selection team didn’t need to involve members of specific roles or departments. Instead, the participation and influence of each member of the selection team were much more important.
It is also essential to avoid giving influence to occasional participants who are not involved in regular discussions. Organizations with no occasional participants had better chances of getting a Great Match.
“Occasional participants will often not have the full context of all the discussions that have occurred with members of the buying team. As a result, they’ll either add limited value to the process, or they may bring biased viewpoints that devalue the work of the project team,” explained Gartner.
Tip #3: Validate Through Independent Sources
Both Great Match and non-Great Match buyers relied on vendor-provided information when choosing their software. This information is “valuable and unavoidable,” noted Westfall. However, the additional steps taken to verify information through independent sources separated Great Match and non-Great Match buyers.
“Great Match buyers are nearly twice as likely to use independent sources such as user reviews, third-party experts, and peers,” said Westfall. “Vetting vendors through these independent sources can help ensure that your team is getting reliable and accurate information.”
Tip #4: Utilize Free Trial Periods
No matter how much research you conduct, the best way to get to know the software is by trying it out yourself. Most vendors offer a free trial period that is invaluable in aiding the decision process.
“Buyers who rank free trial periods as the most important source of information to deeply assess software vendors are most likely to secure a Great Match,” Westfall explained. “Besides allowing your team to get hands-on and learn how user-friendly a system is, free trials are also one of the only ways you can stress test software in a situation unique to your small business. ”
Tip #5: Resist Shortlist Revisions
Once your team has narrowed down the software options to a shortlist, it can be tempting to revisit and meddle with it. However, the study shows that those who revise their shortlist rarely or never are more likely to find a Great Match.
“Not only does constantly adding options to your shortlist delay the entire process and give your team more vendors to evaluate, but it also casts doubt on your initial shortlist in the first place,” said Westfall.
“Those that rarely or never revisit their shortlist can do so because they’ve been thorough in their research and have built enough confidence and consensus in their shortlist that they aren’t tempted to change it. That’s your goal.”
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