The “Don’t Forget to Ask” ISV Software Demo Questions

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If you’re in a software demo, chances are that you have an idea what the software can do for you or your company, and you are searching for more details.  Besides more probing questions on functionality, here are two key questions I think are important to answer before any software purchase.

What are common unknown downstream costs?  You’ve likely been told the purchase costs, but don’t forget to include what’s needed in the future.  How about training?  What about enhancements?  Support?  Do you get all future version improvements for free, or what are those costs?  It’s important to look several years down the road to understand the overall costs involved so you receive proper return on investment.

At Rockton, we try to make our downstream costs super simple.  We have an optional maintenance plan that sells annually at 20% of the software price, and it includes almost everything: unlimited support, all upgrades, and all enhancements.  Because our products are so simple to use, training is rarely needed.

What features do current customers most complain about?  I think this one will show the credibility and integrity of a software vendor.  First, don’t accept the answer of “nothing”.  Customers are willing to give advice to software vendors all the time, and when they don’t like something, they’ll tell you.  Every software package can be improved, and by knowing the top few shortcoming of a software package, you can then ask yourself how important that feature is to you.  Sometimes, it can kill the deal.  But if software can’t meet your needs, then there’s no sense buying it.

Here at Rockton, we answer this question proactively.  When it comes to Omni Price, our software meets the vast majority of needs for complex pricing.  But there’s one thing it won’t do (nor does any GP pricing tool).  So if a customer has that need, and we can’t provide it, we won’t sell to that customer.  If our software doesn’t solve your problem, I don’t want you to have it.  We certainly don’t need unhappy customers!

The other cool thing about customer complaints is that often they aren’t shortcoming of an ISV’s software but rather can be seen as new features or ideas for new products.  Dynamics GP Toolbox has over 25 tools that were built with this fashion.  It was the shortcoming of features in Dynamics GP itself, fueled by customer feedback to us, which helped us create some phenomenal tools that make working in Dynamics GP simpler and easier.

By Mark Rockwell, President of Rockton Software.

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