Tips for shopping for Tech

Peter Maxwell Sessions

Date

Oct 17, 2017

A few months ago I went shopping for a new car. I had a vague idea of what I wanted but I wasn’t completely sold on any one brand, make, or model. The only thing I had officially committed myself to was buying a used car in order to save money. Purchasing a car is not an everyday activity for me so I was a bit unsure of where to begin. I decided to search online for local used car dealerships. I came across a website of dealership that impressed me. They seemed to have a large inventory selection, special sales offers, and a convenient location. I was getting filled with excitement and anticipation that I had come one step closer to purchasing my new set of wheels. I raced over to the dealership filled with this excitement to check out their inventory first hand. When I arrived at the dealership I felt a bit confused. The business looked much different than what I had seen on their website. The car lot looked much smaller, the office looked like it was falling apart, and it was unclear where I was supposed to go to get help.

After wandering around the car lot for a few minutes, I was finally approached by a car salesman. I told the salesman that I was ready to buy a car but that I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. Without asking anymore questions, the car salesman proceeded to parade me around the lot telling me exactly what I wanted. Without knowing anything about me he suddenly understood exactly what I was looking for. He started a well rehearsed pitch on all the features and specifications of his favorite car. The longer he talked the more he killed the excitement I had about buying a car. He insisted that we take his favorite car out for a test drive to really get the full experience. He took a copy of my drivers license and away we went. This guy could not shut up and continued to babble on about things I couldn’t have cared less about. I found myself just wishing that this whole experience would come to an end. We got back to the dealership and I promptly began to leave. The salesman seemed confused by my rush to get going. He had assumed there was no way that I was going to leave his lot without buying a car. The pushy salesman tried to stop me from getting in the car I wanted to replace and insisted on talking more. I kindly insisted on leaving. As I drove away I realized that at least in this instance, the stereotype of the pushy used car salesman seemed to fit the mold.

As an operational consulting firm with an emphasis of leveraging technology, our team does a fair amount of software demos. We are constantly being solicited by software companies hoping to have us rep their software to our clients. I have seen numerous software companies with really flashy websites but very underdeveloped tech. Our team has listened to countless hours of sales pitches from software companies. The other day during a sales pitch from a marketing software platform, I started getting flashbacks of the horrible experience I had with the used car salesman. I realized something in that moment that I couldn’t deny. I realized that I shared part of the blame for the negative experience I had with the salesman. Although I think all sales professionals should spend ample time asking their potential clients great questions, let’s not forget the responsibility of the “buyer”. If you want to avoid a painful sales pitch then come to the pitch having done your homework. If you don’t come to the pitch with your own questions then you effectively give up all control to the salesman.

Most technology companies prep their sales people with a rehearsed sales presentation that they regurgitate day in and day out. I personally don’t have time for salespeople to show up and throw up generalized content. My time is valuable and I also want to respect the time of the sales professional. Here are a few tips that will allow you to get the most of your software demo or sales pitch;

1. Start every sales pitch by telling the salesperson exactly what you care about and exactly what you want to see. When shopping for technology for your company, do not show up to a sales pitch like I showed up the the used car lot. If you have an understanding of the features you really care about then you will likely get the answers you really want.

2. If the salesperson launches into an explanation of features you don’t care about then let the salesperson know. At first I felt that this was a rude thing to do but then something dawned on me; sales professionals want to make a sale. It’s helpful not rude to be vocal about the features that won’t influence my purchasing decision.

3. Be very clear with the salesperson before they start their presentation about your “must haves” and “deal breakers”. If you can disqualify the platform prior to listening to a long sales pitch, then you can save yourself and the sales professional a lot of time.

Make sure you do your homework before shopping for technology for your company. Understand that you have a responsibility as a buyer to understand what you want to buy. Take some time to educate yourself prior to speaking to sales. Speak with other people using similar technology to the one you are shopping for. Ask them what they love and what they hate about the technology. The software and tech industries have become very congested over the last few years. This is a good and a bad thing for the buyer. It’s good because it means that you have more options than ever befor. It’s bad because it also means you have to do a lot more research to do. There is no such thing as perfect software or technology, but there is such a thing as a perfect fit.

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