Don't forget to ask these 5 questions during a demo

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Questions to ask an ISV during a demo

If you’re in a software demo, chances are that you have an idea of 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 5 key questions that are important to answer before any software purchase.

1. 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 a 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.

2. 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 shortcomings of a software package, you can then ask yourself how important that feature is to you.  Sometimes, it can kill the deal.  But if the 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 they provide an opportunity to create a new feature or generate ideas for new products.  Dynamics GP Toolbox has over 25 tools that were built from feedback provided by customers who wanted something more or different.  It was the shortcomings of features in Dynamics GP itself, fueled by this type of customer feedback to us, which helped us create some phenomenal tools that make working in Dynamics GP simpler and easier.

3. What features do current customers like the best?

The answer to this question will help you identify the features that your users will find the most effective and efficient.  If customers are raving about a feature set, that is a good indicator that your users will like it too.  When implementing a new piece of software, you want to provide usefulness and increase efficiency.  With our products, we try to provide those extra useful features that allow your users to work smarter, not harder.

4. How often do you enhance or update your products?

This is a question that should follow up questions on features and costs. It’s important to get an idea of the development cadence of a product and if there are any costs that might be associated with that, either monetary or in resources.

Rockton typically updates or enhances its products annually. While some new features and bug fixes may only require a quick download, other developments may need to be done while users are not in the system or require more intense upgrades and it’s important to factor that in. On-going development also is a good sign that the vendor isn’t planning to end the life cycle of that product anytime soon – solidifying it’s a solid investment to make.

5. What does support look like?

When you buy a new product you have hope everything will go seamlessly, but what happens when it doesn’t? Asking about what support options you have is critical during the investigation of a new product. Make sure to ask what is included, what are the fees, and how/when you can contact the vendor for assistance.

Some vendors will provide support through your Microsoft partner only, whereas others will work with you directly. There may be upgrade options available that include phone and streaming support, but knowing which method you can use is very important when you may be experiencing downtime for your system and may also prevent unexpected cost spikes.

Here are some ways you can learn more and get connected:

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