I recently finished a great phone call with a software vendor and it went as smoothly as it did because the software vendor was well positioned before the call.
Here's five quick tips that you can use before you meet with a potential software vendor.
1) Who: - Tell the softare company who you are and who you are relative to the decision making process. The sales person will eventually need to get to a closer, someone who can sign the contract and who is making the final decision on the platform. It's important for you to help the sales person help you. If you are kicking tires, tell them that. If you are the one who can buy the software during that call, tell them that too. Just don't buy on the first call.
2) When - Tell the software company when you plan to make the purchase. Is it today, next week, next quarter, sometime in the next decade? The sales person has to rank the call as to its "heat". By telling the sales person when you plan on making your decision, you are helping them understand the importance. If you are at the beginning of the year, quarter or month, you are likely to get a sales person who will give you more time.
3) What - Tell the software company what you want and try to be quantiative. In other words, you want a software that will improve your go-to-market delivery dates, that will cut down on the time you spend doing "x", that will help you hire people faster. You want to give the sales person a way to demonstrate what their technology does and how it can be the best option for you. A good sales person will be able to tell you quickly if they have the right solution for you. Ideally you have an RFP and you can use that during your communication with the software company.
4) Why - Tell them why you are looking at their company and why you are looking at other companies. They want to know how you came to be in contact with them. Tell them why you need the new software. Is this due to a challenge you are currently facing? Are you using old technology? Why is closely related to what but it also shows intent and motivation. What doesn't alone mean you need a new solution.
5) How - Tell them everything you can about how the process will work. Tell them if you need help installing the technology, if you are working with another company, if you have inhouse talent. Also tell them how you will purchase the platform. Is this a simple process or does it require a great deal of due diligence.
Sales people are the first person with whom you will work on purchasing software. It's important to help them help you.
Also a quick story:
I was doing an anonymous inquiry into a software company for one of my clients. We do that a lot.
The sales person was interested in my client name and I told them I couldn't give it out just yet. She told me it was year end for them and I immediately understood she has both a quarter and a year to close. She offered me a great pricing if I could close in the next few days but I told her we were not ready. We would not be ready until late winter in early 2020.
But I knew she needed to close as much done as possible before her year end and I knew I was in her way of doing so. As I was not a hot lead, I told her to rank me as a c/d and to get back to me in the new year. She laughed and said that it was as if I was looking at her call screen. We ended the call quickly and now I'm a cool lead for her to contact in the new year.
By giving her this information, she's able to focus on other leads. It's the end of her quarter and her year so she needs to get as much money in before year end. I'm not going to help her with that but I'm also not standing in her way of reaching her goal. She will remember me as a good buyer of software.