In 2005, my husband and I decided we were ready to adopt a dog. I scoured the rescue sites and after countless hours and a number of inquiries, I found “the one,” a mischievous-eyed mutt of beagle (and who-knows-what-else) descent.
On the phone, the shelter owner told me that Ellie was probably NOT the dog for us and discouraged us from considering her. This was the fourth shelter Ellie had been in and she simply wasn’t attaching to any family that came to see her. I pushed and she invited us to come meet all of her dogs.
After our visit, we knew that Ellie really was the right dog for us. When I called the shelter owner to tell her, she cried with joy because Ellie had taken to us unlike any other family that had come to see her — she truly had picked us!
Imagine if we hadn’t gone for a visit. We would have lost out on the perfect dog for us and she would have lost out on finally being part of a family.
It was the face-to-face meeting that made all the difference.
In that same vein, few people would buy a car without a test drive, and fewer still would choose a house without a personal tour.
Software, though? Surely software is easier just to demo remotely so you can get back to business?
The irreplaceable value of meeting face-to-face
In a CIO article about choosing enterprise software, Chris Doig, CEO of software consulting company Wayferry, said, “Buying business-critical enterprise software entails significant risks for an organization. The goal of an evaluation and selection project is to purchase software that maximizes the ROI and minimizes implementation risks, but the sheer number of requirements make this difficult to achieve.”
As you evaluate your options and the pros and cons of each, you’ll likely go to industry events and trade shows, and of course, talk to your peers and friends. From there, you’ll probably find a number of providers, gather information from their websites and sales teams, then begin narrowing down your selection based on capability and functionality.
And no matter how careful and considered your search, there’s a good chance that there won’t be a clear winner in the end. What then?
Michael Massari, Senior Vice President of National Meetings and Events at Caesar’s Entertainment, outlined his own decision-making process in a recent Forbes article by Carol Kinsey Goman.
“If it’s not that important, send an email. If it’s important but not mission-critical, pick up the phone. If it’s critically important to the success of your organization, go see someone.”
Visiting the vendor gives you the power of learning more about the product, meeting the team, and gaining valuable insight about their business. According to the Association of Briefing Program Managers (ABPM), this “briefing” format has been ranked as the preferred method of gathering the information needed to make a business decision for over 20 years – chosen over seminars, conferences, and trade shows.
According to their 26th Annual Multi-Client Study, the ABPM has found that briefings:
- Strengthen business relationships
- Increase your knowledge of the host company’s products as well as provide a sense of the company’s management strength and commitment
- Help you make a decision faster. In fact, more than a third of customers who purchased said that their purchase cycle was compressed by an average of 26% as a result of a briefing.
In short, visiting the vendor in person gives you information in a consolidated format that will help you reach a decision more quickly.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
—Maya Angelou, Poet and Civil Rights Activist
I have personally facilitated over 1000 customer briefings for various companies.
A good briefing is a conversation, not a sales pitch. Almost without exception, the comment I’ve heard every time from the visitor has been about the value of stepping away and thinking strategically about the future of the team/organization/business.
Choosing new software is a big decision. More often than not, implementing new programs provides the ideal opportunity for taking a fresh look at processes, improving efficiencies, better managing workloads, and adding to your company’s capabilities.
By visiting a vendor, you gain the benefit of an off-sight meeting with their subject matter experts. If the briefing is done well, you’ll have opportunity to:
- Explore your business challenges and opportunities to broaden the conversation from a feature/function set to better achieving your strategic goals
- Discuss what’s happening in your industry to stay ahead of trends
- Meet the engineers and developers working on the program
- Learn about the vision for the software and future capabilities you can expect
- Hear from senior executives of the organization to understand how they lead the business
You may even find that it’s worthwhile to visit more than one vendor to get a better feel for the people behind the programs:
- Who do you want to do business with?
- Who cares about YOUR success and the success of your customers?
- Who has a unique vision?
- Who can partner with you above and beyond software functionality to help you succeed?
If you are an existing customer considering the next investment, you should also have the opportunity to make your voice heard. What’s going well? What can be improved? What functionality should be prioritized next?
The best vendors have great software and awesome people – the kind of people who really care about your success and, more importantly, the success of your customers. The best vendors become your partners and trusted advisors.
I’d like to invite you to visit LexisNexis and meet the people behind our programs
A photo of a dog available for adoption doesn’t begin to compare to playing fetch together. Just as with my husband’s and my experience with Ellie, sometimes it simply doesn’t pay to base decisions entirely on someone else’s recommendation.
In that same light, seeing a house in-person helps you feel what it would be like to live there, and how a car feels when you drive it matters a lot more than just counting cup-holders when you sit in it at the dealer.
Just like houses and cars and dogs, there’s value in understanding what drives the team that has designed, developed, and delivered the software you will use across your organization.
I invite you to come to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit LexisNexis Legal Software Solutions.
What you will get is a chance to step away and take advantage of our subject matter experts. If nothing else, you’ll gain a new point of view.
Ready for a visit?
The best way to request time with our software team in Raleigh is to work through an Account Manager or other LexisNexis contact. If you don’t yet have a contact, feel free to contact me personally at Carrie.Johnson@LexisNexis.com.