Should you buy business software based on a demo?

Would you buy a car relying solely on the those ads with the hyper-frenetic voiceover about features that don’t really matter?

Do you really care how the vehicle will look cruising through a mountain range? Or if it can be dropped by a crane without damaging it? Or that there is pure silver dust, hand-polished into the wood dash?

Chances are the things that really matter are warranty details, safety features, storage and anticipated maintenance costs.

Similarly, when investing in a business management solution, you want to think about the features you really need – tools that help you meet compliance, manage inventory, make smarter decisions and integrate your islands of data.

Sex appeal is not a selling feature.

That’s not to say demos don’t have a place in your decision-making. However, make like a boy scout and be prepared. Know what you are looking for and ask for a demo of those particular features. It’s like checking Kelley Blue Book or edmunds.com before taking that test drive. Get the Carfax! Otherwise, you may be sucked in by those shiny features that look great but are completely unnecessary.

5 Key Questions You Need to Ask to Avoid the Demo Trap are:

1) What is the architecture and design of the software?
Does this software have the specific features and functionality you require for your business? Before you go on one of the most important buying decisions of your career, have a deep understanding of the features and functionalities you require for every department of your business before interviewing software consultants.

2) Is the software proven to work?
Ask for customer testimonials from each company. Have any software sales consultants organize visits to their existing customers to find how their planning and implementation processes went. Plan questions to ask ahead of time.

3) Will the software be compatible with your current systems?
If the new solution won’t integrate well with the legacy programs you have already invested in, it defeats the purpose of getting a comprehensive business management system.

4) Will your employees accept and utilize it?
This means consulting with your employees in the early stages, from those in the corner offices to the mailroom. What annoys them about your current system(s) and what functions do they need to make them more productive?

5) Will the software scale with your company as it grows?
You’re making a significant investment – ideally, you will be using it for another 10 years. That means the software must be scalable and flexible to adapt to your changing business needs.

For more tips on how to choose the right business management software for your company, have a look at The Top 5 Questions to Ask When Sourcing an ERP Solution Provider.

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