The right enterprise software can make your company more nimble, productive and, ultimately, successful. It can help you advance your brand experience, serve your customers, engage your employees, and stay ahead of the competition.

So where do you start?

Enterprise Software Strategy Comes First

From our perspective, you have to start with strategy. What business and customer experience challenges is the technology intended to solve? Is your intended purchase aligned with your goals, culture and organizational structure?

Too often, companies rush to invest in enterprise software before thinking through how they plan to use it and how they can maximize the value of their purchases.

Once you address those questions, you’ll have a clear idea of your expected outcomes, as well as a proposed technology roadmap to achieve them.

At that point, it’s time to jump into the vendor selection and procurement process.

Meeting Your Software Sales Rep

Your first face-to-face interaction with a potential enterprise software vendor is usually with a sales representative.

This can prove frustrating because most customers expect the sales rep to immediately answer their specific questions about the product, its technical specifications, service qualifications, and pricing.

Believe it or not, a good sales rep won’t give you that information right away.

When investigating enterprise solutions, the answers are surprisingly complex and varied. Rather than simply answer your questions, an experienced sales rep will instead ask you a series of insightful questions — questions that will make sure your purchase aligns with your strategy and expected outcomes.

The 1st Question Your Sales Rep Should Ask

Why?” is the first question a good sales rep will ask.

A good partner will:

  • Seek to understand your goals and recommend a combination of solutions and services to help you achieve those goals
  • Help you stay focused on your goals and outcomes over time — and periodically refocus your attention back to “why?” as the project progresses.

Conducting a ‘Gap Analysis’

In the next step, a good sales rep will ask questions to understand your current software weaknesses. What isn’t working for you and why?

This initial gap analysis aims to map your existing capabilities with your goals. From the sales rep’s perspective, the objective is to implement the right mix of services and solutions to minimize this gap.

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As a good partner, the sales rep will act first as a business consultant by validating that suggested products and services are good fits for your needs.

The Right “Fit”

This “qualification” sales stage should address whether you have the budget, the authority, and the time to implement the recommendations. It should also objectively determine whether the solutions would help you meet your goals.

If the answer is “yes,” then make sure the sales rep provides the information you need to whittle down your finalists.

Once the above criteria have been satisfied,make sure the suggested solution is within your budget. Then it’s time to turn the conversation to culture and approach. As the software buyer, your company has to feel a synergy with the provider to ensure long-term success.

Margaret Wise leads Arke Systems' initiatives related to their strategic technology partners including Microsoft and Sitecore. Margaret joined the Microsoft CRM ecosystem with the introduction of Microsoft CRM v1 and has been contributing her extensive CRM experience ever since. Margaret holds an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Brenau University. Margaret has also volunteered around Atlanta through Hands On Atlanta, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, at her church and her children’s school in Dunwoody. She has been a member of TAG (Technology Association of Georgia), CRM Society for 8 years and a board member for 3 years. As a member of WIT (Women in Technology), her favorite volunteer opportunities have been to mentor through Girls Get IT. Margaret is an avid reader and runner but mostly enjoys spending time with her husband, 10 year old son and 7 year old daughter.