At IOS we do hundreds of software demonstrations a year. As an information management technology company one would expect that. But the funny thing is I have this growing feeling that a great number of them have minimum value to the prospect, to the audience. Why?
It’s not that we don’t do great demos or don’t understand our products because we do.
It’s not that we don’t have tremendous and widely acclaimed software from great companies to demo because we do.
It’s not that we don’t understand the applications and typical business problems that need solving because we do…we have installed hundreds of document management systems.
The reason is because in so many cases, at the beginning of the interaction we willingly engage in a bit of “mini theatre” where we agree to play a certain role with the prospect. Asking and answering, answering and asking, showing and telling…the biggest sin being that, thru no fault of either party, we are simply talking about the wrong things.
The subtext is fear; our fear is that if we don’t do this dance of feature / functionality we will be wrongfully perceived as being unable to meet requirements or not seem like an easy to work with “get along guy.”
Conversely the prospect’s fear is buying a somewhat expensive product that simply does not do what is needed, is the wrong choice, is something that won’t talk to existing host systems, is too difficult to manage or get the rank and file to adopt, or is something that won’t accommodate newer platforms such as mobile.
All reasonable fears except for one thing: today all really good high end content management software typically does all of that…whatever the requirement. When we are brought in by a client to replace another provider’s solution (which is happening more and more) it is almost never a product deficiency. Plain and simple it was the provider that was the problem; it is rarely the “car” and almost always the “mechanic” at fault. Today in content management it has never been easier to buy a great car and yet at the same time never been more difficult to identify and align with a great “mechanic.”
So going back; this often can be traced to the buying decisions that were largely centered on the demo. All products look good in a demo, even second tier products, they even verge on seeming identical. But the implementation, someone taking the time to understand the nuances of exactly how your department works now and what it needs to be better, sharing what other similar companies have done to improve. That is not your everyday. And then most importantly – actually fulfilling everything you said would happen and not disappearing until it does just that. That is a good mechanic.
Believe me when I tell you this: you think you are shopping for a product – you are not. You really want to be shopping for the end game moment: your specific user experience once everything is installed, configured, tested, documented and trained on. That end point experience should be the beginning and focus of your search.
What level and form of commitment is in place to guarantee that when the dust settles and the work is done that your solution – not your “product” is not only working as promised but more critically is accomplishing all the things that made you buy it in the first place?
IOS focuses on the end user experience. Like a film going backwards imagine a giant rewind where we start at the end and you can see in reverse all the things that had to happen to ensure that the productivity gain is occurring; the right product, the configuration, the indexing schema, the integrations, the training, the user adoption on and on. That is the IOS approach; start with what needs to happen to improve client world and work backwards from there.
So if we collectively focus on the very end we can drill to the heart of it all by answering excellent questions such as: what is your process to ensure that I get what I need once the check is written? How do you commit to that and how do you guarantee it? Who in your company will be taking care of me and how many of those are there exactly?
That is an authentic conversation and one we love to have. The end is the best place to start.