Why we love evaluations – and how they upset the ‘big’ vendors

Usually we know our customers very well by the time we’ve got to some sort of paid engagement. We’ve normally been working with them for a few months in ‘evaluation mode’. This contravenes all the guidance and wisdom out there regarding enterprise software sales – after all, it increases the ‘cost of customer acquisition’.

This concept is alien to us. Like some other small vendors, we don’t think of ‘customer acquisition’. The team here are excited by working with new people, by extending our network of partners and delivering something customers will use for a long, long time and grow to love.

Evaluations allow us to work with a customer so that we know exactly what they need. There are risks but really we carry them all. As a small vendor, we accept that its innovative software and service delivery that keep customers coming back and we regard this as starting at the very beginning.

This is a problem for our competitors, particularly big vendors. A long evaluation is high risk, takes real effort and a prolonged engagement. They can’t do it; their jobs depend on closing a deal. Our company depends on delivering a solution.

So at a big vendor you’re likely to find a deal driven by it being end of year, or end of quarter. These are not considerations that should affect you, the customer.

Big vendors have sales teams that are great at looking after you…until the sale. They love their hierarchical management structure. Post sale it’s not so great for a customer, who gets passed around the organisation depending on whether there’s a problem and how important the customer is. The person who sold you the solution isn’t interested in the delivery of it, or the value you get out of it. So they’re absolutely not interested in giving it to you for free for a time. Who in the hierarchy would look after that?

Perhaps it’s like buying a car. When you buy a new car, the car dealer hopes that by treating you well you’ll get it serviced there. And when you need a new one, you’ll come back. If someone is selling you an enterprise software license…they don’t care if you keep coming back. You’re already locked in to a maintenance contract.

So we love evaluations. Take us for a test drive. Their jobs depend on closing a deal. Our company depends on delivering a solution.

As always if you have any questions or suggestions, head over to our LinkedIn group and share your thoughts.

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