Ultimately, if there’s any way you can make the time to fully research and perform due diligence on your technology vendor, you should do so. Here are a few tips on what to keep an eye on as you make your business decisions.
1. Determine your needs and requirements. Before reaching out to any vendors, spend some time taking a close look at what is motivating your drive to purchase the real estate software in question. Always match the technology to the business requirements – not the reverse. What are the biggest sales and marketing challenges you are facing right now, and what are the biggest opportunities you are passing by? Create a brief one to two-page outline of prioritized list of needs and wants. Such a document will help guide your selection process and keep you from being seduced by the wide variety of technology features and capabilities.
2. Generate buy-in from stakeholders. From the top of your organization down to the front lines, there needs to be a commitment to utilizing technology to support sales and marketing initiatives. Inevitably, there will be push back from those who are perhaps not as technologically savvy as they should be, or those who see a system in place that is “working” already and don’t understand the reasons for change. Respond to those arguments intelligently when possible, and ignore them when not possible. Keep the path clear and stay confident in your purpose.
3. Don’t be afraid of sounding stupid. That may seem harsh, but it’s true – you need to ask “dumb” questions of vendors in order to get every vital detail regarding the money you’ll be spending. If you need to, recruit a tech-savvy advocate to help you in vetting vendors and understanding the minute details of their presentation and solutions. View every vendor presentation as a learning experience – even if a vendor comes in with a quote that falls out of your budget, they still may have insights on their products that can help guide your decision-making process.
4. Decide between software as a service offered via the internet or “on premise” software. One of the most popular trends in technology in recent years has been the rise of “Software as a Service,” or SaaS. Through this delivery method for software, the software functionality is provided through a high-speed Internet connection. All maintenance, enhancements, upgrades, and customer support is managed by the vendor for a recurring monthly service fee. There is no hardware, networking, storage, or database technology investment required.
The simplicity, the lower financial and technical risk plus the inherent accountability of SaaS vendors can be quite compelling, but your specific needs will dictate whether a SaaS deployment is more cost effective and appropriate than an on-premise installation. Research should be devoted to this area in order to determine the best solution for your corporation.
5. Insist on the best customer service. Your business is building and selling homes. Your provider is in the technology business. Any vendor should understand this and be well equipped to bridge that gap and have a level of expertise about your business. Customer references to validate the vendors implementation approach and support responsiveness should be a given. If not, simply continue the search – you deserve the best value, service, and functionality for your sales & marketing software investment.