Choosing the right advocate marketing software: Step 5 – Deep Dive Evaluation

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Continuing our Choosing the right advocate marketing software blog series, this week we discuss deep-dive evaluations of brand advocacy solutions.

Take a test drive

Cloud technology companies invariably offer instant-access trials. Again, using your requirements matrix as a guide, systematically check each one of your functional requirements (what you need the software to do) against each demo environment, amending and adjusting your scores as you go.

If a vendor doesn’t offer a trial environment for you to get hands-on with the software, the vendor may have something to hide. Their sales demo environment may be “staged” to show you new functionality that is not stable or ready for customers, hoping to get you firmly on the hook before you discover that you’ll need to wait months or even years for some of the prime functionality to come out of development.

Engage to get a clearer picture

By this stage you’ll have taken your online research as far as you can go and it’s time to engage directly with vendor salespeople to get more depth and clear up any questions that haven’t already been answered during the course of your research. This is also where you can quiz vendors about the non-functional requirements that you can’t see in a trial environment (we covered these earlier).

Connect with vendors for focused demos to get a better feel for how their offerings will solve your business problems. Vendors will want to show you their latest and greatest features. Resist. Use your evaluation matrix to guide what you ask to see. It’s your buying process that counts, not their sales process. Once you’re happy that the software does everything you need it to, then you can let the vendor to show you what they want to show you. It’s a good way to gauge their opinions on advocate marketing practices and the trends they see emerging.