Purchasing software can be a cumbersome or quick process. Depending on the size of a company, you could use a few to dozens or hundreds of different software products. At Stackify, we are always looking for tools to make our lives easier and make us more efficient. After all, they say that tools are what make us human.
Shopping for products can be a time consuming and complicated process. As someone who sells software products and spends a lot of time buying them, I thought I would share some of the things I look for.
1. Free Trials & Self Service
I love products that I can sign up for online and try. If a company doesn’t offer a free trial and clear pricing, that means to me that the product must be very complicated and expensive. That may be necessary for some very complex enterprise products, but that is definitely the old way of doing business. People love self-service. Things like working online demos, product videos, free trials and more are so helpful for shoppers.
Sometimes you sign up for a product and get blown away by just how easy it is to use. Slack was a good example of that for me. It did a good job of leading me through the application and it was amazingly simple. This type of experience is harder to create but is definitely what software buyers expect these days. I can usually tell within a few minutes of trying a product if I feel like it will do what I want.
2. Product reviews
It doesn’t matter if you are buying a as seen on TV gadget, laptop, TV, or software product, reviews are very helpful. Many times, I have stood in Best Buy and looked a product up on Amazon just to read the reviews and product comparisons. Brick and mortar stores don’t typically provide much information about the products they are selling.
A little research online can provide so much information quickly that can help with a buying decision. This goes for products we buy in our personal and professional lives. Review sites like G2Crowd.com are an excellent resource for reading reviews about software products. Their product comparisons, product information and verified reviews are very helpful in the buying process.
More often than not, I actually prefer reading the negative views. It’s helpful to see lots of positive views, and that is of course important. But, we all know that not everything is perfect. I want to know what the potential problems and weaknesses are of the product. The only way to know that is from the candid comments in reviews. It is also great if you can see the provider of the product respond and help resolve those issues.
3. Details, Details, Details
Recently I have been spending a lot of time looking at website chat software. They all do the same thing, right? The differences between the products is in the little details. I’m looking for some very specific features. One of the challenges for software vendors is making their websites and marketing materials easy to understand but also full of details. It is a tough balance that we fight with all the time at Stackify.
As a software consumer, I love being able to drill down from high level marketing materials down to specific product details. This could be more product marketing content, blogs, documentation, or other resources. It is nice to be able to jump in to the documentation for products and get down to some of the nuts and bolts of how it works.
Buying software products can take a lot of time. Nothing beats referrals from friends and online reviews for quickening the process. Sites like G2Crowd help by focusing on the top reviewed products. I typically spend a few minutes looking at a vendor’s website trying to figure out if it has the features I need. The next thing I look for is a free trial and good reviews. The last thing I want to do is schedule a meeting for a demo!
Matt Watson is the Founder & CEO of Stackify. He has been a developer/hacker for over 15 years and loves solving hard problems with code. While working in IT management he realized how much of his time was wasted trying to put out production fires without the right tools. He founded Stackify in 2012 to create an easy to use set of tools for developers.