You’ve narrowed your list of potential vendors down to six or less – now all you need to do is pick a winner… but they all look so similar! They all claim they have the “most features in the market”, the “best so and so”, and “the X, Y, and Z you can’t live without.” So which one is the right choice?
Staring at vendor after vendor with identical everything, you may wonder if there even are any differences!
Here are five steps to help you put some space between these companies:
#1 Ask the vendor why they’re better
That’s right, just ask, “Why you and not vendor A, B, or C?” Try to drive them toward concrete features that you can compare like, “We’re the only ones that offer automatic real-time dispatch editing” or “Our customer service calls you!” You don’t want marketing points like “We are the confirmed leader in field service management software” and “We the have the best service in the game!” because many vendors will claim that. You may only get a few solid answers, but these are the concrete points that differentiate them from other vendors.
#2 Take a free trial
Most vendors will offer you a free trial (if they don’t, ask for one). Take the time to run the trial: pay attention to how easy the software is to use and the friendliness of the interface. This is a great way to differentiate between programs. Some will be very easy to use, others… not so much. During the trial, take notes!
Before the trial ends, give Customer Service a call. Pay attention to how long it takes to get an answer. Do they immediately pick up with a technician? Do you get sent to an automated help system and wait on hold for an hour? Or do they send you to a third-party technical help company?
This is a good indicator of how their Customer Service will be if you buy the software. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily show you exactly what “real” support would be like. Just like the trial isn’t 100% “real”, the call will only give you a good picture of the software.
#3 Talk to customers
Talking to (or better yet, visiting) current customers with businesses similar to yours will help you bridge the gap between trial and purchase. Ask the referral customer basic questions (product functionality/features, implementation, support, training, etc…), and a few of these questions:
- What other software providers did you consider?
- Why did you choose the company you did?
- Have you had any major issues with the product?
- Is there anything “missing” from the product?
- What would you change about the process or the product?
These buyers may not have the exact same experience as you will have, but they still give you a good idea of the vendor and software experience.
#4 Research the vendor
While all vendor websites look about the same, if you do some research on the vendor outside their website, you will find some interesting facts. Facts that may make or break the deal. Investigate factors like:
- Financial stability
- Customer and product track record
- Good and bad reviews
- How many years the company has been in business
Keep in mind when thinking about how long they’ve been in business, “old” may mean different things depending on vendor: “good” (stable, around for a while) or “bad” (outdated, old technology).
#5 Compare the total cost of ownership
Once you’ve considered the other factors, it’s time to get very detailed about the price. Really drive the salesperson by continually asking them until they give you a total price. Even when they give you a price, continue to bug them about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which includes the purchase, maintenance, support, training, etc. (While the base price may be low, vendors will often add charges that could more than double the bill. Like a $100 a month program that, by the way, has a $2500 setup fee). Comparing TCO is a great way to differentiate between vendors and ensure you are comparing apples to apples.
Also, some vendors (usually those selling installed software) will charge a one-time fee, while others (usually those selling SaaS) will charge monthly fees. So it’s the difference between a one-time $1500 fee and paying $80 a month. Make sure you are comparing TCO for the same time period.
While there may not be a big difference in price or pricing model, even a small difference could help you choose a winner between tied companies.
Hopefully, now, instead of looking at five clones, you’re looking at five brothers. And with any luck, one of them stands out!
Looking for Field Service Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Field Service Management software solutions.