purchasing software survey

Survey: What Buyers Find Most Important Before and After Purchasing Software

No product will ever meet all of the ideal criteria of a client. Especially when it comes to business software, the key to customer satisfaction and finding the right fit is taking two specific steps: making a list of ideal criteria, and considering which trade-offs you would be willing to make.

In some cases, this could be boosting the budget a bit to ensure you get all the bells and whistles that you need. In other cases, it could mean trading in some of those bells and whistles for a simpler user interface. Either way, the idea remains the same: the goal should never be to create the best objective software possible (since that is generally impossible). Instead, it should be about creating what works well for your customers or business.

These tradeoffs are at the core of a buyer’s decision making process. Because of that, it is important to consider what buyers find important both before and after purchasing software. Will it scale? Will it show measurable results right away? Is there good customer support?

The team at TrustRadius recently assessed their pool of customers to answer this question in specific: what was most important to customers before and after purchasing software? The answers aren’t necessarily surprising, but they are insightful for ensuring both customer acquisition and customer success.

Before & After: Adaptability and Scalability Become More Important

In the TrustRadius study, customers were asked to look at a list of 11 software criteria. From there, they were asked to identify the three most important criteria for software before they actually purchase it. In this case, the top three answers were:

  • A product that shows measurable results (39% of customers)
  • A product that can adapt to fit your processes (34% of customers)
  • A product that will be adopted quickly (33% of customers)

In contrast, the three criteria at the bottom of the list were a robust user community (12%), a category leader (11%), and has “all the bells and whistles” (5%).

Software Purchase Survey

TrustRadius then asked customers who had already made a software purchase to rank the same criteria by order of what was most important to them post-purchase. The results were quite different than the pre-purchase results. The top criteria were:

  • Can adapt to fit your processes (42% of buyers)
  • Will scale as you grow (39% of buyers)
  • Shows measurable results (35% of buyers)

In other words, the criteria for showing measurable results dropped to the #3 spot, while adaptability and scalability both increased.

When you think about it, the results aren’t all that surprising. Before making a software purchase, customers are most likely looking for a guaranteed return on their investment (the measurable results). Once that software is purchased and implemented, customers start looking at new uses for the software (adaptability) and how to harness its power as they grow (scalability).

A good example is on how a tool can be easy to use but not necessarily scalable. The study from TrustRadius uses an example from a specific review of Asana:

“When I carried it over to my full-time job at a digital marketing agency, it didn’t scale as well to the needs of a similarly-sized team that was running many concurrent projects (about 20 across the account) at once, each containing multiple steps of concepting and internal/client review. Overall this is still a great tool for relatively small- to medium-sized, fast-paced collaborative projects.”

Another review Hubspot CRM highlights scalability as an important factor in deciding on a CRM (along with integration):

“Does the CRM software help sales find more info about prospects and customers? Can the CRM software easily be scaled to meet growing demands for B2B markets?”

Still another reviewer of AWS focuses in on scalability and reliability:

“AWS has a well known reputation for being reliable for a number of different services. As your company scales, it is known to be the go to in order to provide the reliability needed to grow as a business.”

All of this drives home the same point: after customers actually purchase software, scalability and adaptability become the most important factors in determining customer satisfaction and success.

Determining Adaptability and Scalability in Software

Flexibility and scalability may be the two most important factors for many customers, but they may not end up being the most important factors for you. This is why it’s so important to establish the trade-off approach that we talked about above. Not only that, but if you decide that adaptability and scalability are criteria you’re willing to trade out you should also determine how you will address the limitations when it comes time to make process changes, customize the platform, and retain performance when you scale.

There are a few ways that customers can determine adaptability and scalability before they purchase the software.

  • Ask for a Demo: One suggestion for potential buyers is to request a custom trial of the business software in question. Teams providing the software should be ready to provide this so that both parties can assess the needs of the customer, as well as the scalability and adaptability of the software.
  • Talk to other Customers: This is a tried and true approach for assessing a product. Asking other customers gives potential buyers a good idea of what the software looks like in practice. Since a large portion of current customers value scalability and flexibility, potential customers are likely to hear about this as well.
  • Search for Clues in Customer Reviews: Of course, potential customers can leverage the accessibility of online customer reviews in making their decision. Many software reviews include specific insight as to the adaptability, scalability, and usability of the software.

These are just some of the ways a potential customer could choose to engage with your software before they purchase. It also shows what current customers highlight as the most important criteria. The takeaway here should be this: no matter what features you include in your software, scalability and adaptability should be at the core of your decision.

Brooklin Nash
Brooklin Nash

Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.
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