Make Your Software Search More Seamless With a Software Advisor

By: Collin Couey on February 28, 2023

If you’re a small business professional from any industry in charge of leading a new software purchase, but you have limited experience researching and shortlisting vendors, our advisors should be your first call. Without them, you will have to deal with the manual labor of compiling and evaluating the many options out there, all while endeavoring to end up with the best possible system for your company.

You will spend more time than necessary vetting vendors without creating a short list of your must-have features, which often leads to going with the first option that catches your eye. This will lead to a loss in revenue and the possibility of switching to another vendor down the road.

Our advisors are here to find you software that will stick. Below, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks from our advisors to make your software selection process as smooth as possible. We’ve also included a series of statistics from our Software Advice 2022 SMB Buyer Behaviors Survey* in which we surveyed small business owners about their software decision-making process.

What are software advisors, and what do they do?

Our team of advisors is based in Austin, Texas, and they’ve helped over 900,000 people find software. They specialize in specific industries, including construction, maintenance, retail, legal, medical, manufacturing, and much more, which means you’ll always be paired up with someone who knows your market. The advisor’s only goal is to help your business thrive by assisting you in making the best software selection possible.

According to our Software Advice 2022 SMB Buyer Behaviors Survey*, nearly 50% of organizations spend three to six months in the evaluation, selection, and purchase process for new software with an additional 29% spending six to nine months. That’s a lot of time to have your employees and other resources focused on something so specific. Our advisors are here to make that search and decision as seamless as possible and to speed up the process without sacrificing quality.

Selecting software comes with a lot of roadblocks. That’s why we’ve written extensively about the different tips and tricks that you can use to make the best software purchase possible.

The process to talk to an advisor is simple. First, you fill out a form or schedule a specific time that you wish to be contacted. You can even call us directly to speak to someone whenever you’re ready during normal business hours. Next, tell us about your needs. An advisor will spend a few minutes talking with you about your specific goals with software. 

What business problems are you hoping the software will solve? What features and functionality are you looking for? What’s your budget? Once we have an understanding of this information, we’ll email you a list of personalized software recommendations to get you started.

Advisors create a shortlist of vendors who have everything software buyers are looking for

Having too few options is not great, but focusing on every single vendor who has your required software features can also bog down your process. We’ll provide a list of up to five vendors that are a fit for your business based on the pain points and business challenges you’re facing.

For instance, according to our Software Advice 2022 SMB Buyer Behaviors Survey*, 34% of software buyers said ease of use was the most important factor for software selection. 

If that’s your primary concern, we’ll be able to talk to you about vendors with high ease-of-use scores based on how real users rate them in their reviews. 

It’s important to know that our advisors are not sales people and are not attached to the sale of the product. They don’t get anything from you purchasing software, so it’s in their best interest to help you find the best software for your business. 

Our advisors aren’t there to tell you one system is better than the other, but rather to provide you with up to five viable options so you can narrow it down yourself based on a variety of factors. It makes it much easier for you to evaluate and parse products right off the bat.

After your call with the advisor, you’ll have the names of up to five top vendors that all fit into the criteria you’re looking for, and they’ll even connect you with those vendors to set up a demo.

What we aren't

While we’re here to help, we won’t get involved in helping you decide which of the systems is the best; we’re just here to lay out your best options so that you can make the most informed decision. Additionally, we’re not favoring any particular system. We want you to be empowered to demo these systems to decide what’s right for your business. And we don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction, so we don’t push any one vendor’s system over another. We do our best to give you the solutions that will best set you up for success.

Advisors help you focus on priorities across a wide range of software solutions

If you go into your software search with preconceived notions about what software you need, you’re more likely to miss out on other, better software options for your business that are cheaper and have features better suited to your business needs.

Stat about how many software providers businesses looked at before making their purchase decision

This demonstrates the importance of not jumping the gun and choosing the best-known software provider or a system that you’ve used before.

For example, an advisor can help someone looking for HR software compare a big, integrated solution that includes all the bells and whistles to a more specific software solution that’s tailor-built to tackle a very specific problem. The larger, best-of-breed application might be more expensive and include some unnecessary features that some HR teams won’t need, so you’ll want to know the different options out there instead of going for the one everyone knows. 

It’s also important to understand the problems you are trying to solve. Once you know what you need the software to resolve, we can hone in on several vendors that will be a good fit for that particular problem. A lot of times, buyers might know some of the more popular names in the vendor landscape, but we can clue you into lesser-known companies that offer more niche solutions that fit your needs at a cheaper cost.

Example: Let’s say you’re responsible for recruiting for your business. You need an applicant tracking solution to help with hiring, but you don’t want to replace the software solution you already have. We can recommend options to help you find an applicant tracking solution that integrates with your current suite of software; or, if it’s more cost effective and a better fit, we can provide you with more robust options that have the features you need.

We also run into buyers who are familiar with the big names in their industries because they worked for a larger company before starting their own small business and are comfortable with what they know. However, those larger software solutions are often created with larger businesses or enterprises in mind. Sometimes, finding a smaller vendor that focuses on your specific business size and function is cheaper and more effective. 

Ultimately, we’re here to help you find the perfect solution for your business needs, and sometimes that means providing options you might not have heard about before.

Advisors weed out systems that don’t have your must-have features

Instead of going from vendor site to vendor site to see if they have your must-have features, our advisors can help you find a list of software vendors who check all your boxes.

It’s not that vendors purposefully make their websites misleading or anything so nefarious, but oftentimes when you’re looking for specific features, different vendors might call it different things. For instance, you might be looking for a CRM with customer retention features, so you go to a few sites and realize that some vendors call it customer success, while others still call it customer service, while others still call it customer support. Rarely will the feature you’re looking for be explicitly called exactly what you expect, which can be frustrating and can slow your search down.

Sometimes even finding a list of features on a vendor site is complicated. But this is where we can help. Our advisors help business owners identify vendors that specialize in their must-have features. If they're looking for a solution that has multiple features, but one of those features is really driving their search from a business case perspective, we can help target which software solution is best.

Example: Let’s say your team is looking for an accounting solution that includes a CRM. What’s more important: Having a good accounting tool, or having a good CRM tool? One of the benefits of CRM software being the largest software type in the vendor landscape is that they are usually able to integrate with nearly any software solution. So it’s important to figure out if you really want to find the best accounting system based on what has a CRM, or do you want to have the best accounting software for your business and then get a CRM that is best for your system?

Regardless, we can diagnose your actual need. Maybe your solution is two different software solutions instead of one large suite.

It’s also easy to see a flashy vendor website and get wowed by all the fancy features, when in reality your business might need something much smaller. More features doesn’t always mean better for your business because often, the more features and functionality a software suite has, the more expensive the license is.

Advisors give warm handoffs to vendors which saves time

Cold calling vendors usually means having the same conversation over and over again. With your permission, we’ll give the vendor all of the relevant information so that your conversations with them are as productive as possible.

One of the inevitable parts of starting any software search is the understanding that you’re going to be receiving a lot of phone calls from prospective vendors, sometimes at inconvenient times. This can lead to a lot of additional frustration and resentment toward the process which can lead you to select something prematurely just to get the process over with. 

A great benefit that you receive from working with an advisor is that we have access to a lot of vendor calendars, so we can schedule demos directly with the vendor at a time that fits your schedule. That way, you know when it's coming and can prepare time out of your schedule to handle it. 

Or perhaps you aren’t sure what time works best for you at the moment—we provide vendors with feedback about the best time of day or week to reach out so that you aren’t contacted out of the blue.

According to the aforementioned SMB Buyer Survey*, there are two factors that have surfaced as the most important to respondents when they’re in the process of selecting software. The first is the trustworthiness of the vendor’s sales team (42%), and the second is the flexibility to adapt the way vendors sell to the way you want to buy (41%).

Our advisors help provide the vendors as much information about your specific business needs as possible in order to ensure your conversations with them go as smoothly as possible.

We’ll also go through the structure of the demo process with you during the call if that’s something you want more information about. Vendors typically offer a virtual conference call and log you into a live version of their software so that you can fiddle around with it. 

That way, you get to see how the vendor can solve your unique problem. And after the call with our advisors, they’ll have all the notes about what specific business problems you’re facing so you don’t have to repeat yourself and can jump straight into the meat of what you’re looking for.

We recommend having a list of questions available when talking with vendors to ask how they would help you resolve these specific business problems. That way, you can ensure firsthand that they are able to actually help you. 

For some more insights into what kinds of questions to consider, check out: Your Software Buying Guide For Cutting Through Software Vendor Marketing Jargon

We’re here for you whenever you’re ready to connect

One of our primary goals is to empower you to have more control over the process, so connecting with our team of advisors, especially at the very beginning of your software search, should be a no-brainer. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of business leaders find the right match for their business, and there’s no downside.

A 15-minute chat can be the difference between spending a couple weeks selecting software instead of a couple months, and it can save you money and headaches down the road by matching you with the correct vendor right off the bat.

So what are you waiting for? Schedule a call or click here to chat with a software advisor now.

Survey methodology

*Software Advice conducted the Software Advice 2022 SMB Buyer Behaviors Survey between September 2022 to October 2022 among 1,513 respondents from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and France and from SMBs with revenue of less than $1 Billion and 2-999 employees. Respondents were screened for their involvement in software purchasing decisions and those who were a leader or member of a group who had significant influence on a software purchase. Results of this study do not represent global findings or the market as a whole but reflect sentiment of the respondents and companies surveyed.