How to navigate the tech sales pitch and avoid buyers' remorse

by Kevin Mok
January 14, 2021

It’s easy to be dazzled by shiny gadgets and dramatic sales presentations when you’re choosing new tech.

Marketing technology in particular is made by and for marketers, so an attractive proposition is usually a guarantee. But it isn’t a guarantee that they’ll provide exactly what you need to make your digital vision come true.

In fact, our 2019 Australian Digital Success Report found that 1 in 4 Australian organisations felt buyers’ remorse after purchasing marketing technology.

That’s a lot of time, effort and money that could have been better spent. So if you’re going to be making a decision on which marketing tech to invest in, keep these five ideas in mind to make sure you get exactly what you need, with no regrets. 

Five steps to avoiding buyers' remorse

1) Prepare your requirements ahead of time

Firstly, you've got to have a really good understanding of what you want and what you need.

The first step to doing this is by creating user stories. We've made a guide to user stories with more detail, but in short, it involves prepping short statements from the perspective of your users about how they'll use the system.

Following that, one of the best ways to map out your priorities is to use the MoSCoW framework. This helps you understand what features your chosen system Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won't have.

Example MoSCoW framework

Getting specific is really important here. Your RFQ (request for quotation) needs to specify the needs you've identified through the methods above.

Without a precise explanation of your use cases and requirements, you run the chance of being sold something that either doesn't cover all your needs—leading to further costs down the line—or has a range of unnecessary, extraneous features that do nothing but bump up the final price.

2) Request a demonstration of the tool

Next, it's important to see how the tool works—not just in general, but specifically for your use cases.

Any software vendor worth your time should be happy to customise a 'sandbox' demonstration for you—ideally giving you login credentials for a trial version of the tool that has some of your own data already plugged in.

Access to this sort of interactive demo environment that you can play around with is a much better option than a Powerpoint slide deck. You'll quickly get to grips with the capabilities and limitations of the product, and understand whether or not the user interface is pleasant and easy to use.

It's a good way of seeing how the tool tackles challenges that you're actually facing, rather than letting a sales rep dazzle you with a presentation that shows things in an overly positive light.

3) Consider an independent third party

Sometimes you need a second opinion to make sure you're making the right decision.

Like anything in life, consulting impartial experts can make big choices a little less overwhelming, and will help you identify issues that you might otherwise have missed.

In our case, clients often come to us for help navigating the sales pitch process. They ask us to analyse the best vendor out of the choices they've been offered, as we're technology-agnostic and won't have any biased views towards one platform over another. Being active in the not-for-profit space means we've got a good view of what's out there, too, so we can recommend other options they might have missed out on.

So when we worked with the AFL Players' Association to guide them through a significant digital transformation, we helped identify which tools were appropriate for their needs, identifying those that complemented their existing capabilities while opening up a whole new range of digital opportunity—buyers' remorse was not an issue.

Whoever you end up choosing for guidance, make sure they're impartial when it comes to technology affiliation, and boast a high level of expertise in your industry or domain.

4) Avoid scope creep

'Scope creep' is the tendency to incrementally add features or goals in a project as it goes along, so you end up with something entirely different to what was originally planned. And you don't always spot that it's happening at the time.

It's something you really need to consciously avoid when going through a purchase decision.

As humans, we're prone to getting over-excited when planning large projects - thinking of new possibilities is easy when imagining the future, but you have to remain grounded and avoid the mistake of overdoing it: "Ooh, we could add this... and this... and this!"

The way to do this is to continuously link back to the requirements you've already identified. With each feature you're paying for, make sure you can point to the exact need in your stories or MoSCoW table.

Anything outside of that range is highly likely to be an avoidable cost. Not just in financial terms, but in complexity - staff will have to learn how to use the features, they'll have to work nicely with existing systems, and you'll need to internally support users who make use of them. Do you really want to be distracted by things that were never really needed in the first place? Keep it lean, and only buy what you need - don't be tempted to expand your definition of 'essential' as time goes on.

5) Consider your onboarding and long-term needs

Remember, you're not just paying for the technology itself. You'll have to make sure every stakeholder knows how to use it—and that comes with a cost.

Onboarding takes time, labour hours, and direct costs. Learning 'on the job' won't cut it when it comes to marketing tech, as the cost of getting things wrong can spiral if you're not careful.

Few organisations routinely include budget allowance for training and customisations to their marketing technology platforms. These have to be included in vendor proposals and roll-out plans, otherwise they'll be left with a nasty shock when things don't magically slot into place on the first day.

So when you're making a purchase decision, consider what commitments you'll be making when it comes to actually implementing your new tools.

Long-term, are things likely to change? Will you want to add more capabilities? Will your IT setup and staffing organisation be sufficient to make it all work, or will you need to invest more in those too? These are the things you need to keep in mind when considering a future in which you'll be living with the outcome of these decisions each day.

Need help with choosing tech in 2021?

We've worked with hundreds of organisations to help them implement tech to grow. If you need some advice, just reach out to us.