Purchasing A Product vs. Investing in a Partner
Almost everyone (88%) researches online before buying a product, but not everyone researches beyond that.
And that is the difference between purchasing a product and finding a partner.
In this blog, the product is software for your insurance agency. Whether you’re looking for a quoting tool, enrollment platform, agency management system, or something else, the way you research matters.
When you’re just purchasing a product, you’re only thinking about how that product will affect your business, positively or negatively.
When you’re looking to invest in a true partner, you’re not only thinking about how that product will affect your business, but how the people behind it will.
Example of Researching Beyond the Product
Let’s look at a simplified example: shoes.
Something important to remember as we go through this example is price. I want to touch on it because it can often put blinders on you when researching, and you don’t want that when you’re making a decision as important as purchasing software for the betterment of your business.
The Price Issue
To illustrate what I mean about price, let’s say I’ve decided on a whim that I want some cute brown shoes to wear to work. I wouldn’t say I need them, but they would be nice to have. In this instance, price is big. I want the shoes, but I’m not going to spend more than $25 because the benefit of having them isn’t that great. They won’t affect my life that much.
However, when talking about a purchase that will affect my life (like software will for your business), price isn’t the driving force. Running shoes is a good comparison.
I need good running shoes because I’ve decided to better my life, physically and mentally, by running. Price is not the most important thing here because this is a big purchase concerning my health, and well-being. I am putting a lot more into this decision because it will affect my life, and I expect this purchase to be long-term.
Now that you understand the concern of price here, let’s keep moving with this example.
If I were researching running shoes solely thinking about the product itself, I would probably do a Google search and look for the features I needed in a shoe. Maybe I need some running shoes that perform well for a certain distance.
I find some that meet that need and continue to look at added benefits the shoes might afford me. I decide to purchase.
However, like I mentioned, these running shoes are a big deal for me. I want them to not only meet my needs, but I expect they’ll help me improve my well-being, and I also expect to maintain a relationship with the brand since I’ll be needing new running shoes every so often and/or will want to upgrade as I get better.
That’s why, in this case, I’m researching running shoes considering the product and the people behind them. I would probably start with a Google search again and find the ones that met my needs feature-wise.
But then, I would also browse their website looking for where the shoes come from, who makes them, what their return policy looks like, who recommends them, what other services they provide, how often they release new shoes with added benefits, the different types available, etc.
This same technique can be applied to buying software for your insurance agency.
Why does researching beyond the product matter?
The software is sure to enhance your business if you’re picking the right one, but you must consider the company behind it, as well. If you’re not, you might be overlooking factors that matter more than the software itself.
The people behind the product affect your business in at least these ways:
- The data migration process
- The service you’ll receive getting started and ongoing
- The software security and maintenance
- The software enhancements (and how much those enhancements are based off your feedback)
- The educational resources you’ll have access to regarding the software
- The educational resources you’ll have access to regarding best practices for your business
Beyond these immediate effects, knowing the company behind the software can help you understand how much of a priority your agency is to the company. Not to get into too much detail, but knowing whether the company is privately held or publicly shared plays into this a bit. It also can make a difference if the software company is investor funded. Each of these business plans requires the company to answer to different people, so you’ll want to understand which way the vendor you’re thinking of doing business operates.
When you look at all of these factors, it becomes apparent that, even though the software itself has to be the right fit, the people do too. And unfortunately, not all insurance agencies consider this during the sales process.
Even if the product itself meets their needs, agencies who don’t consider the company behind the software might find themselves in one or more of the following situations:
- Without adequate initial training to get up and running in a timely manner
- Without a quick way to reach a customer service representative in the event of a question or issue
- Without a help center to turn to to learn how to use all of the software’s capabilities
- Feeling like you and your needs aren’t a priority if the company has investors to answer to
This isn’t because insurance agencies don’t care about the people behind the product, though. It’s can be easily to overlook the research that needs to be done into a company. Sometimes the only person you come into contact with during the sales process is the sales representative.
How to Research Beyond the Product
So, what can you do if you can’t get to know everyone on the company’s team the way you have with their sales rep?
Honestly, you can find most of what you’re looking for with a little extra online research.
There’s a lot to research, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or take a bunch of time. You just need the right tools.
We created a PDF download: Beyond the Product Vendor Research Tool.
Use this to dive deep into a software vendor’s history, employees, social media, and more. You can do this before or after the demo on the product itself.
Feeling over prepared to make a decision about a software purchase is always better than under prepared and nervous. Use the resources available to you to ensure the product and the people are the right fit.
We also compiled a list of the resources we have available to help you really vet the software vendors you’re thinking of doing business with in this blog: Preparing For Technology Partnerships—Know Who and What's Behind The Curtain.
[PDF Download] Beyond the Product Vendor Research Tool
Use this tool to learn what you should be researching about any software vendor you're thinking of doing business with. We've provided note pages, as well, to guide you through the process.