We have been helping a start up retail software company entering a market far removed from us. In this process we have been looking at core principles which have helped us get to our position today.
Here are the key principles in which our company was founded and which hold true today.
Have the right sales team. Good IT companies try and counter retailer ignorance by using technically skilled sales people who focus on genuine business outcomes for the retailer.
Technically skilled sales people can show how the POS software genuinely helps the retail business for the long term. They will also counsel against a business purchasing the software if it is not the right fit for the business.
A sales person who knows how to sell but does not truly understand the technology chases the sale without consequences. While this may deliver good revenue to the software business in the short term, sales will fall in the long term.
Make better software. Retail businesses have very specific needs. IT companies need to understand and serve these needs, needs which go beyond traditional cash register facilities.
Smart IT companies thoroughly learn the needs of retailers in their niche, they embrace opportunities to develop specialist facilities in their products. They look for ways to help their retail customers with enhancements long after the software has been sold to the customer.
An IT company which does not care about the long term relationship with their customers will usually sell old and out of date software, not offer regular updates and not seek to engage with all of their customers, seeking our enhancement requests.
Back your software with excellent support. Get to calls in a reasonable time. Make sure advice is professional. Have a peer review process in place to ensure that the help desk team keeps each other honest and focused. You are only as good as your last support call.
Educate. Good IT companies offer education about how to use their software, long after the software has been sold. This education could be in the form of group training opportunities, online training, training videos and the more traditional printed documentation.
Regularly enhancing the training opportunities can extend the connection between retailer and POS software vendor. This can lead to good word of mouth, driving further sales. It can also lead to upgrade business.
There is a feeling of a job well done within software companies when they hear of retailers making good use of the software and achieving an outcome which, without the software, might not have been achieved.
Poor software companies tend to offer less education. Once they have the sale they don’t see much value in spending money on their customers unless they expect to make considerably more money.
The relationship between POS software vendor and retailer needs to be long term and not just about the detail done today to purchase the software. It must be a mutually beneficial relationship, one which respects the needs of both businesses.
Smart software will do considerably more than any software user ever dreamed. The key to unlocking this is the professionalism and dedication of the software vendor. The approach of a retailer is as key to driving this outcome as is the commitment of the vendor.