Have you ever taken a car for a test drive? With the salesperson sitting next to you to ensure that you easily find all of the controls, hear the clarity of the sound system and feel the coolness of the air conditioning, he guides you down the smoothest roads, so you can marvel at the quietness of the ride. In reality though, most buyers don’t know what to look for when going for a test drive. A similar experience occurs when shopping for a software solution for your commercial real estate business.
Software salespeople love to tout all the benefits of their software solutions. They’ll tell you about how the solution is cloud based, convenient, accessible from anywhere and has everything you need to keep you working as your business grows— they’ll tell you “it’s scalable.” But, all-in-one solutions like this are an easy pitch because they promise to solve all of your problems with one package. If you listen to the hype, they’ll keep you connected to customers, enable business owners to manage leads, track projects, create documents and easily generate complex proposals in a snap. Can that really be the case?
Debunking some of the all-in-one myths
Workplace security company IDVille looked at the idea of single-point solutions for workforce management (WFM). While the company’s focus was on WFM, what they discovered can really be applied to any industry. They found that consistently, five myths were disseminated in support of all-in-one software:
Myth 1: Eliminate complex integration issues. A one-time problem that’s been mostly eliminated with the advent of cloud computing and best-of-breed software development.
Myth 2: Get more for your money. Organization buy-in time, upgrade costs and supplemental software can quickly make all-in-one more costly.
Myth 3: Reap the benefits of a seamless solution. Unless all of the applications were developed on the same platform, customers may still experience integration, administration and functionality issues.
Myth 4: Minimize Risk. Best-of-breed software can help compartmentalize maintenance and lower overall risk.
Myth 5: Single point of contact. While it’s nice to have one throat to choke if something goes wrong, your entire business is relying on a single solution from one vendor. Don’t put your eggs in one basket.
Tactical issues with all-in-one
There’s definitely an appeal to having a single software solution to solve all of your businesses’ needs but in actuality, what the salesperson pitched you and how that works in your office are probably not aligned.
One of the big selling points of all-in-one is ease-of-use. Remember though, the person selling and demonstrating the software is an expert that uses his product every single day. At the end of the day, it’s probably going to be you or one of your team members working inside this system, a multi-tasking activity that takes you away from your core purpose of driving thought leadership and closing new business. Unless you’re emerged in the software everyday, you’ll probably quickly forget how to use it.
Probably one of the biggest pushes for all-in-one software within the commercial real estate industry center around CRM. There’s great debates about which platform is best, but the best commercial real estate CRM platform is the one you use. Many of the do-it-all CRM systems will never be used because they are just too complex, hard to update or unfriendly to navigate.
If every building brochure should look the same, you wouldn’t invest the time, money or effort into graphic design or drone photography. To make your offerings stand out, you need to differentiate. Oftentimes, all-in-one software relies on automated, cookie-cutter style templates to output data, collateral or a polished-looking prospectus. Some things require a human touch and graphic design is definitely one of them.
Think past the demo in selecting a solution
As with any business decision, you need to carefully consider all of the options and find the solution that will fit your business best. Some all-in-one solutions do hold benefits, but the claims pushed by some vendors are too hard to swallow. If you’re considering a new solution for your business, be a bit wary and look past the test drive to see if the solution is realistic to utilize and easy to navigate. Also, take the time to consider whether a marketing virtual assistant might better suit your needs and provide the human touch your business requires.