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If you’ve ever purchased a car you know the process can be overwhelming. Scanning across the grand expanse of the dealership, the options seem endless. To evaluate your options, you might ask things such as, “What do I need to do with the vehicle? What would be the best option for me based on my price point? Which car has better gas mileage?”

Customers go through the same process when selecting software vendors. Which SaaS solution will provide the best ROI? What platform can we adopt that will bring the most value to our team? Selecting a monitoring solution is a big decision. It often requires input from multiple people within the organization–from those using the product every day to those who control budgets. To make it easier to decide, software vendors oftentimes provide free evaluations of their platforms.

Free trials are essentially like a test drive of a software product. They are useful in the buying process, but only if you ask the right questions and properly evaluate the features.

The key to finding the right solution is to get as much out of the trial as possible by running a streamlined and efficient evaluation. Here are four best practices to implement today.

1. Commit Your Time

Making an educated decision is going to take time. Identify at the outset who needs to be involved in the evaluation, what the timeline is for making a purchase decision, and any potential hurdles. Set aside time each week to check in with stakeholders, review any outstanding questions, and make sure you have clear steps going forward. This will help you make the most of your trial, and ensure you are set up for success once you decide on a specific vendor.

Be realistic about how much time a SaaS evaluation will take. This isn't a process you want to rush. Click To Tweet

2. Get all the Cooks in the Kitchen

In most organizations, there is a single owner for applications and/or software licenses but there are many people who use the product on a regular basis.

By gaining input from everyone who might have a say earlier in the evaluation process, you can better understand if the product will work for your team. Customers who get more teams involved early have an easier time quantifying the value and adopting the solution in their organization. This also allows for teams to better understand specific roles, such as power users and admins.

3. Define Success Criteria

You might have an idea of what success should look like when selecting a SaaS solution, but if your goal is to “improve ROI” you’re going to want to get a lot more specific.

Identifying precise success criteria is probably the most important and most often overlooked aspect of a trial. Going back to the car analogy, you likely wouldn’t step onto the lot without knowing that you want a car rather than a truck. Doing so would result in a cumbersome and frustrating shopping experience.

Similarly, you should start an evaluation with pre-determined success factors. This will help lead to certitude at the end of the evaluation and work to build consensus among decision makers.

For instance, you should define:

  • Ease of use – How much training will be needed at the outset? What time commitment is necessary for implementation?
  • Functionality – Does this product offer the features we need? Is there a clear need for this product? Does this product solve a specific problem?
  • Implementation and Professional Services – What is the budget for implementation or professional services?
  • Adoption and Enablement – What teams can benefit? Whose job will this tool make easier on a day-to-day basis?
  • Price and ROI – Is this solution cost-effective? How quickly will it pay for itself?

The impact of outlining your criteria for these questions is powerful. It enables you to more easily get to a decision by clarifying priorities, tracking the reason a purchase was made, and making a case for continued use.

Needs may change throughout the product lifecycle, but having clearly defined goals helps you track toward the right outcome and pivot if that outcome changes.

The secret to a successful #SaaS trial? Define what success actually looks like. Click To Tweet

4. Ask Questions

In trials, there is no such thing as a dumb question. The best evaluations are open conversations among customers and vendors. Vendors deem themselves as experts and most love to talk about their platform. Use your predetermined criteria and ask away! Stumped for a starting point? Here are some questions you might begin with:

  • What functionality have we not explored that similar use cases benefit from?
  • Which new features are on your product roadmap?
  • Are there ways this product can integrate into my workflow?

Conclusion

Evaluating software solutions can be stressful and confusing, much like buying a car. Leveraging these guidelines can help clarify your needs and lead to a successful purchase. It’s helpful to remember that the more you put in, the more you get out. Software evaluations are meant to highlight ways to alleviate bottlenecks and provide value, not to take up more time during your day.

If you are in the process of shopping for a digital experience monitoring product, we’d love the opportunity to show you how Rigor adds value, through the evaluation period and beyond!

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