There’s a wise idiom that says “look before you leap.” This simply means that one should think carefully about the possible results or consequences before doing something or taking action.
In the Direct Sales world, this very idiom could be re-phrased to speak to the selection of your software solution and could say “look before you launch.” This idiom redefined to fit our industry could mean a company should carefully consider the possible results and consequences that the software could potentially bring to either support or hinder your business, based on YOUR specific needs.
No one intentionally selects software to hinder the business. However, we’ve seen a number of direct selling start up companies under-evaluate or over-look the core functionality and on-going support-ability of the software which resulted in a less than optimal implementation experience. Most often this is due to not knowing what to look for or what questions to ask during the evaluation and selection process.
A Starting Point
To help provide a starting point in knowing what to look for, we’ve posted a check list of questions that could help your company determine the best software solution to meet your needs. A good rule of thumb is that the software needs to be able to support the goals and objectives of the business, not the other way around.
The following list of questions will assist your team to evaluate the software provider’s capabilities, knowledge, experience and support, as it may relate to meeting your business’s launch requirements and on-going IT needs.
- How did the company get started in developing software for direct selling companies?
- What types of implementations have been successfully deployed in national and international markets? (i.e. Single market, multiple markets, global)
- How international is the platform? Meaning, does it support multiple currencies, languages, gateways/merchant accounts, auto-ships profiles and compensation plans?
- How many “active” clients do they currently support?
- What is the system programmed in and how does it integrate to other technologies (i.e. fulfillment systems, 3PL’s, merchant processors, sales taxation automation, etc.)?
- How scalable is the platform to support fast growth?
- What countries has the software been deployed?
- Can the system properly support and manage over 1,000,000 distributors?
- Is technical support included in the monthly fees or are there separate support packages?
- Is there 24-hour support?
- How many transactions has the system proven to be capable of processing in a single day?
- How many users can simultaneously access the system?
- Is there a test system provided to run commission scenarios?
- Can the system rerun commissions in the live environment, if necessary?
- How long will it take the system to process and post commissions and Autoship orders, if it was required to process over 1,000,000 distributors?
- Are there API’s (Application Programming Interface) available so your team can do their own customization’s?
- Does the system allow control over content changes and additions to the personal websites?
- How experienced is the compensation plan expert on staff?
- What level of industry experience and expertise does the management team have?
- Do you have access to your data?
- What types of on-going services do they offer?
- What kind of support do they include….phone, email, ticket system?
Keep in mind that all direct selling software providers are NOT created equal. Taking the time to ask these types of questions will provide your team with a better LOOK at the capabilities of the software provider as it may relate to supporting your specific business rules and software needs as you work to select, implement and then launch your company.