It is not a surprise to any of us that technology has deeply influenced every aspect of our lives: how we buy, what restaurants we go to, how we date, how we communicate, how we book and go on vacations, our social interactions and sharing, just to name a few. And for each of these, we are faced with multiple choices and we need to decide which one best suits our needs, mood, budget, taste, etc. Yes, decisions, decisions and more decisions. Researchers at Cornell University found that people make an average of 226.7 decisions about food alone.
So what do we do then? We google, we research, we read reviews, we ask in social media and our friends. To give an example, we all Yelp when we want to choose a restaurant, we read all reviews and ask our Facebook friends. The last thing you do is call the restaurant and ask how good their food is and whether or not they would recommend it. Same thing if you are booking a hotel, looking for a contractor or buying a new dishwasher. It is not as easy as it was before, but we are now more involved than ever in making our own decisions.
In business, it is not quite as obvious, but the trend is rapidly changing.
Buyers are very much in tune with the inherent bias of the vendor perspective. And knowing this, buyers often seek out the advice from sources that they trust, sources that are perceived to be without bias: application reviews, user groups, LinkedIn groups, trade publications, blogs and of course, colleagues and friends.
More specifically as it relates to legal technology, when looking to make a buying decision, legal technology professionals ask themselves “what do the people that I know and trust have to say about this solution?” They seek out these answers by reading reviews written online and in print and asking around. In fact, it is not uncommon for the subject of a case study to receive phone calls from colleagues and fellow professionals in the industry, asking follow-up questions and seeking out the “real deal” on the case study materials.
This represents a new era in business-to-business technology decision making and buying process: a more sophisticated buyer. And, hey, this is my own bias talking, but I happen to think that the legal technology industry is comprised of some of the most sophisticated buyers.
Traditionally, technology selections were made primarily through conversations between a vendor sales rep and the decision maker. In today’s market, thanks to technology and different outlets openly available, the buyer spends a significant amount of time self-educating on technology challenges and potential solutions. In fact, the vendor sales rep does not typically enter the conversation until the buyer is ready to move forward with making a buying decision. Recent research on this topic by Gartner suggests that buyers spend only 32% of their journey interacting with supplier-side content or sales people.
The Diminishing Role of the Vendor in Legal Technology Buying Decisions
The beautiful thing about the modern buying process is that the buyer is in a privileged position to not only drive the process, but to win it. It also has the potential to benefit the vendor as well.
Here are some key takeaways:
#1. Vendors that provide a superior technology solution that truly meets and exceeds the needs of the buyer are rewarded.
#2. Vendors must be open about their solutions more than ever before.
#3. Vendors need to offer superior service/support as well. A bad customer experience can be detrimental to any great product.
#4. Buyers are provided with several points of information to select the best possible solution for the firm.
#5. Do your homework and go beyond the vendor references. Vendors will always provide you with the best case studies and testimonials that they have available.
#6. When the buyer is educated, everyone wins.
What do you think? Whose opinions carry the most weight in the legal industry? Share your comments below.