Many software packages don’t require implementation, you simply sign up with a credit card and go. That is a great model because there are usually no long sales cycles, the customer receives value immediately, and revenue recognition starts on month-one.
Not all software works that way, especially when it comes to larger packages that are an industry-specific solution or something large like a financial system or ERP. When it comes to a system like that, there are a ton of things that can go wrong that will slow down the implementation, or in the worst situations, end up killing the sale after it’s been made.
This blog series is about how to get that kind of implementation right.
As a software vendor, it is important to lead customers through the implementation process because in all likelihood it’s something they have never done before, will likely never do again, and generally have no idea what to do. They don’t know what they don’t know, and if they get it wrong, they live with the consequences. They are relying on you to get them through this.
A couple more reasons getting implementation right matters:
1. Implementation sets the tone for the relationship. During the sales cycle, a customer expects to be sucked up to. Implementation is the first “real look” at how the relationship will be long term. Starting them off on the right foot will help small problem stay small and make everyone feel good about what is happening.
2. Implementation can be a competitive differentiator. Very few salespeople want to bring up anything about implementation during the sales cycle. It is usually something they are afraid to discuss because it is not always great, and they don’t want to scare the customer away. If your implementation is excellent, Sales can use it to raise doubts about the competitors and create success stories that will be hard to match.
3. Revenue recognition accelerates. The faster a customer can reasonably use the software, the quicker the revenue stream flows. If the sale is made and it sits in the implementation backlog too long, your CFO is going to come around and make a mean face.
The diagram below depicts the basic flow of a software implementation. Our blog series will outline the few things that need to be done ahead of time to figure out how the implementation happens, then we will move to what takes place during marketing, sales, and the transition from sales to the implementation team. After that, we will take a close look at the implementation steps, and finally we will look at what happens after go live.
Stay tuned – it’s going to get fun!
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