I love going car shopping with my wife. It is so entertaining to watch her completely confound one car salesperson after another with her simple approach to selecting the vehicle that she wants.
To my wife, a car is a piece of metal, on four wheels, that gets you from point A to point B. This, of course, is sacrilege to all car lovers and completely baffling to most car salespeople.
So, a few months ago, we were in a Mazda dealership, looking at SUV’s, and an eager salesperson pounced on us and immediately directed his questioning to me. I politely directed him to my wife, since she was the one buying the vehicle, and the fun began.
“I want a vehicle with four wheels that gets me from point A to point B and is good on gas,” she said.
“Well, madam, all our vehicles have four wheels. What features are you looking for and what is your price range?”, he responded.
Wrong answer. It was my wife’s turn to pounce now.
“I told you, I want a vehicle that’s good on gas and why are you asking me how much I want to spend before you have even shown me anything? I want to spend as little as possible. What kind of a salesperson are you?” She retorted.
The sales guy was stunned. He started to turn red and was completely lost for words. He finally blurted out, “Excuse me a moment,” and went scurrying off and returned a minute later with another sales person who he said was better able to handle my wife’s request.
The new sales guy took a different approach. He asked her what she was currently driving and, when she said an SUV, immediately started to show her their newest SUV’s. He attempted to show her all the new features and functions like the keyless ignition which did not work. When she asked him about the gas consumption, he proudly told her 18 miles per gallon on the highway and 15 in town. She then turned to me and said:
“They’re not listening to me, are they?”
I had to agree, so we left and headed off to a Honda dealership where the sales person not only listened, but understood what my wife wanted, and a few hours later she was the proud owner of a Honda Fit that boasted an impressive 38 miles per gallon.
Many companies have expressed to me that their Business Intelligence software purchases have a lot of similarities to buying a car. They express frustration that the BI sales person tries to sell them more than they need and does not listen to them or properly understand the issue they are trying to address.
Today, the majority of businesses are trying to get the best mileage possible out of their business intelligence software. That means the key functionality at the best possible price. And that price does not just mean the software; it also includes the services, education and on-going maintenance. The extra bells and whistles might look impressive in a demonstration (when they work), but most corporations are just looking for “four wheels that get them from point A to point B!”
I attended a demonstration, by a BI software vendor, recently to a large transportation company who owned some old BI software from another vendor that they had not been able to put to a lot of use. The demonstration was very impressive with dashboards and complex reports with drill down functionality. After nearly 3 hours of presentations and demonstrations of a truck load of features and functions, the analysts and managers in the room filled out their evaluations and handed them to the CIO. Later the CIO told me that they would be selecting another vendor who had shown a lot less in terms of functionality and was about 25% of the price. Most of the evaluations had said that the software from the first vendor that pitched for 3 hours looked too complex to use and had too many features and all they wanted to do was basic ad-hoc reporting and query analysis.
Companies just want that basic BI software that will give them the best mileage for the best price. I think that more BI software vendors are finally waking up to this reality and have started selling smaller packages that offer a lot more “bang for the buck”. The initial results of this are that although companies are spending less on BI software than they were a few years ago, there are more of them buying.
As we see $4 a gallon at the gas pump, we are all thinking about vehicles that give better mileage, along with trying to make sure our car trips are cost justifiable. In today’s tight business economy, companies are also looking to do the same with their BI software.
My wife is available, for a reasonable fee, to apply her vehicle purchasing talents to assist you in your next BI software purchase!