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Stunningly Awful Software Evaluations—A Strategy of Foolish Hope?

by Peter Cohan  |  
January 9, 2007

It is almost the end of the quarter. Achieving your numbers depends on the outcome of an evaluation that has been running for the past three months. The end-user group has finally put in a few hours of use with your product and has gathered to vote: Go or No Go...

What will be the outcome?

Evaluations are the single most expensive component of a software sales process—and yet the number of evaluations executed every quarter that fail is surprisingly high. Or, perhaps it isn't surprising, given the number of ways that vendors can increase the likelihood of failure!

If your organization's evaluations are not as successful as you wish, consider using this list as an assessment tool. If these items sound too familiar, you might want to contemplate making some changes.

The stunningly awful software evaluations Top 8 list:

1. No critical business issues, no objectives: "Living in the Land of Hope"

Agree to a three-month evaluation without any understanding of your customers' critical business issues or objectives. This ensures that everyone is unclear as to why the evaluation is being run. Even better, the customer can explore your software as deeply or broadly as desired—without any direction or plan. Who knows what they might find interesting?

This is truly "Living in the Land of Hope"! More frighteningly, forecasts reflect that the customer has an eval underway and show an increased probability of closing. This hope-based strategy provides the opportunity to disappoint at least three times:

  • Customer disappointed with the software
  • Sales rep disappointed with an unsuccessful evaluation and no sale
  • VP of Sales disappointed with inaccurate and missed forecast

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Peter Cohan runs The Second Derivative out of Belmont, California. For more information, visit

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