When looking at software businesses, you should start by asking yourself a few questions, the first of which is what your requirements are. Make a list of what you need. Consider whether or not you want to go international. Perhaps not at first, but later—you don’t want to choose a software provider now who won’t be able to satisfy your needs in the future. Existing partners or processors are the third factor to consider. What are some of your current business partners? What payment processors do you use as a business for payment getaways?
The following step is conversion or data imports. What are the imports that come in? You’ll have to pay for them. Regulatory limits are the last thing you should consider.
Consider the following question: What is my timetable? Find out when you’ll have a product ready before you start looking for an MLM software provider. Are your partners ready to go? Is there a team in place? Is it possible to accept credit cards? Is there a website? Is it up and operating and ready for the programme to connect to? What about the legal aspect? Have you got your documentation, particularly the policies and procedures, reviewed by an MLM attorney? If you already have a business, the conversion would be a challenge—what would be the timescale for that?
What is your financial plan? What are your financial constraints? Can some of the things you want be deferred to a phase 2 or phase 3 approach?
Check to determine if the software provider charges a flat amount or charges per unit. Another point to consider is the difference between hosted and on-premises solutions. A subscription approach, in which the software provider hosts a system for you, is increasingly popular these days. Unless you choose with a perpetual licence, in which case you take the software and install it on your own servers, it’s a lot less money.
Consider the difference between free and paid help—what is the support line? Then there’s model pricing vs one-size-fits-all pricing.
Make a list of software companies: Because software in this business is not cheap, I always recommend looking at at least two or three. Speak with industry experts and existing direct sales companies by calling them. You can occasionally use Google to conduct a search (a little more chancy than the other options). Consult with industry consultants or advisers who work with businesses.
Before you sign a deal with any software supplier, make sure you check out their references and specify your compensation plan—you don’t want to sign an agreement only to have your software provider come back to you asking for more money.
Be ready for a demonstration. Determine whether they are merely trying to close the sale or if the software is truly suitable for your needs. Demos should run 45 minutes to an hour, and if they last much longer, you may not want to go with that provider—your time is valuable.
After you’ve seen the demo, request a fake demo site or a sandbox to play with. You should be able to experiment with their software. Before signing, go over the terms of their service agreement.
Before making your decision, go through these processes, which I like to refer to as the “nine questions to ask before selecting software.” Inquire of a software provider: what are your flaws? What are your advantages? If they say they don’t see any flaws in themselves, that should raise a warning flag. Finally, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect software supplier off the shelf, and if you find one, please contact me. Like anything else in this profession, there are good, bad, and ugly, and it’s critical to understand that it isn’t flawless. Remember that the software is necessary because it keeps track of everything in your company.