Trust is a powerful thing. A quick online search finds the definition of trust as “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” When you are making a small, inexpensive purchase, trusting the seller is not as important. When I buy a pen for $2, I am not really worried about the consequences of it failing. It can be easily replaced.

On the other hand, buying enterprise software for your business carries a huge amount of risk. The investment is usually significant, and the consequences of failure can be enormous. Say you invested in a new system, but the moment it is implemented you discover the vendor lied about the functionality. Now you have exhausted your budget for a system that doesn’t solve your problem. You can’t give it back, so you are stuck.

You can do more research and find a new system, if you still have room in the budget. Of course, that assumes you can sell the idea to your finance team after just investing in a system that doesn’t work. You can limp along with the new system and run your business less effectively and hope somehow the new system eventually provides a way to add new functionality – but that leaves you exactly where you were when you started the entire process.

Either way, your initial investment is gone and you don’t have what you need. Finding a trustworthy software vendor upfront can save you that aggravation.

How do you find a trustworthy vendor?

Finding a trustworthy vendor is more than just listening to a sales rep and reading some brochures. If you dig a little deeper, you can find clues to the company’s true trustworthiness.

Do they show signs of success?

Are there customer logos on their website? Are there other companies using their software that you know and trust? Are they in your industry or in a business similar enough to yours that their experience is relevant to you? Vendors that are trustworthy have a growing customer base because they deliver what they promise and have happy customers.

Is their success growing?

Look for a history of success but focus on recent success more. You want to ensure the company’s best days were not 10 years ago. A company that highlights a lot of old business and very little new may not be securing new business, and you need to know why. Perhaps they are overselling their services and breaking promises.

Do they have customer validation?

Are there articles, press releases and case studies highlighting customer success? Customer validation demonstrates a willingness to publicly support the software and the vendor. If a company is willing to publicly state that the software is a success, they are putting their reputation on the line. You know they believe in the software.

Do they offer personal references?

Do not buy an expensive software solution without talking to at least one company you respect that uses it. Make sure you ask if the software delivers what the vendor says it will and ask for both positive and negative feedback. Listen carefully to see if there are any indications of false promises or overselling.

What do industry experts say about the company?

Are there analyst reports from legitimate, vendor-agnostic sources? Most legitimate analysts strive to be an unbiased source of information, so their reports can provide valuable insight.

Has the company won awards from sources you value and trust? There are a lot of awards out there, many that can be easily purchased. Examine the awards a company highlights and be sure you know the source and respect it. Make sure the awards are relevant to your business.

Are they still investing in product development?

It’s difficult to trust a company that no longer invests in developing its products. Technology is constantly changing. A good software company will continue to invest to ensure its software takes advantage of modern technology. If they don’t, you have to wonder what the are doing to ensure the product will be viable in five or ten years.

Trust is important, and it’s not enough to just put “most trusted vendor” on a website or brochure. Most companies say they can be trusted, but you need to be certain when your reputation, budget, and job are on the line. Take the time to do the research and dig a little deeper, and you will make smart software purchases with confidence.

Mary DeFilippe spends her days creating engaging content – blogs, white papers, articles, and more – that helps readers better understand new technology. She can frequently be found walking around the office listening to heavy metal music while pondering ideas for her next blog.