"But don't you care about our cool ticketing feature?" - A property management software sales rep describing the hardship of selling to finance guys.
During the last three months, I have been aggressively sourcing new property management software for a client. I figured it would not be too much to ask for a solution that links with QuickBooks Online, allows tenants to make payments from their phones and work order requests on their phones, and enables our maintenance guys to enter their time in a defined field.
Unfortunately, there is no solution out there. Instead, many property management software companies try to tackle accounting independently, and the results involve tedious, frustrating work. Some companies realize that they cannot beat the Gold Standard of Accounting software, but they do not have the front-facing tech to give clients a competitive edge (this mainly due to the software company's size and resources).
Anyway, during my sourcing odyssey, I spoke with my sales reps, and I noticed a few patterns:
At least for the Property Management business, they target their pitch towards the property owners themselves and give a general overview of their solution. In most cases, that's a good strategy as business owners are big picture thinkers. However, as a finance person, I don't care about the solution's overall goal; I care about keeping my sanity while using the software for hours at a time; hence I got directly for the nitty-gritty portion of the software. Unfortunately, many sales reps are not adequately trained to provide technical questions, which hurts their credibility in my eyes.
Related to the previous point, it seems sales reps are trained to wow their audience with cool, revolutionary features that no-one else has. However, many financial professionals do not care about these features unless it will make their jobs easier. When I bypassed the feature piece with the sales reps, they were off-foot because their entire pitch centers around these features. By ignoring them, I changed the conversation into something that they are not prepared for.
It was appalling to hear so many reps who championed accounting solutions while not knowing the basics of accounting. For instance, one rep from a public traded firm did not know the difference between cash-basis & accrual-basis accounting (short answer: cash basis only records transactions on your bank statements, accrual basis records every financial document). Another rep thought that credit card activity belongs with your bank balance instead of a liability. And another did not understand accrual accounting.
Before signing up with an expensive software solution, please make sure a finance guy reviews it. People in my profession know who to cut through the marketing jargon that sales reps are trained to repeat and determine if the solution will add or subtract work from your schedule.
As for resolution for my client. We have him using QuickBooks Online because it can import and create transactions with the press of a button. We are keeping the current property management solution in place just for the front-facing piece. However, the current solution does not talk to QuickBooks Online. My current project is building a bridge between the two software.