What to do when your prospect doesn't want to switch software?

by Steli Efti

When you're trying to get a prospect to drop their existing software vendor, and switch to your software instead, you'll almost always encounter resistance. How do you manage—and overcome—that resistance to switching software?

I'm going to assume that the software you're offering them actually serves their needs a lot better than the software they are currently using. So switching actually is in their best interest.

The cost of switching software 

Understand that the cost of switching is high—it's not just about how much their current software + service costs vs. your offer, but also training, adopting new processes in the organization, and many other unquantifiable factors.

How do you get an organization to switch software?

You're going to need two things to get an organization to switch:

  1. Patience
  2. Follow-up

That's doesn't sound exciting, cool, hip or new ... but it works. And that's all you should care about. 

The #1 reason why organizatons don't switch software 

Patience and follow-up will help you overcome the most common obstacle to getting them to switch software: bad timing.

Look at things from their perspective, and you'll understand why bad timing can make a deal almost impossible: They might just have gone through a 3-month long process of talking with different vendors, evaluating all the products in your market, the people involved in making the decision went through all these meetings, championed that software throughout the organization, got sign off on the budget, oversaw implementation ... and then YOU call to pitch your software. 

doesntwanttoswitchsoftware

There's no way they're going to switch to your product at that point, even if your product is 10 times better. The cost of switching to your software is currently higher than the value they'd gain from adopting your (better) software.

Be in it for the long haul

So you need to acknowledge that this isn't the right time, and adopt a long-term approach. The time it takes to close this deal isn't measured in weeks, but in months. Think 6 to 18 months to get them to switch software.

That shouldn't bother you—that should excite you. You're building a pipeline of great, high-value leads that you can close next year. This is an opportunity to build a relationship with them and get to know them better and learn about their sales process.

Systematize your follow-up

Follow up with your prospect every month or every quarter via email or with a quick call. Stay on top of their mind (in a positive way). Just by following up consistently, you build a certain level of trust. 

If you're managing more than 100 leads, you'll need some kind of sales pipeline management software to stay organized.

Be ready when the day comes

When their current contract runs out, or there's another change in the organization where the barriers to switching software are lowered, they'll remember you. And they have just spoken with you a few weeks ago. You already have a relationship with them and they know you. You've invested months to position yourself favorably—it's time for the right hook.

How to decide if a prospect is worth investing that much time in?

Of course you don't want to waste a lot of time on prospects who will never close. Being perpetually stuck in "I'm working on my pipeline" land is the sign of lousy salespeople. 

Here's what to go by: Are the prospect's problems a good fit for your product? If their wants and needs match what your software really excels at, then keep following up with them even if the likelihood of them buying is currently very low.

The other question to ask is how much is this customer worth to your business? If it's not in the thousands of dollars, it will be hard to justify that much follow-up from an economical point of view.

On the other hand, if a prospect is showing some buying signals, but isn't really a good fit for your product (even though they're interested in buying) ... then they're probably not worth following up with all that time.

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