Guest Column | April 3, 2019

Leveraging Online Pre-Buying To Reach More Customers

By Ryan Williams, Custom Business Solutions

Restaurant And Hospitality News

Today you are never more than three internet searches away from nearly anything you need in the world, including restaurant software. While this is a simplistic view, it’s not far off for the savvy buyer who combs the internet for information. Especially for the restaurant software space, online research has become the foundation of the pre-buying process, and this creates opportunities for sellers of restaurant software to leverage this practice for increased sales opportunities.

For restaurant operators there are dozens of software packages that can support both front of the house and back of the house needs. Just a few of the categories include point of sale, time and scheduling, customer relationship management, compliance reporting, inventory management, business intelligence.

Unless they are starting a new restaurant for the first time, there’s a good chance operators know what tools they need, and have used some, if not all, of those tools before. Many operators are looking to change or upgrade what they have and seek efficiency that is also cost-effective. The bottom line of what they need to know is how will these tools integrate into their overall tech portfolio to deliver the optimal.

The process of buying new tech tools generally has four steps:

  1. Ask for referrals.
  2. Online search.
  3. Review the reviews.
  4. Set up a demo.

For the seller and developer, referrals are an opportunity to leverage your word of mouth marketing where your satisfied customers can become your greatest assets. In addition to speaking directly with potential customers on your behalf, positive testimonials can be shared on your website, in sales materials and in your social channels including LinkedIn.

Case studies also help potential customers understand how your software benefits operators. Be sure case studies focus on the positive results the operator achieved using your technology. Encourage your satisfied customers to share reviews

Testimonials, case studies and even product stories in trade journals all combine to improve your digital footprint and search engine status. Of course, search engine optimization (SEO), which has become an industry of its own, is important to ensure the right news about your product comes up quickly in a search. Studies show the average person does not click beyond page 3 of search results. This is why SEO is critical to managing your reputation.

A critical element to optimizing your search engine results is an understanding the key words that bring people to you. Create a list of those key words and be sure they are incorporated into all of your online elements. Regularly evaluate those words and the search results they generate to keep your content relevant and effective.

Here are other elements that are important to managing your digital footprint:

  • Company or product website. Be sure the message about your product and its benefits is clear and concise. Make sure case studies and testimonials are easy to find too.
  • Social platforms. Business social platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are ideal ways to share your message online and add to the positive exposure for your product. Regularly share relevant content on your company page. This adds to your search engine ranking too.
  • Industry news. Round up or product articles in trade magazines can be very helpful for those looking at new technology.
  • Review sites. Review sites share lists of software and technology solutions, but they are not all the same. Understand the difference between creditable authoritative outlets and those that are paid. For example, Capterra provides several lists of software solutions and those companies pay to be listed on the site. Publications like PC Magazine and Hospitality Technology provide independent reviews that are very helpful, especially for quality providers who may lack the budgets of investor-backed tech developers.

After wading through the digital ecosystem, prospective customers will generally narrow their search to three to four solutions for the next step – setting up a demo. The goal of managing your digital reputation is to get to this point in the process. Once your sales team contacts the prospective customer, they can begin to build a personal relationship to close the sale.

As a tech provider, understanding the elements of the digital pre-buying process and taking the necessary steps to best position your product will yield more business and greater opportunity for your company.

About The Author

Ryan Williams is director of marketing for Custom Business Solutions.