In the transportation technology industry we have been trading bragging rights for years now. One provider does X better than Y and the other bought B & A but what really matters to fleets when making an investment into technology?
We spent the last year or so collecting information from our customers, prospects and even competitors and a few themes emerged. While the ability to solve complex business problems remains top of mind for the fleet operator, it is not always the deciding factor when evaluating one provider over the other. 3 out of 5 prospects we talked with said that relationships and references were deciding factors in why they were leaning our way or another way. 2 out of the 5 stated that most providers “all do the same things” and 4 out of 5 competitors listed “name dropping” and references as a leading sales tactic when soliciting new business.
These findings (amongst others) were telling and influenced us writing this blog post to our audiences with a few pointers and some advice when it comes to attributing weight to decision criteria. So here it goes…
Not All Features Are Created Equal:
Just because a provider can state that they provide electronic log books does not make them as competent as another provider that provides a comprehensive, integrated hours of service (HOS) solution that happens to include an electronic log book. As an example at Pedigree Technologies we support over 45 HOS exemptions which provide our clients with competitive advantage fueled by more operating hours because we can support various calculations for niche industry applications such as Oil & Gas or North of 60. What’s that you ask? Exactly our point!
Tech Over Talk:
We have sat through our fair share of painful sales presentations and it’s one thing to talk about features or functionality but it’s far more powerful to discuss business problems and how the tech will solve them vs listing off a series of cool functionality that may or may not be applicable to the audience. Our team must undergo rigorous industry training to qualify as a sales professional, in fact most of our sales team comes from the transportation industry vs the technology industry. This provides a knowledge base that you can’t teach, but rather have to live. The benefits of industry experience come out in spades when working on solutions.
Buying to Catch Up Is Not a Sign of Progress, It’s a Sign of Upcoming Integration Challenges:
We have all seen dozens of transactions in the telematics and fleet technology space over the last decade or so. It is incredibly predictable to identify the path of these consolidating entities over the first few years post combination. As an example: It does not make financial sense for these companies to maintain two technology stacks, so eventually one of them will sunset and many customers will be forced to migrate to either the other platform or a new one all together. Either way the misnomer surrounding buying from one of the consolidators is flawed and almost always results in a shift away from that provider within 3 years. The safest bet is to work with a real tech company that has a fully integrated solution since birth.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better:
Have you ever heard the term, “it takes a long time to turn this ship”? That is in relation to the effort and complexity that comes with larger less nimble organization. In fact there are many business books written about this very corporate challenge. Escape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore for one. A good read for innovators and those looking to buy from innovators. It is hard enough to produce leading edge technology and mission critical solutions without having to worry about how it will impact legacy platforms and deployments. You know who we are referring to here. ;)
So in summary it is important to evaluate not just the technology, not just the referenceable customers, not only the size of the organization and not only the people, but a combination of all of them. Think about it this way — as a fleet operator, how do you solicit new business and how do you want your target audience to measure your value? What are your competitive strengths? Now that you’ve answered that question — apply the same logic to your vendor and partner selections.
Let’s build something remarkable together — the unofficial member of your fleet operations team!