How to Squeeze the Most Value from Your Software Provider

How to Squeeze the Most Value from Your Software Provider

Have you ever experienced a relationship go a bit cold?

Do you ever feel like there's more value to be had from your software provider?

In the evolving world of software as a

service, it's never been more important to

keep your finger on the pulse, and ensure

you're not only staying up with the latest developments in whatever solution you're using, but leveraging the relationship with your provider for maximum effect.

In the evolving world of software as a

service, it's never been more important to

keep your finger on the pulse, and ensure

you're not only staying up with the latest developments in whatever solution you're using, but leveraging the relationship with your provider for maximum effect.

In this article, we're going to look at this from two perspectives, and give you some actionable takeaways.

a. The type of relationship you might have if you're procuring your software direct from the author, e.g Xero, Microsoft 365, HubSpot etc

b. The type of relationship you might have if you're procuring your software from a re-seller, e.g Sage, SAP or Microsoft Partner

Both of the above may have involved some sort of sales process, where you developed a relationship with a salesperson before signing up. You might have then been allocated an account manager, or just left to your own devices. You might have also been introduced to the support team, or just left to raise a ticket when necessary.

If you were allocated an account manager, great, we'll look at leveraging this relationship in a bit, if not, no worries, there's still plenty that you can do without one..

We'll focus on 3 key areas:

1. Public Resources & Communities

2. Support Helpdesks

3. Account Managers

Let's get going…

1. Public Resources & Communities

There tends to be a tonne of easily accessible information in the marketplace, you just need to know where to look.

Some software providers are pretty good at pointing you in the right direction, with others, you sometimes need to know where to look.

The below applies to both perspectives, i.e applies equally to directly procured and partner procured software.

The first useful resource tends to be software release notes. These enable you to stay up to speed with up and coming capability, or changes to your software system that might add value to your business. Just Google - [Your Software Solution] + [Release Notes]

I've included some of the mainstream ones below for you:

The second useful resource is community groups, whereby you can keep up to speed with the way that your peers from different companies are using your solution. Just Google - [Your Software Solution] + [Community]

Some more examples below:

Within these communities, you're likely to get more resources than with the information you can find that's publicly available. It's also now commonplace to have 'product ideas' that allow you to upvote the capability you'd like in future releases as well.

Make sure to bookmark any links you find for quick reference later.

Keep up to date with your releases

Immerse yourself in your community

2. Support Helpdesks

Whether you’re procuring direct from the software author, or via a re-seller it’s likely you’ll have access to a support help desk.

You can uncover some real hidden gems when chatting to support

Here’s a couple of tricks.

Ask to speak to second line / third line / senior support staff

When you look at the makeup of a software support team, there’s different levels of expertise, from junior or graduate support analysts all the way up to senior support consultants.

Speaking to someone higher up the chain can be gold dust, as you can leverage their experience.

This can be the difference between getting something resolved in minutes and waiting for days for someone to come back to you.

Most organisations are pretty good when it comes to determining the urgency of a particular request, but there can sometimes be delays, especially if you’re partnered with a busy organisation.

It can be as easy as asking the question “Can I escalate this to the more senior support team?”

Also, save the e-mails you get from your support team. You might have had a response from someone senior in the past that you didn’t flag at the time. Next time around, you can go to them direct.

Plus, if you’ve got an e-mail format, you can use LinkedIn to search their company to find names as well.

I remember when I was working in the Microsoft channel, and the partner network was trying to launch a new product. Everyone was relying heavily on support, but the delays were huge.

As soon as I’d had a response from someone with ‘senior’ listed in their e-mail signature, I saved it, and approached them direct whenever a subsequent issue came up. The amount of time this saved me was unbelievable.

[Bonus Tip - Some people are slow responding to e-mails, but may be quick to respond to a Teams message. Search their e-mail in Teams and, depending on whether your Teams setup allow communication with external contacts, you might be able to drop straight into their DMs. Again, this helped me massively when communicating with the Microsoft Team in particular]

It’s worth noting, however, that you want to pick your battles as if you bombard senior support too much, they’ll probably end up pushing you back down the line if your requests aren’t ‘worthy’ enough…

Ask for an honest opinion

This is one of my favourites. Especially when you compare support to salespeople. I am making some sweeping generalisations here, so do bear in mind everyone’s different.

  • Support = Objective, work in facts, methodical. They use language like ‘this is possible’, ‘this is not possible’, can/can’t etc…
  • Sales = Can be fluffy, work in feelings, want to please, driven by commission. They use language like ‘I’m sure we could get it to do that’, and ‘I think so’…

What can we learn from the above?

Support are more likely to give you a straight answer than sales. Sales may be looking to sell you something else (as it’s part of their role) as opposed to support, who do not work on commission.

This gives you the opportunity when you do speak with support to ask a few questions:

  • “Do you think we’re on the right plan for our needs?”

  • Sales - Absolutely, and you might also want to start having a think about ‘xyz’ in the coming months as I think it’ll really benefit you
  • Support - It depends. I can see from your usage you’ve only got one person using the ‘xyz’ function. That’s the only reason why you’re on the premium plan

  • “Do you think we’re using the system in the right way?”

  • Sales - I can’t see that you’re doing anything different to our other customers. Although if you did want some more one to one training, I can give you a quote.
  • Support - There’s nothing wrong with the way that you’ve got things setup. The only thing to be mindful of, is the setting you have switched off here, may make xyz more complicated if you want to use feature 123 in the future. Want me to switch it on now?

The above works better if you are speaking to someone senior, as they’re more likely to be able to give answers off the top of their head, without having to speak to other members of the team.

Find a senior contact

Ask the right questions

Account Managers

Finally, let’s look at account managers.

This is likely where you’ll see the widest variance in skillset and expertise.

It’s also not uncommon for companies to have a large turnover of account managers.

Account managers in the most part are people pleasers. So if they get landed with a few tricky customers that they’re unable to make progress with, they might move on.

You may have even fallen foul of an account manager leaving without the company letting you know who you’re now being looked after by.

I definitely have…

It’s also worth noting, that the amount of time and attention you’re likely to get from an account manager will probably increase the more money you spend with that organisation.

Organisations loosely categorise their customers into As, Bs and Cs. Sometimes more if they have lots of customers. As have the most potential to spend money, Cs the least.

If you fall within the C category as a smaller organisation that’s not chucking cash at their solution left right and centre, you may get less attention, but that’s not to say that an account management team won’t be useful to you.

You might also see different approaches, depending on whether you’re procuring your solution direct from the software author or not.

What am I talking about here?

Industry expertise…

The reason why some software authors sell through a partner base is that the partner may have more real-world experience in implementing that solution within a particular industry.

So, if you’re procuring from a re-seller, they may have industry-specific expertise, which may also equate to your account manager having expertise in your industry as well.

Not always the case, but a fair assumption nonetheless.

If you’re procuring your software direct from the author, it may be less obvious what expertise your team have, unless the software author also focuses on a specific set of industries.

Again, is your friend here. Find your account manager, and look at their work experience to determine where they’ve come from.

What do you do if your find your representative is inexperienced? Find someone who is.

You may be able to find whoever heads up the account management team and speak to them.

Sales & Marketing Directors are also good to speak with, if only infrequently, as they’re likely to get feedback from the entire team.

Here are a few questions you’re going to want to ask, assuming you find someone with experience.

  • “How are similar companies in our industry using these tools?”

If your account manager is worth their salt, the likelihood is there will be made up of customer conversations, good and bad.

Either way, they should have some stories to tell and be able to point you towards recent successes.

As soon as you know what similar companies are doing, this enables you to think about how you might leverage these tools to achieve similar results.

  • “Is there anything we’re not using that may help us?”

Gauge the response here, if they fire into a blatant sales pitch then tread carefully. Whereas, if they start talking about objectives, outcomes and what you want to achieve, you know you’re on to a winner.

Systems change all the time. Whether it’s a newly released module or some sort of third-party add-on you need to be aware of the ways that it could benefit you.

  • “What changes are you seeing in the market?”

Not everyone keeps on top of this sort of stuff, so be prepared for a wide variety of responses.

Hopefully, you won’t get a ‘rabbit in the headlights' kind of look in response.

This question might not directly impact your use of systems, but might be useful nonetheless.

If you get responses like this - beware - ‘We’re seeing other companies upgrade to our ‘premium’ service because of xyz.’ or ‘We’re seeing more and more businesses move into the cloud (duh)’

If you get responses like this - better - ‘We’re seeing more companies move to paperless procurement’ or ‘We’re seeing more finance teams automate the operational stuff so that their team can focus on FP&A’ or ‘With mounting supply chain costs, we’re seeing more companies focus on tacking landed costs in calculating their true margins’.

Find your account manager

Determine their level of expertise

As the right questions


So there we are, a few ways to squeeze every drop of juice out of your software provider.

Get in Touch

Wanting some one-to-one guidance on how to leverage technology to support your ambitions, or just want help demystifying the complex world of software and systems?

There are 3 Ways to Contact Me

a. Send me an e-mail at

b. Use the contact form on my homepage

c. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and send me a message


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©2022 by Adam Shilton. Privacy Policy - Terms of Use

©2022 by Adam Shilton. Privacy Policy - Terms of Use