How COVID 19 is affecting software buyer behaviour

Megan Meade

We spoke to our software advisors to learn how software buyers have adjusted their outlook during the COVID 19 pandemic. Our advisors speak with hundreds of software buyers each week so have a front-line view of how COVID has affected project scope and decision-making.

How has the number of software buyers changed? And, how has this impacted lead volume?

Lead volumes are up in some markets and down in others and obviously there are also some industries that are more or less affected.  Our top of funnel has started climbing back towards pre-COVID numbers slowly over the last couple of weeks now. Overall, lead volume has taken a dip and prospects have been more difficult to reach on the phone but it now feels like things are approaching normality again and both contact success and conversion seem to have increased.

Have software buyer’s attitudes to purchasing software changed?

Everyone is definitely more hesitant about making long term commitments right now, which is understandable. Obviously, some companies appear to be postponing software projects while the market is unstable. However, while many projects have been put on hold, there are some that have gained momentum because lockdown has given people a chance to put more time into project research.

I have had very few conversations with companies saying that they won't be buying software. It is almost always a case of when, and in many cases, they are doing that research now. Plus, demand has increased in some industries, and many businesses seem pushed into upgrading software to meet demand.

Are there any recurring themes during these conversations?

One of the most common things that comes up is the uncertainty around timeframes. Even in instances where businesses aim to move swiftly through selection, there tend to be concerns around delays with implementation due to things like a lack of available support.

What has been the main change for buyer’s situations?

Many companies and project managers tell me they have other priorities, especially those involved in organizing people working from home during lockdown. Some companies have needed more time to get to a point where they are able to operate at full capacity. There is obviously uncertainty around when their company will be able to get back to pre-COVID levels of business. 

The conditions for telephone outreach have changed. I’ve found quite often that the given contact number for someone will be their office number, but when I call I’m told they're not reachable because they're working from home.

How have selection timeframes changed? 

Timelines seem to be pushed back towards the second half of the year in a lot of cases although some specific industries (medical device manufacturing for example) and markets (EHR, HRMS) have gotten busier because of increased demand during the pandemic.

Obviously, some essential businesses have been driven to upgrading software quickly to meet demand, forcing quick selection timeframes. Other businesses are utilizing this time to research new software, however, these companies tend to have less clarity around timeframes due to the uncertainty of the coming months.

Have software budgets changed? 

I haven’t seen much change here. We typically engage buyers towards the start of their software selection, which means they usually don't have much idea about costs. More often than not, this tends to be part of the research that leads them to speak with us as pricing is one of the main things we get asked about.

How have buyer’s requirements changed?

Any software that allows remote collaboration or facilitates the exchange of information (e-signature capture, telehealth) is seeing an increase in demand. For example, I’ve spoken with several health and medical organizations that are researching software with better telemedicine capabilities as they will be working remotely in order to maintain social distancing during the lockdown period. I’ve spoken to a number of prospects who weren’t even considering updating their systems until the current situation severely impacted their ability to operate.

Which software markets have had the most change in demand?

Electronic Health Records (EHR) has had the largest increase in demand over the past quarter. In particular, I've noticed a lot of solo practitioners wanting telehealth for new practices, particularly in behavioral and mental health, for counseling sessions.

I think HR software was hit hardest, particularly towards the beginning of lockdown with prospects saying that redundancies and other difficult decisions were keeping HR professionals quite busy.

Based on your conversations with software buyers, what are your expectations for the future?

I think companies are using this time to do research and get ready for when business resumes its new normal. Anything that lets staff work and collaborate remotely will be in demand, and I expect many companies will start researching for better business solutions.

My prediction based on the last few months is that we'll now see a steady but gradual rise towards the end of lockdown, and hopefully a spike in the fall when things might be stabilizing. I think there'll be projects on hold which are now suddenly urgent. 

Thanks for taking the time to read our team’s thoughts on how software buyers have been coping with COVID, if you’d like to share your opinions on this topic, I’d love to hear from you. You can email any of your thoughts to me directly at: 

Megan Meade

Megan is the Content Editor over at Prospect Path. Outside of work, she's usually competing with her dogs.

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