Ep. 144 – Buying technology and software can be very tricky. This week, Chris opens up an honest conversation about buying software and even puts his personal experiences and thought processes on display for critique. He explains the 3 different areas of complexity when it comes to software and also shares a few eye opening perspective shifts that will change the way you look at investing in technology for the growth of your business. By the end of this discussion, we should all have a better understanding of and relationship with software as a collective.
You’re listening to the off systems go podcast, the show that teaches you everything you need to know to put your business on autopilot. Learn how to deploy automated marketing and sale systems in your business the right way with your host, the professor of automation himself and founder of automation bridge, Chris Davis.
Chris Davis 0:31
Welcome to another episode of The all systems go podcast where we invite startup founders and digital marketers to share software and strategies to scale your business. I’m your host, Chris L. Davis, the founder of automation bridge. And in this, this episode, I want to have an open and honest conversation about buying software. And by open, I mean, I just kind of want to put my experience some of my thought processes on display for critique, and maybe some understanding. And you know, maybe at the end of this thing, we’ll we’ll all come to some form of better relationship with software. But let me let me start out by saying this buying tech or software is tricky. I’ll never forget, I read an article many years ago, maybe a few years ago, and LeBron James basketball player but basketball star,
Chris Davis 1:38
talked about how he doesn’t pay for apps, he’ll run the free version of Spotify with ads. And you know, and this is the same guy that buys beats head headphones, for his entire team invests in many companies is evaluated right now as a billion dollar athlete yet doesn’t pay. Maybe that’s changed. But as of a few years ago, there was an article that said he doesn’t pay for apps, right? I look at people if that’s too lofty, like, Well, I’m not LeBron. But I look at people who will enroll in a course, they’ll they’ll enroll in 1000 523 $4,000 course,
Chris Davis 2:25
yet still have a hesitancy or avoidance of paying for maybe a $5.99 cent app for their phone or for their computer, right? Entrepreneurs will struggle to the utmost, trying to get the most out of free software.
Chris Davis 2:48
It just is what it is, for whatever reason, right? But those are the reasons I want to kind of explore on this podcast. And this is not this is not like a right or wrong, like oh my gosh, this is how you’re supposed to do it. I do feel like there is a healthy approach towards software. I do, I will admit and say that, but I’m also going to put myself on the operating table open up and let you all know how I got to this place. All right. So first and foremost, I want to go back to a previous episode that talked about how to hire software. Right. And, or hiring technology. Let’s let me just say this software and technology are going to be synonymous throughout this podcast. Alright, so if you hear me say software, I mean technology, if you hear me say technology is the same as same software. But when you when you hire technology, what I propose is that it should be similar to that of the process of hiring people. Right? And this is one of them, the paradigm shifts is that you really need to start approaching software purchasing, like you would hiring. And there’s three core elements to hiring one is I need a job description. Right? Two is I need an interview process to see if you fit that job description. And three is I need to make an offer. And in that offer, there is a wage so I need to pay you for said job description that I interviewed you with HR folks. I know I super simplified it. I understand there’s more considerations, more steps. It’s more complicated. I get it. But I’m trying to keep it nice and brief for the sake of clarity. All right. So if that’s what we do with people, what does that look like what software where well, a job description is literally you identifying the the requirements from the processes that you’re currently running in your business that are necessary to run the business. That’s your job description, SOPs, maps, process, visualizing processes and documenting them in any way your documentation becomes
Chris Davis 5:00
Your specification. Okay. Now, next is you you need to interview well, how do you interview software? Chris, you go to the website. That’s how you interview software. And you read through the help documentation, you look at case studies, you look at examples, right, maybe even sign up for free trial. Lastly, you engage with the support and our sales team with pre purchase questions. This is synonymous with interviewing people and how you would interview technology and or software. Lastly, wage, well, they’ve got it set for you. You there’s no software, that you can’t go to their website and see the pricing unless they’re just all enterprise and you have to request a quote. Right. But if doing that starts the interview process, and you end up with the same three steps. So I think it’s important to really start to make these connections instead of just going saying, Oh, it’s free. I’ll buy that out. Try that. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Okay. Because
Chris Davis 6:18
I can’t even say this without laughing. It’s not it is not compare. It’s not a comparison in any way. And okay, let me I think I need to build up before I build my confidence. So before I say it’s a bold statement, and you maybe you’ve heard it before, and I’m just over exaggerating, right? But let me just say this, when we talk about hiring software, and you and you run a check software, you run a checks and balance between, okay, I have a process and I can purchase software to help me do this process or execute the entire process. For me, that price is always cheaper than hiring a person. Always, there’s never a case where it’s not cheaper. human labor is always more expensive than technical execution. If software, right, human behavior is always more expensive. So why the struggle this just kind of seems like as I’m break, as I mentioned it to this point,
Chris Davis 7:19
this is a no brainer, but it but it is a brainer.
Chris Davis 7:23
Okay, there is some fat to it. And
Chris Davis 7:29
we let me just start with comfort, we’re more comfortable with people than we are with technology.
Chris Davis 7:37
Okay, we’re more comfortable with people than we are with technology. I was born interacting with a person, not a computer, not a phone. Now, there are children nowadays, who are you know, their parents are on phones while they’re breastfeeding and holding them and carrying them. So they get introduced to tech at a very early age, I feel like my daughter was introduced at tech at a at a younger age than my oldest son, and definitely my youngest son was introduced to tech at an earlier age than her. So yes, tech is being introduced is becoming more of the norm. But that still does not influence greatly buying decisions of software. And let me qualify this. I’m talking about software to use in your business. It applies everywhere, but just software to use in your business. Let’s confine it to that just so we don’t get all lofty and be like Well, wait a minute. What about software over here for my kids? I do that all the time? No, I’m talking about software to run your business for entrepreneurs scale. Okay. So we we are used to people and engaging with people to get what we want from people. We’re used to technology entertaining us. Right? You get apps to have fun. And now you can get utility apps that actually help you do stuff in life and plan and XYZ. And then you’ll start to see there’s a certain type of person that will invest in tech. They Hey, that app that tracks my workout, I’ll gladly pay $20 for that, right. Oh, this that helps me do that. You start to see as tech becomes more utility. All right. Okay, you can sway the average consumer, and hopefully definitely the business owner. But there’s always this hesitation. If tech is less than people all the time. It’s harder to hire people than it is tech for most. For most it’s harder to hire people.
Chris Davis 9:40
Some people are really good at that I finding talent, bringing them on and getting them in in place. I admire those people good help is hard to find and they just have an eye for most people though. You’re not going to find a good person to work in your business reliable all of that easily. Just is
Chris Davis 10:00
is what it is. So So where is the rub? What’s people cost more and are harder to find? Tech is easier to easier to pay for perhaps harder to implement. But you save so much money. Why are we having this conversation? Well, let me let me I said I was gonna put myself on operating table. Let me say this, I’m no stranger to investing in software, no stranger. Now, let me let me expose myself. All right. There was a day, many, many moons ago, everybody, many, many moons ago. Let me say this. I’ve been a proud Mac user for at least 10 years. Okay. And there were many moons ago before I was a Mac user where I was a PC user, and I may have been in college or not. And my life revolved around piracy. Okay, I would download all types of software applications for free. It was almost like a, like a adrenaline rush, like, oh, I can get Adobe Premiere, I can get Adobe that had the, I think I had the pirated version of the entire Adobe Suite, when I put it into the cloud, it really mess things up. I was like, Oh, my God, who is going to check,
Chris Davis 11:15
check for my credentials, right? This was the young, you know, hey, I’m not perfect. I’m not perfect. I have my days of private privacy. And that trained me unfortunately, to get free software, why pay for software, why pay for something that you can get for free? Okay, and that stuck with me until I purchased a Mac, when I purchased a Mac, there was all types of
Chris Davis 11:42
I did try to take my piracy ways into the Mac ecosystem. And I believe it was maybe ScreenFlow. I think ScreenFlow was the first purchase that I made. So prior to purchasing ScreenFlow, I needed to get the Adobe suite, and I didn’t know how to pirate it on the Mac. So I found out that my old college email address worked to get like the education version. So you see all of these workarounds in this, I probably did all kinds of other stuff. But you see all these workarounds that I had, as a young professional young person growing up young adult, trying to
Chris Davis 12:22
juke paying for software, right, which is wrong. I mean, this remember to this is before my SaaS experience, so I just don’t respect software like I should. I’m not a business owner, I’m trying to pinch every penny. And when I got a Mac,
Chris Davis 12:43
I got it for because I was doing art I was drawing. And there’s a lot of applications that ran better on a Mac, the ecosystem in general is just more flexible and more free flowing than Windows. And I tried to bring my piracy ways. And you know, I did it with Adobe products for so long. And then I realized, like, Man, I need a video, like a screen recording software, because I want to record myself drawing and XYZ. So long story short, that led me to purchase ScreenFlow was $99. And I remember the day, I was like, I just paid $99 for software.
Chris Davis 13:17
And I didn’t regret it. Paying for the software helped me do exactly what I needed to do. Fast forward. I’m doing web development as the end of my job nears, and I’m trying to, you know, enhance my workflow with web development. And it was my wife that pushed me and said, this is I’m dating myself, everyone. But this is back when studio works in Genesis Framework. And thesis framework were like the main two frameworks. There hadn’t been frameworks before it was just WordPress themes. And it was like the thesis or Genesis which one and I went all in with Studiopress Genesis paid $300 one time and got a life time of all of their themes in the Genesis Framework. Well, that was another heavy. So I go from 100 now met 300 I’m like, but it was one of the best investments because I was able to spin up websites at the time very fast and use a similar framework. XYZ. Right. So over time, I slowly started to buy more and more software. I remember buying Coda from panic. It’s a it’s a code editor that helped me write code faster when I’m using the Genesis Framework and XYZ. So you see that there was a slow progression for me. And when it was just like man, I’m I’m tired of trying to look for software, download these torrents and all these apps that the IRS ease and the what was I was all kinds of apps that I had, it just got too much honestly. So I started buying the software, and I was satisfied with it. I was satisfied with it. Now don’t get me wrong.
Chris Davis 14:57
Because of the freemium model. I still use software
Chris Davis 15:00
Were free as long as possible until I had to buy. I think that there’s a part of that that’s responsible. Truth be told, I’ll be honest, I think there’s a part of that that’s, that’s responsible. But then there becomes a part where it’s just like you’re, you’re in your own way. And this is where I will say, I recently got out my own way, one of my favorite tools, one of my favorite tools, those of my long term listeners, I’ve mentioned this tool. In many podcasts. If you’re in the community, we talk about this tool practically daily. Right, and we’re doing amazing things with it. And it’s airtable. airtable is, is one of my most favorite tools. It I think it’s my it has surpassed my CRM, like Active Campaign is my current CRM right now. I enjoy working in airtable. More than Active Campaign, who would have thought to see the day? Well, let me qualify, partly because most of my Active Campaign automations are really mature. And they run without much monitoring. So I don’t need to be an active campaign as much, I always have a need that tends to come up with a use case for air table, right. But let me say this, I’ve got maybe 50 databases in air table. And I found myself creating databases, moving bases, duplicating them. So I didn’t exceed my 1200 record limit and all of these things. And there was some sequence of events, who cares what it was that caused me to say, you know, what I’m going all in and I’m upgrading, I want the colors, I want the apps, I want everything. And I went to the pro version, which is like 20 bucks a month per user, something like that. And I paid $1,000, paid $1,000 for air table. And it was one of the best purchasing decisions of the year. For me. I didn’t realize how much I was limiting myself by not paying for the features that I really needed. And to be honest, that was the genesis of this podcast, that that’s why we’re here. Because I asked myself, Chris, why are you still struggling? Buying software, if you think about it, for the amount of users I had, I think it ended up being around 1600. Then I had a discount and all that. So let’s just say $1,000 a year, a year, this is for the entire year, which ends up being around 83 bucks or so a month.
Chris Davis 17:23
Now, we talked about hiring people, who can you hire for $83?
Chris Davis 17:29
That is going to work for you every day of the month? Who can you hire? Maybe you can hire somebody for three days out of the week, right? You’re not going to get that type of labor and that type of output for $83 a month. And then it became I’m thinking to myself, This is ridiculous. Even if I went and upgraded all of my apps right now, from from free to a paid version, the ones that I’m not paying for, there’s a good chance that those that software suite would still be around five to $6,000 a year.
Chris Davis 18:10
A year. Okay. That’s roughly what $500 A month
Chris Davis 18:18
I pay a va $500 a month to do various tasks. So if I can pay one person $500 A month, why do I not somehow in my head? Why would I not be willing to have a $500 a month
Chris Davis 18:36
budget allocated for software to aid in the same or greater capacity?
Chris Davis 18:43
And I get much more from software?
Chris Davis 18:46
What is that everyone? What what is this dynamic in our mind that just prevents us at times? Now this is not everybody. Some people have the opposite problem. They buy everything. Oh app Sumo, all day, wake up on App sumo looking around, oh, new tool. This got digital hoarders we talked about it, you don’t want to be that person. But for the most part, most business owners tend to fall on the do we need that? Okay, do I really need to upgrade, right? It’s warranted, you’re being financially responsible. But then on the other side, it’s kind of like but look at this VA that you’re paying like $1,000 to they’re not doing much. Right? You’re not even managing the people. But it’s easier. It’s easier to engage with people than it is technology. Right? So here are a couple of factors that I come up that I’ve come up with. Alright, just just wrote roll with me here. I think I’ve had a built up the confidence to say this.
Chris Davis 19:45
Free Software is synonymous. If we relate it to humans to free labor. I’ll put it like that. We know what free labor is. Okay.
Chris Davis 20:00
If and when humans are involved, free labor is wrong, to have somebody, sweat, blood, sweat and tears daily to produce a valuable outcome for you, and you not pay them, or give them any kind of compensation. Is is cruel at best. It’s cruel, it’s inhumane, right? It’s, it’s a shame is what it is. And the term the the dictionary term for that is slavery.
Chris Davis 20:37
Right? You are getting free labor, in not compensating that person for the output that you’re getting that you’re then monetizing slavery is wrong. But watch this. You put it over into software? And is also right. Right. It’s the freemium model. It’s like, give me free labor until I have to pay. And if anything, I feel like that’s at play more than any if there’s any factor. I feel like it’s that you just can’t go out to the store. You can. So bad, so bad. You just can’t go out and say, Hey, you, I want you to work for me for 10 hours a week. And depending on how you do with 10 hours, when you get to like 11 and 12, I’ll start paying you. That’s wrong. Who would do that? Maybe there’s people, maybe I’m the outlier. Maybe there’s people that have no problem doing that. They’re like, Hey, you come work for me, I’m not gonna pay you a dime until you exceed $20.20 hours this week. But I just who it would take some self control not to respond to somebody speaking to me like that in a way that may put myself in the justice system, I’ll put it like that, right? So that’s a big factor. I can go to software and say, hey, look, I want to use you for free, I’m not going to pay you a dime. And you’re going to do all these things for me. And if you do them, well, maybe just maybe I’ll pay for you. You can’t do that what a human. Right. So that’s off the table. So you already go into hiring a person, money on your mind. We don’t go into software with money on our mind. It just is what it is. Right? That’s one factor. And then the other one, I’ve mentioned it, and it’s the idea that people know people doesn’t, I don’t have to be a good manager or great leader. But I know people I’ve engaged with people before I know how to talk to them. Hopefully I know how to talk to people, right? There’s more books, there’s more guidance on hiring and dealing with people than there are on using technology.
Chris Davis 23:01
You can buy a computer right now, when I bought a Mac, I did not take a single course, not a single course. I just started using technology. You can’t hire somebody and just start using them, you’re going to need to have some management skills, you’re going to need to have people skills, you’re going to need to have some form of ability to deal with people. Well, technology is just like, hey, look, you bought me use me. And it takes discipline to go and read through the documentation, reach out, attend a webinar, whatever the case may be. That’s optional with technology, we could just start using it. You can’t just start with people. So there’s just a whole different mindset towards people and technology. And you’re you’re going to need both forever. We’re never going to be in a day and age where you’re not using both right? So the shift in perspective towards the right, tech increases will shift let me say like this, shifting this mindset towards tech is the only way to increase your efficiency. Increased efficiency leads to higher profit ability. Or let me say a higher probability to profitability. You want to be efficient. You can’t be efficient without technology. You can’t use technology if you’re to its max if you’re not willing to pay. Okay. Now, let me let me say this. There is an underlying theme in this all and that is the complexity of technology. It’s always there. It’s always there. Just like you hire HR to do all your your high Hearing for your for your people. You need to hire a tech professional to help you hire your software. Because there’s always going to be complexity. And here’s the here’s the three areas of complexity with software that I’ve realized when I’m looking at people who have said, Okay, Chris, I believe in I want to adopt technology. You’re either going to have complexity upfront, it’s hard to learn the tool up front, but once you learn it, you got it. These are like the sales forces. Infusionsoft earned this name back in the day and keep by Infusionsoft is really changing that, right. But these interpret more enterprise platforms. And some small business platforms, very hard learning curve upfront, some of you may be overwhelmed with tools like dubsado, and honey book, I know, honey book is what my wife uses. And sometimes even I scratch my head, like, why does it do that? Right. And complexity can be because the platform does so much. Or it’s because the platform just doesn’t make sense. It gives you a little bit and takes away a lot. And you’re just like, Ah, I just wish I could do more right? Either way. It’s complexity. So there’s complexity upfront that that means if this is a relationship with tech, you’re learning how to use it. Like how do we move? How do we do this thing? This one too, right? I step you step? How do I do that? It’s complex. But then once you figure it out, it gets easier. Now the flip side is other way is, it’s calm, it’s easy to get into. And then once you’ve got the basics, and you need to start doing more stuff, it gets more complex. And you’re like, dang, when I just needed to send an email, MailChimp was great. Now that I need to have goals and have more dynamic adding and removing from flows. I just can’t do it. I can’t do it here. Right. And then the third one is it’s complex all the way through it. There’s just certain tools that are just they take a level of acumen that you may not ever have. So what is the key? Because the days of one software, they’re gone? Long gone, you’re going to have multiple software, and you’re going to always have to integrate these tools. Always. Don’t you lie to yourself, oh, I just use book everything.com. And it handles it my booking my invoicing handles my email marketing, it’s my CRM, my text messaging, my coupons. It’s my live events this
Chris Davis 27:41
year, right? Yeah, right. And even if it did all that, you’re still going to need another tool that that does some additional features. And that does that comes from the fragmentation of technology right now. It’s fragment you’ve got, you have a tool that does every one little thing. And then you have tools that do a whole lot of things. It is what it is, don’t fight it, you just need to know how to integrate it. So if we’ve got complexity at the beginning complexity at the end, so may have complexity all the way through, what am I saying? What does it all boil down to? Well, here’s my advantage. My advantage is I know how to navigate a variety of complex tools. So therefore, I’m the best person in my business to hire technology for my business. That may not be the case for you. So what do you need to do besides shift your mind and start looking at it in some ways, similar to hiring a person, you also need to get in contact, you need to add someone to your team that can make the tech nology buying decisions for you. Bonus, if they can help you leverage and implement said technology. You have to have it. That’s where we’re at. This is the day and age that we are in. Okay, so two things need to happen. You need to shift your mind stop, stop looking at the monthly. Now there’s a whole psychology behind it. I have a whole nother story with a app that I was using that was free went to go purchase it it was 599 I thought it was too much did not see another app for 1999. And all of a sudden I’m willing to pay that there’s all kinds of psychology that goes into buying decisions. Okay, I’m not even touching that maybe we’ll have somebody that can speak to the psychology of buying and revisit this episode. Right? If that’s you, if you’re listening, you’re like I’d be a great guest. Reach out automation bridge.com Ford slash podcast, submit to be a guest. Right? But what you need to do is shift your mindset and say what can I get? What can this software do for me? Instead of how much is it going to cost me? If it’s going to shave off hours? Those shaved hours are getting you one step closer to how you feel To see one step closer to profitability, okay? That’s the first thing, shift your mindset $1,000 for software years, not a lot, about 83 or so dollars a month. That’s not a lot compared to if you hire somebody to do it, just stop it. You just don’t know how to use this was like, I don’t want to put money over there, I get it. This is why number two is you need to get somebody who is proficient in picking technology. We call it tech meeting for automation service providers and everyone in my community. We call it tech meeting. And it’s an entire module in my program that teaches you how to marry the right tech, with the strategy. Right? It’s got episodes on this, I’ve got tech, hiring technology and tech meeting that this is all in the podcast, I’ll link to the episodes below. Alright, but you need those two things. If you’re going to use technology, if you’re going to use software to your advantage. This is what I believe. I hope my experience though illegal, I guess piracy is illegal. So I do not mean let me say this, I do not support piracy in any way. Any omissions of the past participation in piracy may or may not be true. They could have been fabricated. For the sake of entertainment on his pocket. Let me just say that alright. But I hope this helps you understand the importance of buying software, buying the right software, and getting the most out of it. Okay, I can only say the reason I am where I am today is because I have intelligently invested in software, and will continue to do so. If anything. If I’m a little hesitant about buying it, I’ll look for how can how can this produce a return. And if the software can produce a return, I’m fine as long as it can pay for itself let business pay for itself. Okay, so hopefully this is helpful. Share this with your entire team. Everybody needs to be on the same page when it comes to software and start identifying who is the prominent person to be picking technology for this business. If not, of course, we’ve got resources out automation bridge got certified partners myself, but you need somebody that can help you pick it, and then somebody that can help you implement it. It’s required for success in business.
Chris Davis 32:38
Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The all systems go podcast. If you enjoyed it, make sure that you’re subscribed at the time of recording the all systems go podcast is free to subscribe to and it can be found in Apple podcast, Google podcasts, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts new episodes are released every Thursday. So make sure you’re subscribed so that you don’t miss out and while you’re at it, please leave us a five star rating and review to show some love but also to help future listeners more easily find the podcast so they can experience the value of goodness as well. We’ve compiled all resources mentioned on the podcast, as well as other resources that are extremely valuable and effective at helping you grow your marketing automation skills quickly and you can access them all at allsystemsgopodcast.com Thanks again for listening. And until next time, I see you online. Automate responsibly my friends
- [2:38] “Entrepreneurs will struggle to the utmost, trying to get the most out of free software.”
- [3:40] The similarities between hiring technology and hiring people
- [5:03] The process of “interviewing” software
- [12:22] Chris recalls his first time paying for software
- [15:25] What led Chris to self reflect on why he was still struggling with purchasing software
- [17:23] An eye opening perspective on paying for technology vs. people
- [23:01] How hiring people is actually more complicated and costly than hiring technology
- [25:13] The 3 areas of complexity with software
- [28:34] The importance of adding someone to your team for technology buying decisions
Want to Be a Guest On the Podcast?
We're currently accepting guests for the podcast that are SaaS owners, marketing automation consultants, and digital professionals that have produced high results with automation.
If that's you, or you'd like to recommend someone, click here to apply to be a guest.
About the Show
On the show, Chris reveals all of his automated marketing strategies he has learned from working in fast growing marketing technology startups so you can put your business on autopilot quickly and without error.
Discover how to deploy automated marketing, sales, and delivery systems to scale your business without working long hours to do so.
Chris L. Davis
Chris is an Electrical Engineer turned entrepreneur who is the Founder of Automation Bridge, an international speaker and facilitator, and startup consultant