“WOW! Free, and it does everything I need it to”…. Really?

Because of the nature of what I do, I keep a close eye on search volume for particular terms. Over the last several years I have seen a measurable uptick in the number of searches for “Free Software.” It is not only call center software, but software of many types. And, interestingly enough, advertisers and software companies say come hither, we have what you desire.

The purpose of this post, as with many of my posts, is to say get real. Remember the golden rule: you get what you pay for. Now, for what you did not expect me to say:

“Great Software that is focused on increasing the productivity

of your sales team should never cost you anything.”

In fact, getting an ROI from outbound call center software, telemarketing software or lead management software should be one of your primary goals as you make choices about vendors and platforms. The funny part of being a vendor in this space is the number of people that think software should be free or cheap. We get calls from people who tell us about their new call center, the great talent they have hired, the new super expensive phone system they have and are shocked when they find out that software to drive the entire sales effort may cost them $65 per month, per sales person.

For whatever reason, people seek free or cheap. I love cheap. I like free even better. However, I am smart enough to know great software that drives productivity comes with a price. The smart question to ask is not what it costs, but rather, what does it do for me? What is my ROI using this platform vs. that platform? If a free one really is available, what is missing that could cost me money? Does it dial, route the next record and record calls? Free often comes with a big hidden cost called “lost productivity.”

OK– a few paragraphs back I said, “Great software that is focused on increasing the productivity of your sales team should never cost you anything.” Sounds FREE to me, Ken. I hate the word, but great software should be, dare I say, “an investment.” In today’s marketplace there are tons of choices, from free to overpriced. The quest should be to not shop by price, but to choose based on what drives the productivity of your sales team and garners the best ROI. I promise, with the choices today, a sales team can get great software that adds about 56 cents per hour to the price of the salesperson. Just think about it this way. What increase does this sales person have to have to justify a 56 cent per hour cost increase? I can assure you, it is not much. Here is an example I always like to give:


A company has five sales people, costing them $10 (small number to keep the math easy)  per hour each. They do outbound prospecting, appointment setting and sales by phone. They manually dial and spend time sifting through leads.

They add new software that dials for them and routes the next best lead.  At the very least this will give them a 20% lift in productivity. More likely it will be closer to 40%, based on industry averages. But, to be conservative, let’s stick with 20% because I don’t think anyone will argue it is inflated.

A 20% lift in activities will give a 20% lift in results. That is like having one additional person for free. You can hire another one and expand, or do the same amount of sales with 4 people. So what did it cost? Your cost to fund this team with software is about $2.80 per hour for the entire team. We know you can add another person or get rid of one. That in and of itself is a value of $10 just on labor cost. Plus, you get all of the other wonderful things that good software brings to the table, which allows you to sell more, learn more and do more.

Don’t sell yourself short looking for free. I think there is probably some great free software out there. But, when it comes to driving the productivity of your sales organization, don’t cheap out. Do your homework, estimate the true ROI and make an investment. The return is almost instant.