From XU Magazine, 
Issue 34

Expect more from your software

You should justifiably expect more, and vendors are right to respond smartly.

Innovative software vendors understand that customer expectations have changed and will look to build more meaningful relationships.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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We all expect a lot from technology. We’re often welded to our devices, immersed in them. Think iPhones and their wealth of apps; the power of Xero and its easy-on-the-eye visuals; B2B platforms like Hubspot, which is lovely to use and consumer tools like Grammarly, which is a user’s delight.

As we all use technology more and more, our expectations have been shaped by and are helping shape the software around us.

Suppose you’ve recently explored the market for new cloud finance software. If so, you’ve likely become aware of a new interplay between vendors and consumers, shifting the market with the more innovative software vendors rightly responding.

This article includes a summary of what you, as a consumer, can expect from today’s software vendors. These include a user experience you enjoy elsewhere, added value being realised early on, a more meaningful relationship with your vendor, and pricing that’s easier on the pocket. Let’s look at each of these and delve into the benefits for you.

A user experience you enjoy elsewhere

Away from finance, Grammarly is an exciting example. It smartly simplifies a minefield of a subject that makes most of us wince: grammar. As you write, Grammarly responds, and you interact via an easy-on-the-eye and intuitive interface. It’s easy to set up, implement and scale across your writing platforms from email to Word – an example of what we call ‘self-service’ in the software market.

So, if you’re exploring new cloud finance software, can you realistically expect a Grammarly-like experience?

With a platform like Joiin, you can. Our consolidated reporting platform is designed to be self-service. Despite consolidations being a hugely complex task, the nuts and bolts of Joiin crunch your data to create great-looking consolidated group reports. Much like Grammarly makes grammar effortless, so Joiin makes consolidated reporting simpler.

But don’t let phrases like ‘effortless’ and ‘simpler’ fool you that today’s software platforms are in any way ‘basic’. Behind these powerful platforms, developers often adopt evangelical zeal to ensure the software remains easy to use. The mantra is ‘simpler, simpler, simpler’ (for you, the user).

Added value realised early on

Driving positive team adoption of a new software system can be demanding, so ease of use is essential. Otherwise, day one or even month one of your transition becomes stressful and challenging, with value only realised after considerable time and effort have been committed.

This is where the mantra of ‘simpler, simpler, simpler’ wins out. Today’s software vendors prioritise ease of use as this makes adoption quicker and saves you time. Coupling ease of use with free trials and freemium/premium models, backed by on-demand demos and video tutorials means new customers can jump on board with minimum effort.

With Joiin, our free trial enables you to test our platform to see if it meets your needs before subscribing to a paid plan. You also get in-app and in-person support with a wealth of on-demand onboarding videos and content designed to be used at your convenience.

A more meaningful relationship with your vendor

Today’s software vendors constantly work to improve their products based on highly valued customer feedback and insights, which inevitably leads to an improved user experience overall. If you decide to utilise a software product in today’s market, you can justifiably expect to play your part in its development. And it is this interplay between software vendors and consumers that leads to more meaningful relationships happening in the market.

If we jump back to the writing assistant Grammarly, you know you’re using a product, but an intriguing thing also happens – you feel a part of it. You know it’s helping you to write better, but you’re also building a more meaningful relationship with the app and its developers through your feedback and suggestions, especially alongside the in- and out-of-app support that Grammarly provides.

At Joiin, we value customer feedback and have implemented 300+ platform updates based on our users’ suggestions. We also appreciate that our relationships with customers benefit them and our product. Our mutual gain is a better product.

Pricing that’s easier on the pocket

When a software vendor and its customers have focused on the mutual goal of a simpler, easy-to-use product that incorporates user feedback and suggestions, the vendor can offer a lower-priced product.

The product’s features, performance, stickiness and virality do much of the selling.

In tandem, today’s vendors realise they can strip away traditionally accepted complex layers of pre-sales, sales, and onboarding. Of course, these multiple sales layers must be paid for, and a more traditional approach would see them covered by a higher product price.

Thinking more innovatively, today’s vendors have realised they can do without these complex layers and therefore offer much lower pricing, making a purchasing decision far more accessible. And because the primary focus is on the product being easy to use and intuitive anyway, vendors have found they can operate successfully with much smaller sales, onboarding and success teams (with fewer overheads to cover in the price).

If we switch back to the above point about more meaningful relationships, many of today’s software vendors also reject the idea of schmoozing customers to funnel them along a sales process to close the deal, instead focusing on a relationship of mutual benefit: making the product as good as it can be.

Product-led growth

Of course, we’re talking about product-led growth (PLG) – a phrase gaining prominence that you’ve likely come across in the software market.

So, what is product-led growth? It is a business strategy that places a software vendor’s product at the centre of initial contact to successful uptake and use. The product’s features, performance, stickiness and virality do much of the selling. Because it is product-led, the strategy incorporates freemium to premium models, free trials, customer feedback and product development involvement.

You don’t have to look too far back to see the beginnings of product-led growth. In 2009, Salesforce led the way with its Service Cloud product; since then, many other software-as-a-service (SaaS) products have entered the market. And since 2009, the increasing capabilities of pocket-sized mobile devices have delivered richer digital experiences for consumers.

According to the PLG collective, “tech-savvy users are now demanding software that is more beautiful, intuitive, powerful, and affordable than the tools they used before.”

The latest stats show that product-led growth uptake is rising. 58% of companies have already started doing it, according to Gainsight’s recently published Product-led Growth Index Report, with 47% planning to double their investment.

Is Joiin a product-led growth company?

Yes, we’re very open about our PLG strategy and why it is important to us. From our free trial and focus on continuous customer feedback to how we let our product do the talking, being product led is our ethos.

For us at Joiin, it’s about our entire company coming together to create a product that people want to buy in the first place and stick with.

With 32,000 entities across 103 countries relying on us, we’re dedicated to ensuring our product is easy to use, continuously improving and typically lower in price than our sales-led competitors. We’re incredibly proud of our 100+ 5-star customer reviews on the Xero App Marketplace.

If you’re exploring finance software, ask if your money is being spent filling the sales funnel behind you. And the next time you speak to a salesperson, ask who is eventually paying for this conversation.

Why leave it there?

To explore Joiin and sign up for a free trial

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