Should you build or buy multichannel sales software?

This is the era of the frictionless customer onboarding experience, and companies can no longer opt out. All organisations are going after more personalised, more consistent and bottleneck-free experiences across multichannel sales and onboarding. Those who don’t get ahead will inevitably fall behind and get their customers stuck in the sales pipeline.

When your goal is to keep shuffling people through your sales funnel, the question is not if you should adopt better technology for customer acquisition and onboarding, but how? If the software already exists as an off-the-shelf solution, you can buy it – but should you? If you have the resources in house to build it, you can do so – but what are the implications?  

We’re specialists in sales software for customer acquisition and customer onboarding, and we have first-hand insight into what it’s like to build, buy and customise software for this purpose. So here’s a brief overview of what we’ve learned. 


Build: control your buyer experience 

Building your own sales software has several distinct advantages: 

  • You don’t need to pay up front for new software 
  • Your organisation is in complete control of what you build 
  • You can build the software around very specific requirements 

The build approach leaves your organisation with all its cards in hand. Your in-house developers can build the software to an exact design based on your sales goals, and your organisation only needs to pay for the upkeep.  

So, if your organisation can spare the time and resources, can avoid the costs of purchase and get a platform that meets the needs of your entire team and customer base perfectly, why wouldn’t you? 

Well, the catch is that this perfect scenario can be difficult to attain.  

First, it is a rare thing for an IT project to stay in scope, on time and on budget without a few unexpected hidden costs. In a Harvard Business Review study of 1,481 IT change initiatives, the average cost overrun was 27% and one in six projects had a cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of nearly 70%.  

You can’t blame it all on project management though. It’s often just a hazard of the field. Software focused on customer experience is constantly evolving – and the goalposts are too. 

At PSI we’ve come across many companies that spent two and sometimes up to four years building the same type of software. By the time it is deployed, there’s a whole new market of modern buyers and the company has moved on, along with competitive standards, often making the technology no longer fit for purpose.  


Buy: Get sales software up and running fast 

Purchasing software has its own advantages: 

  • Get it in the hands of your sales teams quickly 
  • Reserve your in-house resources for your core work 
  • Make the most of time-sensitive opportunities 

When you choose to buy off-the-shelf sales software, you inevitably sacrifice some control and customisation. The software might not be ideally suited for your industry, and it may not perfectly suit your ideal customer journey for every channel. 

What you lose in perfect fit, you gain in speed. When the need is time-sensitive, it’s often best to choose a quick off-the-shelf buying process so you don’t miss your window of opportunity.  

You’re also purchasing peace of mind when it comes to compliance and watertight security. When you need to navigate GDPR or CCPA, or other data privacy regulations, it’s often worth buying software simply to avoid the risk of non-compliance with its associated fines and PR damage.  

If existing software out there meets 60% or more of your requirements, it’s likely worth buying, even if it’s not a perfect fit. You may not have complete influence over the product roadmap but many vendors will collaborate extensively with potential customers to build or improve their products. If the software is designed to be customisable, you’re also far more likely to find a good fit for your organisation. 

Typically building software from the ground up is best reserved for when the technology is at the core of your offering. For us at PSI, the beating heart of what we do is multichannel sales software, so it makes sense for us to devote as many in-house resources as possible to the task. But it also makes sense for us to purchase software that lies outside our core business.  

While it can seem like a cost-saving to have your in-house developers reimagine how you approach customer acquisition and customer onboarding – you sacrifice much in opportunity. Every moment your developers spend on looking for potential solutions to your sales software is a moment they are not working on developing your core business, whether that means creating digital products for 5G or key infrastructure for analysing your company data.  


Configure: Tailor existing software to your multichannel sales strategy 

A third option, which isn’t always considered, is to buy highly customisable software. This is effectively a middle ground between building and buying: 

  • Get a sophisticated system fit for multichannel sales in your industry 
  • Configure the software to your unique requirements, and apply branding  
  • Do more projects in less time, with the same resources 

Developers are used to finding a wide range of ways to stop reinventing the wheel. They’ll use open-source tools to build complex architecture or they’ll use “headless solutions” that provide backend functionality, so they can focus their expertise where it matters most. In other words, they source generic software from specialist vendors, and then use APIs to connect it with the unique elements of what they’re building in real-time.  

Similarly, with customer acquisition and onboarding you can find highly customisable software that can be configured to your organisation’s unique vision and set up. This means you don’t need to compromise on off-the-shelf software that’s not designed with your industry or organisation in mind. And you can also get set up in weeks not years – which is how long you’d need to wait if you tried to build the same software in-house – so you can fast track the entire customer journey to accelerate business growth. 

This customisation and speed is exactly what our Touchstone and Fusion products offer. “We’ve built features to enable us to build and change customer journeys without reinventing the wheel each time,” says David Costello, CEO of PSI Mobile. “This is the low code/no code scenario, and these products provide our customers with powerful tools to be able to do more complex projects in less time, with the same resources.” 

If you’re a business owner and want to learn more about how you can configure sales software to meet your sales goals, see our article on multichannel sales tech and how it fits together to give you a competitive advantage.