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So many “leaders.” Who do I follow?

I track nearly 40 different software companies that provide association management software of some form or another. And I chuckle every time I read one of their press releases, because they typically say the same thing: “Company X is the leading provider of…” or “Company Y is the leader in association management software…” One even claims to be “The global leader…”

Now it strikes me that there can only be one “leader” in any given category of, well, anything. And if every software vendor is claiming to be “the leader,” then I’m pretty sure all but one of them is lying.

What I find most amusing is that claiming to be the “leader” means very little. They are wasted words. What these companies should focus on is providing evidence of helping their clients actually accomplish their business objectives.

To be fair, some of the AMS providers I track do not make these “leader” claims, and some of them even demonstrate how they’re helping their clients. I just wish the rest would drop the “leader” claim, unless they can prove that leadership with objective data.

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2 Comments on "So many “leaders.” Who do I follow?"

Les Schlain - 5 May 2009 Reply

I am the President of a small AMS company. I see the word leader as a teflon coating. It helps the person choosing the product to fire-proof themselves. You don't get fired for choosing leaders. Our philosophy is to get to know the associations business processes, work flows and their future needs. If these match our products and services then we pursue the prospect. No surprises, everyone on same page. Hopefully happy ending for all. While we strive to be a leader someday, we feel that our approach will lead to this label because being able to deliver on an organization's strategic business goals now and in the future will eventually land us in that spot. These people put there job on the line when they choose an AMS. Not only that, they are making a decision that their staff will have to live with for years to come. That affects the culture of each and every day. We want to make sure that is the positive outcome. If it isn't, no one wins.

Adam Weedman - 7 May 2009 Reply

Wes, I always like reading your unbiased thoughts about association software. Everyone wants to be a leader in their space and many feel they can gain credibility from this statement. Some also rely on making false statements about their competitors, their products and/or their business. We try not to pay attention to any of our competitors at any high level because we know that if we listen to our association partners, and we deliver for them, they will take care of bringing us business...and they have. We have sold 12-20 new associations every month for 8 years, nearly all from doing the right thing and referrals. In my mind, we are just getting started. Whether we are a leader or not is for the association community and our clients to decide. Keep up the good work!

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

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National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

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Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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