Whether you are a software sales professional, or just selling software on the side, it is important to follow these critical guidelines for success. Keep reading to learn the six key tips for sales success. Also check out
this article about selling software online and this one for tips on selling software to businesses.
Software sales cycles are changing. With the existence of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), cloud computing, and open source options, in many cases this can shorten the overall decision process for the customer. If you’re still selling a traditional software license the “old fashioned” way, you may find that your customer has made a buying decision with someone else before you even have a quote together or the pilot finished!
In today’s competitive software marketplace, it is critical to focus on 6 key elements to keep your software sales growing:
Do you have the right business model and pricing structure? With the changes occurring in the software industry (SaaS, open source, outsourcing, mobile software, etc) it may be time to revisit the way your software product is positioned, priced and/or productized (the 3 P’s!). For example, moving to or adding services revenue or subscription licensing can drive increased software sales.
Check out our article on software business model planning. Also, if you have a multiple product strategy (eg, a traditional software license approach, and also a SaaS offering) then you need to be very careful to avoid channel conflicts in your pricing strategy, and make sure you are positioning the right product for your customer's needs, using this SaaS readiness checklist. If you need some additional input, then we offer an affordable sales & marketing strategy audit. Find out more details here.
What is your company's and your product's biggest strength (in the eyes of the customer, of course) and main advantage against your competition? That is your value proposition. Keep it simple. You should be able to communicate it without even a moment’s thought, and it must be communicated convincingly and with passion! If you don't believe it, then you won't be able to make your customer believe it.
Make sure that your value proposition clearly differentiates your product or service from your competition in the customer's eyes. Remember that your "competition" may not be selling exactly the same type of product you are. If you are a licensed software vendor, your primary competitor may become a SaaS provider or perhaps open source software. Each requires a different type of value proposition.
Make sure your value proposition is clearly spelled out in the beginning and end of your software proposal. Having a compelling software sales proposal is critical to come across as professional and convince your customer that your product or service will meet their specific needs. You can download our Software Proposal Template Package here to use as a starting point to developing your own professional sales proposal. It will really increase the effectiveness of your proposals, help you build credibility, and speed up your turnaround time to close the deal faster.
Also, check this article for key tips on writing winning software proposals or you can start with this free software proposal outline.
You must be able to write down exactly who your customer base is: are they in a specific industry? Are they in small, medium or large companies? What other common characteristics do the right customers have? And who are the specific purchasers and stakeholders within your customer? Take the time to put together detailed target customer profiles for each of your software products or services.
Sales time is valuable. Make sure you have a software sales strategy to reach these specific target customers. Do they have particular conferences they go to? Do they read particular publications or visit certain sites? If you have a lead outside of this target, you should think long and hard about whether you want to spend your time chasing it. Focus your sales efforts on the right customers.
It is important to build strong customer relationships. Know who within your target customers you need to build relationships with, and have a software sales process that supports that. These should be the individual purchasers, stakeholders and influencers of your product or service purchase. Depending on the typical fee for your software or service, they might be at the CXO level or not, but make sure you are developing relationships high enough up in your customer organization to be able to influence the purchase decision.
You may have great relationships at the IT manager or business unit manager level, and those may get you some good insight and information…. But don’t kid yourself that that is enough to influence the sale unless you really do have a low-cost product with a one-off purchase decision.
Your relationship-building efforts must include reaching out regularly to stakeholders at both existing clients and new leads. Getting face-to-face can be time consuming and expensive. However, excellent web conferencing tools exist that make it possible to hold effective sales meetings and presentations online. In addition, make sure you understand the impact the internet is having on B2B sales and the customer purchase cycle. More and more, B2B buyers are relying on the internet for their product research and evaluation, which means that when you get that first sales call they have already gathered quite a bit of product data and done a preliminary vendor short-list. The worst thing you can do in that case is to start with a "generic" sales pitch.
A final critical part to developing strong customer relationships is established a strong channel network. This could include working with a software reseller,distributor, or complementary software vendors and service providers.
Use ROI and client examples to help reinforce your value proposition. Just having a strong product, identifying the right customers, and building relationships is not enough.
You need to convince that customer that you really can deliver on your value proposition for them. That means communicating a strong and convincing ROI, taking into account both hard ($) and soft benefits. Many software vendors do not take the time to think through and quantify all the possible areas of ROI, but in fact a strong ROI methodology is critical to your software sales success. Unless, of course, you have such a stunning value proposition that customers are willing to pay for it regardless. And make sure you have customer examples or case studies that reinforce your value proposition and ROI message also.
It is important to ensure that your sales channel or organization and your sales compensation drives the right behavior to achieve your sales goals. This may seem obvious, but it is amazing how many companies get this wrong.
Both your sales organizational structure or channel program and individual ownership/reward must be structured in a way that supports engagement with the right target customers in the best way to sell effectively. Sales process is absolutely necessary, but make sure it does not get in the way of your sales people doing their job, and make sure the comp plans are rewarding the right behavior.
Your sales channel or organizational structure should be as effective as possible in reaching your target customers. Consider using a software reseller, making software resell rights available, or building an affiliate program. You can also explore more about how to sell software online here.
For more detail on commission planning, check out these tips for putting together an effective software commission plan that drives the right behaviors from the entire sales team.
Many of these software sales points may seem straightforward… but without explicitly prioritizing these six areas it is easy to get defocused and not recognize the wasted effort that results.
Next, develop a strong, professional, customer-focused sales proposal that will convince customers to purchase your product or service. Use our Software Proposal Template as a starting point.
For additional sales tools, templates, coaching and master classes, check out our Seven Steps Marketing store here. You'll have access to all the tools you need to increase your software sales expertise and help you drive revenue from your software.