Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tuxera NTFS for Mac wins the 2013
Epsilon Award for Software Excellence

Tuxera NTFS for Mac by Tuxera Inc. was named the winner of the 2013 Epsilon Award at the 13th annual European Software Conference. Each year, The Epsilon Award recognizes the best software application from the European independent software vendor (ISV) community.

The OS X operating system does not support writing to Microsoft Windows NTFS volumes. Tuxera fills this need with Tuxera NTFS for Mac, the fastest way to read and write Windows disks from Mac. Unlike other software that allows Macs to read and write Windows data, Tuxera NTFS for Mac employs a unique proprietary smart-caching technology that maximizes data transfer speeds, as it ensures data integrity.

Tuxera NTFS for Mac supports native extended attributes. The software automatically translates and converts file names to NTFS standards. Tuxera NTFS for Mac is fully compatible with third-party software including Parallels Desktop, VMWare Fusion, and TrueCrypt.

Tuxera NTFS for Mac works with the latest OS X Mavericks and every version of Mac OS X starting from 10.4 (Tiger). Intel and PowerPC Mac hardware systems are supported, as are all versions of NTFS. The software works in both 32-bit and 64-bit kernel modes.

A single-user license costs $31(US). Multi-user license discounts are available. For more information, visit www.tuxera.com/products/tuxera-ntfs-for-mac

The 14th annual European Software Conference will be held November 22nd and 23rd, 2014 in a location to be announced in March of 2014. Additional information about the Epsilon Award, and about the European Software Conference, can be found on www.euroconference.org

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Closing Every Software Sale

Book review of How to Close Every Sale - Field-tested, can't-lose techniques to win lifetime customers - and make every sale stick! by Joe Girard (published 2002 by Warner Books).

This book about face-to-face selling can help microISVs sell desktop/laptop software, iPhone/Android apps, and software as a service (SaaS) on the Internet.

Joe Girard has been named "the world's greatest salesman" by The Guinness book of World Records. In a period of fifteen years, Girard sold 13,000 cars, with no fleet sales and no leases.

Unlike the majority of sales books that emphasize closing each sale, Girard points out that every salesperson has to create the need for his or her product or service. We must create the desire to own what we're selling. As Girard says, "The prospect must believe that your product has more value than his or her money."

Prospects don't like hard sell. Most people don't like dealing with an overbearing salesman or saleswoman. Software developers can learn from this advice. By making your website congenial and professional, you can convince prospects to make the software-buying decision, without resorting to hard sell tactics.

In addition to selling your software, Girard tells us, you have to sell yourself and sell your company. A professional website does a lot of this work on your behalf. In addition, your website has to convey both conviction and enthusiasm. Your prospects need to think that you're proud of your family of software applications, and that you believe that they're valuable.

"I don't have anything on my walls to confuse my customers," Girard tells us about his office. "There are no photographs of cars because I don't want a prospect to think about any other model except the one that I'm selling him. Nor is my desk cluttered with anything that might be distracting."

Girard would probably advise developers to get rid of many of the distractions on their websites, too. Don't lose prospects by letting them click on links to your trade association, local weather forecast, or favorite sports team. Distracting prospects can damage your software marketing efforts. Keep them focused on the prize - on your software programs and the benefits that they'll enjoy when they own your software.

Girard believes that more face-to-face sales are lost to procrastination than to any other problem. Many prospects are afraid to make decisions, and they'll say that they want to "think it over". The web turns your prospect's computer into a procrastination machine. Software developers have to convince prospects that now is the time for them to make the buying decision. Ask for the sale, and make it easy to people to order your software.

One of the closing techniques that Girard talks about in "How to Close Every Sale" is the Follow-the-Leader close. "Some prospects will buy only after they know that prominent people have signed up." On the Internet, this means that user testimonials can nudge prospects to become customers. Make it easy for prospects to find your endorsements and testimonials.

There's a fascinating chapter on the dangers of overselling. Girard admonishes us not to confuse prospects with too many details. You can overwhelm people, and lose the sale.

I don't think Joe Girard would be a fan of the shareware concept. When people tell him that they want to think about his proposal and talk to him in a few days, he always says, "I'm sorry but I don't make callbacks."

If Joe Girard can't sell you a car in a single sales presentation, he won't set up a second appointment to try again to close the sale. He's so good at selling, he'd rather work with a new prospect than meet with today's prospect a second time.

Imagine how Joe Girard would feel if he learned that there is an entire industry that turns down sales, and forces prospects to try before they buy. I'm sure he'd urge shareware authors to try to close every sale, and to use the "try before you buy" technique as a backup sales approach. But he would be amazed that there is an entire sales methodology based on telling people not to buy now.

The book contains advice on going for the big sale (in the world of microISV sales, this would be selling multi-user licenses or site licenses), saying "thank you," staying in touch with your customers, providing customer service, and doing all of the things that ensure both referrals and future sales.

To get the most value out of "How to Close Every Sale," you'll have to translate Joe Girard's advice about face-to-face sales into the marketplace of selling software over the Internet. But it's worth the work. Joe Girard is an enormously successful salesman, and most of his advice and techniques can help software developers increase sales of their applications.

The book is an easy read, and full of good ideas.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Screenshots and Press Releases

Email your press release as plain text. Don't include a screenshot or boxshot image with your press release. It's okay to include a link to a screen shot or a link to a product shot in your press release. But many editors - perhaps most editors - won't even open emails that have attachments.

Better yet, create a press resources page on your web site, and point to it in your press release. Use your news release to tell the editors that your press page has logos, screenshots, box shots, and background information.

There are some real benefits to having a press resources page on your site: Editors and bloggers will feel welcome. Software reviewers will think that you take them seriously. Prospects and customers will see that you expect the press to take your software seriously.

Use New Product Announcements to tell thousands of prospects about your application. News releases create more software sales. Transform your unknown software application into a best-seller with press releases.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Smartphone and Feature Phone Market Research

Software developers need to do some rudimentary market research when deciding which desktop/laptop, tablet, or phone platform to select for their next application development project. Some interesting data points were included in a recent issue of Processor magazine. A recent Nielsen report revealed the percentages of people in various countries that use smartphones versus feature phones.

Nielsen defines feature phones as mobile phones that have functions similar to those found in smartphones, but which lack an operating system with the sophistication that you would find in, say, iOS or Android smartphones. microISVs, on the other hand, define smartphones as phones with a large installed base, and adequate software development tools to make it easy to create apps.

When you see market penetration numbers for phones, be sure to split the data into its component pieces: smartphones and feature phones.

  • Smartphones, for example, are used by twice as many people as are feature phones in countries like Australia (65% versus 31%) and the UK (61% versus 30%). 
  • Smartphone/feature-phone market penetration is much more balanced in the US (53% versus 38%) and Russia (37% versus 51%).
  • Smartphones take a back seat to feature phones in India (10% versus 80%) and Turkey (19% versus 61%).

When selecting a phone platform for your next development project, don't just look at the overall phone market penetration numbers. Find country-by-country figures in the locations that are important to you. And be sure that the numbers relate to the OS that you want to spend time mastering.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Software Sales and Gender

There's a very funny story in Paco Underhill's excellent book "Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping." The story demonstrates the difference between male and female shoppers.

Underhill observed a man shopping for underwear. The guy grabbed a handful of waistband, pulled it out, and tried to read what size shorts he wears. By contrast, Underhill tells us, it's hard to imagine a woman who doesn't know her underwear size.

If men and women buy your software differently, then it makes sense to have two different paths through your web site. Or maybe the major split is between newbies and techies. Or young and old. Or single-license buyers versus people who buy multi-user and site licenses. Or teachers versus parents.

Think through the different uses and benefits that would interest each group of prospects, and design a unique sales path for each group.

It takes a lot more work to create multiple sales paths on your website. But there are two big advantages to this approach:

  • Every prospect finds a sales message tailored to their needs.
  • Google and the other search engines get a lot more keyword-rich content to index, and to use to send more traffic to your site.

Measure your current sales. Add more sales messages. Measure again.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Software Developers
and Venture Capitalists

There is a lot less venture capital available to software developers than there was in the past.

So says a recent study by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), as reported in a recent issue of Processor Magazine.

During the second quarter of 2013, start-up companies raised $2.9(US) billion dollars, down 33% from the first quarter of the year, and down 54% from the Q2 2012 figure.

The report quotes NVCA president Mark Heesen: "Many long-standing, pedigree venture firms are heeding the guidance from limited partners and raising smaller, more agile funds." And that means less venture capital funding available for microISVs who want to grow their software development firms using an infusion of outside money.

Monday, November 4, 2013

microISVs and the Business Cycle

"I've driven through my share of rainstorms," Walter Winston tells us, "listening to some radio announcer in a windowless room telling me that it's a sunny day."

Winston was the CEO of Citibank between 1968 and 1984, and was quoted in David Olive's 2001 book "A Devil's Dictionary of Business Jargon."

"During a change in economic climate, the biggest mistake a leader can make is not to recognize it. Accurately assessing the business cycle is key to your company's success. Recognize when the weather is shifting. Rain or shine - look out."

What is today's economic climate? The worldwide economy has been in turmoil for years. The desktop/laptop software marketplace is getting smaller, and software as a service (SaaS), tablet computing, and mobile computing are forces in the marketplace. iOS and Android apps are bringing software retail prices down. Way down.

This is not the time for business as usual. This is not the time for software developers to look for another me-too application to develop.

It's time to look at the economic climate, and make sure your strategic plan is pointing you in the right direction.