Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Help Prospects
Buy Your Software

Consumers know that they have choices. But they don't know how to decide.

So says Sergio Zyman in his excellent book "The End of Marketing As We Know It." Zyman says that we should help consumers decide. While Zyman's experience is in selling Coca-Cola and not software, his advice would be to help prospects decide by defining ourselves, by defining our competitors, and by positioning ourselves in the software marketplace.

Defining yourself

Tell your software prospects who you are and why they should buy your application. Take it one step further by creating in prospects' minds the expectation that all software in your category must have one or more features that are unique to your application. Don't leave anything to chance. Tell prospects why they should choose your program, and not your competitor's.

Defining your competitors

If your software has features or benefits that your competitor's software lacks, then talk about them on your website. Even if your program's features aren't spectacularly beneficial, talk about them in glowing terms, and point out that your competitors are lacking.

Does your software cost more than the competition? Then tout your high price. Explain to prospects that high quality comes with a high price. Tell them that they deserve to own the best software available.

Does your software cost less than the competition? Then explain that your low price doesn't reflect low quality. Tell prospective customers that they don't have to pay too much to own the best software.

Positioning your software

Stop pretending that your application is the perfect program for everybody. Prospects know that no software can be the best choice for newbies and power users alike. No program is the best choice for both people who want an all-in-one solution for every problem known to humankind, and for people who want a streamlined solution to one particular problem.

Zyman believes that we should never let price be "the tie breaker." Even if there aren't big differences between your software and the applications that your competitors are offering, make sure you tell your prospects why yours is different - and better. Don't let prospects define the criteria for comparing your software with your competitors' because, if you do, many of them will do it on the basis of price. And that's not good software marketing.

Objections to buying your software

In his book "How to Close Every Sale," Joe Girard lists the six most common objections that every salesperson has to deal with. Girard, a record-breaking automobile salesman, wrote about nose-to-nose sales. But microISVs need to anticipate these objections to their online sales presentations, too, and make sure that prospects can easily find answers to these issues.

   * I can't afford it. 

Some people are hooked on freeware, and they simply won't buy your software. They'd rather spend time installing free software than spend a few dollars to buy your application.

If you're marketing business software, tell your prospects how your application will pay for itself. If you're offering games or entertainment software, tell your website visitors that they deserve to enjoy your software.

   * I want to talk it over with my spouse.

Tell prospects that they can feel good about their decision to buy your software. Tell them that your excellent product support will ensure that the software will continue to deliver the results that they've paid for.

   * I have a good friend in the business.

While this objection is not likely to come up in the sale of an off-the-shelf software application, a lot of people want to check with their tech-savvy family member or business colleague before buying your program. Use your money-back guarantee to nudge them in the right direction.

   * I want to shop around.

Tell prospects that their software search is over. Summarize your software's main benefits, and tell prospects that you deliver everything that people have come to expect in an application like yours.

   * Give me some brochures, and I'll get back to you.

Again, you won't get this objection online. But you can sell more software if your online sales presentation is crisp and easy to understand.

   * I have a specific objection about your product or service.

Be sure that your product page addresses all of the objections that you think your prospects might have. Remember that you are usually selling to multiple people, especially when you're offering multi-user and site licenses. For example, if you're selling educational software, you have to convince the student, the parent, the teacher, and the school system's tech person that they need your application.

Invite your website readers to find answers to additional questions on your FAQ page. Ask prospects to email you with questions that they can't resolve on your website. Anticipate and answer these objections, and you'll sell more software.

Why don't people buy?

In his book "Never Wrestle with a Pig," Mark McCormack writes about the reasons people aren't buying from you. Again, the author isn't writing about the software development industry. But most of his ideas apply to microISVs' companies.

  • No money
  • No authority
  • Too much risk-aversion
  • No understanding of what you're offering
  • No affection for what you're selling
  • No affection for you personally
  • Weak sales message

I believe that in the software development business, most people don't buy from us because they've never heard of us. We can all do a better job of using the basic tools of publicity to talk about the products and services that we offer.

All of us can improve the way that we use Google and the other search engines to target the people who should be using our products or services. We should be adding keyword-rich content to our websites, and ensure that we're using the best  SEO techniques. We should be using our blogs, newsletters, press releases, webcasts, and eBooks to make prospects comfortable with our products and services.

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