Wednesday, July 8, 2015

microISV Credibility
and Increased Software Sales

Credibility is all about convincing prospects to believe your sales presentation. Enhance your credibility with software buyers, and you'll increase your software sales.

Credibility, Confidence, and Selling Software Applications

Credibility is the sum total of all of your marketing efforts. So says Jay Conrad Levinson, the author of the book "Guerrilla Marketing Excellence." Confidence, Levinson explains, is the most important reason that people buy from you. If your business is credible, you can inspire confidence and land many more sales than if your company is not credible. If Levinson is correct, then building your small independent software vendor's (microISV's) credibility should be a key component of your software marketing efforts.

Levinson tells us that we must become problem solvers. If he were writing about the software development industry, he would probably be urging microISVs to increase application sales by making prospects aware of a problem that they have, and by describing how their software can solve that problem. It's best to focus on a single problem, Levinson suggests, or two problems tops. In our industry, software developers lose credibility when they try to present a program as the solution to every problem in the world.

Credibility, Guarantees, and Selling More Software

For microISVs selling software applications on the Internet, credibility means having a well-written, professional-looking web site. It means offering a guarantee when most of your competitors don't. Almost all software developers who offer a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee tell me that the revenue that they lose from abusive customers is tiny compared with the additional sales that they started making when they introduced the guarantee.

Credit Card Payments and Credibility

Many online buyers won't enter their credit card information into an Internet order form unless they can see your company's name, postal address, and telephone number. Add this information to your contact page and your about-us page. On my website, I have all of this information on every page.

If your software development company is located in a country that has a bad reputation with credit cards, then some of your prospects are going to shy away from buying your software. You can solve this problem by touting the credibility of your eCommerce company. Select an eCommerce company that is based in a country which has a reputation for trustworthy banking. Explain on your order page where your eCommerce partner does business.

Don't assume that your prospects know and respect your eCommerce provider. Truth is, most people who buy software online aren't familiar with the major eCommerce companies. It's the microISV's responsibility to sell more software by building up their eCommerce company's credibility. On your buy-now page, tell your prospects why you've chosen your particular eCommerce firm. Talk about the eCommerce company's well-deserved reputation for security, privacy, and stability. Your eCommerce firm's credibility will transfer to your microISV, making prospects more comfortable buying from you online.

Competition and Credibility

Jack Trout, the author of the book "The New Positioning," has a fascinating idea about competition and credibility. Trout believes that we should look forward to having competitors. Having two or three competitors adds credibility to your software niche. There must be a need for software like yours if you have a bunch of other companies who offer it, too.

I don't expect too many microISVs to become giddy each time they learn of a new competitor. But a new competitor may mean that your market is growing, and that's good news.

Longevity and Credibility

In his book "Differentiate or Die," Jack Trout espouses an idea about credibility that will be much easier for microISVs to embrace than his idea (above) about the joys of competition. Trout says that heritage and longevity are forms of leadership, and leadership leads to credibility. Your microISV firm may not be the sales leader in your software marketing niche, but your company has credibility if you've been in the industry for a long time. If you've been in business for years and years, Trout would urge you to write about your company's history and experience.

Sponsorship of Software Industry Events and Credibility

David F. D’Alessandro, author of the book "Brand Warfare," believes that sponsoring industry events builds credibility.

Few small independent software vendors (microISVs) have the cash flow to sponsor a major national software industry event. But there are other relationships that software developers can form with software industry organizations that could increase their credibility and clout. There are local civic events, educational scholarship programs, as well as regional and national tech organizations that are looking for business partners and relationships. Associating your microISV firm with these organizations can make your company more credible.

In the software development industry, a number of membership organizations and software conference organizers offer visibility – and credibility – to software developers who want to become supporters and partners.

microISVs should look for opportunities in vertical markets, too. So if you're selling educational software, you need to look at sponsoring software organizations and conferences as well as educational marketplace conferences that aren't exclusively software-oriented. Often, charity events have program booklets that provide publicity for their sponsors. Create partnerships with trusted organizations. Your software marketing efforts can begin with simple things like link swaps and blog posting trades, and build to more complex exchanges as the relationship grows.

Copywriting and Credibility

Hank Nuwer, the author of "How to Write like an Expert about Anything," offers insights on how our writing style affects our credibility with the people in our target market. For starters, business people need to learn the jargon of the field that they're writing about.

Software developers have to take care not to weave technical terms into their writing. Replacing tech talk with ordinary business English is usually the best way to discuss computer software. If it's important to use technical terms, then we need to define our terms so our readers can understand and appreciate the information. Otherwise, they won't be able to follow our narrative. If we don't put these technical terms in context, we'll confuse our prospects, and damage our credibility.

Website writers in the software development industry need to talk less like techies, and more like our target audience. If you're selling educational software applications, for example, your web site's sales presentation should sound like it was written by a parent or by a teacher, and not by a computer programmer. microISVs who write and sell business and financial software need to write in a way that is credible to business managers and entrepreneurs.

Content and Credibility

In their book "Content Rules," Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman argue that creating an extensive library of content is the best way to establish our credibility with our customers and prospects. Handley and Chapman say that content builds trust. Content plus credibility can convert website visitors into software customers.

While "Content Rules" isn't particularly about the software development industry, following the book's advice would be a sound software marketing strategy. Software developers need to create podcasts, webcasts, screencasts, blogs, newsletters, whitepapers, case studies, and articles. As you build this library of content, you build your credibility with software buyers.

Credibility and the Bottom Line

Credibility isn't just an abstract notion that we need to think about now and then. Credibility is a serious asset that everybody in the software development industry can use to increase the sales of products and services.

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