Thursday, July 2, 2015

Selling Software
to Corporate Users

Until a very few years ago, software-buying decisions in larger enterprises were controlled by the IT department. Things have changed. Today, many business managers are ignoring the authority of the IT department and the CIO, and are making their own software-buying decisions. Software developers need to be aware of this trend, and adjust their marketing strategies to take advantage of it.

Roughly ninety percent of the business managers (versus IT managers) in corporations and other large enterprises will spend some of their departments' budgets directly on IT expenses, without asking the CIO or IT managers for permission. So says Forrester Research, as reported in a recent issue of Processor Magazine.

Processor Magazine calls these business spenders "renegades." Small independent software vendors (microISVs) should call them "prospects," and find out how to sell them their desktop/laptop software, smartphone apps, and software as a service (SaaS) applications.

The top 25 percent of these renegades are the big spenders. They will allocate an average of 21 percent of their budgets on IT expenditures. Forrester mentions that they will hire their own IT personnel, without going through the normal process of requesting support from their in-house IT manager. They will also buy smartphone apps and analytics without the advice or consent of the IT professionals.

Forrester recommends that enterprises' CIOs accept the fact that they no longer control their corporations' IT expenditures. The CIO and the IT managers need to act as consultants to the business units that they support. Centralized control over IT expenditures is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. IT departments have to deliver high quality support to their business departments, or their influence will continue to decline.

What do microISVs need to do to take advantage of this trend in the business and nonprofit communities? Instead of targeting only the IT decision-makers and buyers, software developers need to find a way to market their applications to business managers and end-users as well:

  • When you're writing and distributing press releases about your software, you can't limit the scope of your press release distribution to the tech publications and blogs. You need to include the general business end-user community, as well as all of the vertical markets that you're targeting.
  • When you're deciding how to spend your advertising budgets, you can't look narrowly at the IT community as the people who might be potential customers. Depending upon the software that you're offering, you need to reach the on-target end-user communities, too.
  • When you're crafting the sales message on your website, you can't address your sales message to just the high-tech, computer-savvy people who work in the IT department. You need to use plain English to explain the benefits of your software to business people who probably won't understand the technical details of your software.

Don't assume that IT departments and CIOs still control the purchase of software within medium- and large-sized institutions. Target your applications - and your marketing presentations - to the end-user community that you're trying to serve, and you'll sell more software.

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