The New Dynamic of Selling Software
The way retailers get customers to buy products has changed significantly, particularly as the web has become the mainstream choice for delivering software. Vendors can no longer sell a software license with a maintenance contract for a large flat fee and wait for a significant problem or for the license to be due for upgrade. Instead, the month-to-month nature of cloud services more closely reflects the fickle nature of consumer goods — consumers can easily drop your product for a competitor with a few clicks of the mouse.
Customers want to know, and be constantly reassured, during ownership that they're extracting maximum value from their purchase. This means outbound marketing and communications have a far more dramatic impact on sales than just being a corporate megaphone. They've now become feedback lines that reach further into the traditional sales cycle.
So what to do in this new era?
By 2014, two-thirds of software will be sold and delivered online. Whether it's a B-to-B or B-to-C service you're offering, buyers expect the shopping experience to be universally similar. Start looking for not only where customers most want self-service but also at what point self-service requires intervention. With the average buyer seeing 14 touchpoints before engaging with sales, outbound tools like mobile notifications, email marketing, social channels and even direct mailings are all subject to the "instant gratification" buyers demand today. These marketing channels need to be enabled properly to allow for a purchase from any of them.
Take the Money However They Give It
Software buyers’ various preferences for paying for products have to be accommodated in order to ensure their retention. One size no longer fits all when it comes to revenue streams, and your business model needs to be flexible enough to accommodate whichever method the money comes in. Whether you have just a handful on an ad-supported freemium version, the bulk on month-to-month subscriptions and a few more on prepaid contracts, you're now capable of growing your business more readily and are more adept at serving your customers the way they want. The marketing piece of this component comes into play with regards to finding new understanding of market segments, experimenting with offer packages and prices in campaigns, and communicating with the customer on usage value as often as possible.