This article originally appeared on the DevPro Journal website.
Sometimes to get a clearer picture of your strengths and weaknesses, it helps to get a fresh perspective. Tyler Wells, North American sales manager for MicroTouch, regularly works with ISVs to design digital signage, kiosk, point of sale, and various other touchscreen solutions for verticals including retail, hospitality, healthcare, gaming, financial, and industrial.
Wells has witnessed which strategies implemented by software companies have been successful and which have failed.
Why is selling software products different than selling IT hardware?
Wells: When manufacturing hardware, you create products with certain specifications, which can often be used in various solutions. Software needs to be designed for a specific use case. It needs to solve a specific problem.
That makes the approach to sales different. Software sales teams need a deep understanding of their markets or industries. It’s also important for them to qualify leads so they can devote their time to customers most likely to purchase their software. The process takes marketing, cold calls, and follow-ups – a coordinated, targeted approach.
What’s the best way for software companies to fill their sales funnels?
Wells: It takes marketing and brand awareness campaigns. Companies will look for solutions to their challenges and business problems. Selling software starts with defining your software’s value and ensuring prospects have the information early in the decision-making process.
One of the best ways to do that is to form partnerships with hardware vendors that can elevate your brand at tradeshows and give referrals if one of their customers is looking for a particular type of software.
How can software companies shorten the sales cycle?
Wells: One of the best ways to keep the sales cycle short is to narrow your market and work to provide the best solution. Identify companies that will get the most value from your software and let them know your software is the best on the market for their needs. The sales cycle will be shorter if they know your software is the leader in your space.
How can software companies effectively incentivize their channels?
Wells: Beyond offering channel partners a competitive margin, you’ll also see more sales if you make things easy for them. Work to enhance brand awareness so their prospects will recognize your products. Form partnerships and certify your software for vendor hardware use so resellers have options when creating solutions. Also, train your channel on your software and how to sell and provide all necessary documentation.
Resellers will likely promote the products they understand best, that capture their prospects’ attention quickly and can sell in the least amount of time.
What advice can you give software companies on upselling and cross-selling?
Wells: More than a brand, your end users want solutions to work. It’s beneficial to choose hardware and peripherals from vendors with extensive networks of partners. This makes upselling easier because you can assure your clients that all the components of their solution are compatible. Furthermore, it makes life easier for your development team because if you work with a partner who has already certified other solutions for their products, it will take less effort to create a seamless solution.
Additionally, if your partners and their partners have built a strong brand name and reputation in your market, selling their products will be easier.
What are the most important things that reps selling software need to keep in mind?
Wells: At the end of the day, stay focused, try to solve one problem, and build your strategy around it. Your end users need to know how your software works, and your channel needs to know it will work and it’s easy to install. And you need to know you have peripheral products that can create a total solution.
Starting with that foundation, you create the most seamless and coordinated process for selling software.