Engineering the Sales Process for Niche Software (Guest Post)

sales-funnel

An example of a regular sales funnel.

This is a guest post by Allen Brouwer at BlackLabMediaGroup.com. He is working with me in my niche software business and in charge of developing the sales funnel.

Niche software products are becoming a huge way for entrepreneurs to create a new revenue stream and start a business with little capital and equity. With little risk put in, just asking a few questions to the thought leaders in the niche field, you can have a product created the help solve their problems and needs.

Developing a software product is very easy. One doesn’t have to know how to code or how to do any back end work to develop a product. All you have to do- is ask business people in the niche specific questions to find out problems software can solve. More information on Niche Software Development in 2013.

Developing is easy, selling the product is hard.

If you have a product that no one will purchase, there’s no sense starting the development process to begin with.

An easy way to sell products is to start with the product that solves a problem or a group of problems. We start with a product that helps a customer either save time or money. This provides us with a better chance of making a sale, rather than selling them something that they don’t possibly need or don’t benefit from.

Say a business still uses direct-mail, and they have their assistant write letters put them in envelopes, place stamps on the envelope, and send the letters out. Now selling this business an automatic stamp machine to elevate the one problem with adding stamps doesn’t really help the business that much. Selling the business an automated automatic e-mail system telling them they could do away with direct mail completely changes the problem completely. They can now utilize their time in places other than sending out direct mail.

Making sure you start by solving problems for customers is vital to the success of selling the product.

A great way to find out if you have a product people want to purchase, is by calling them directly. Call your customers ahead of time before you start development or before the product is finished. If your product is specializing in e-mail marketing, ask the customer what they’re currently doing for marketing their business. Target your customers asking directly if they use e-mail marketing or if they have ever considered using e-mail marketing.

If yes:

  • what products have they used?
  • are they still using that product?
  • if they changed products?
  • what do they like/don’t they like?

If no:

  • why not?
  • are you looking to implement in the future?

Gathering this information will help you determine if you should continue with your business venture or can it. Cold calling customers will also help you feel the environment and the culture of the industry you’re trying to enter. It will let you know if they’re more relaxed or more professional. It will give you a first hand view on how many levels it takes to get the decision-maker.

So you’ve reached the decision-maker, asked the right questions, realized that this is the market and industry that you should continue pursuing, but you don’t have a product, what should you do next? You’ve come this far, you have them on the phone, you have their attention, make the sale!

Pre-selling your product before launch is critical.

Even if you don’t have a product yet you can always sell them something that’s in development. Companies always sell a beta version of products before release. If they don’t sell the beta version, many promise something in the future. A very simple and easy way to make the sale is to explain to the decision-maker or business owner exactly what it is you are doing and producing. Offered to send them more information; all you need is their e-mail address.

Once you have the e-mail address of your potential customer or hot lead, you can then send them information. You will direct them them to your features page or a landing page with a video or image of what your product or service can do. Hopefully, you have placed a “Buy Now” button on the page to make the purchase easy and seamless for your customer.

If your product is not ready for delivery, as soon as you receive payment from a customer contact them immediately. Let them know that the product is in development or on backorder but that you value them as one of your first customers. You may want to consider giving these first customers a discount or let them know that they will receive a certain feature or membership option for free. Having these first customers are vital to the snowball effect that will come from the followers within the industry.

Demo using screenshots.

The developer could still be working on the product, but you should have what the designer has made. Show the customer what the user interface will feature; showcase what the back end and the front end will look like and how it will operate. Let the customer see how the product looks and feels even if you do not have a functioning product.

Pre-selling the product is probably the most important part of the niche software creation process. More important than developing and designing, without sales you don’t have a business. Remember to sell or get lead information every time you connect with an owner or decision maker.