© Dwight Foster, Insightly CRM
NEWS AND INFORMATION
© Dwight Foster, Insightly CRM
As global markets change and become more "local" so the demands on B2B will increase to meet these new opportunities. However, do it right and the reward of increased sales can be achieved. Consider some of these ...25% of a salesperson's time is spent doing research - not only is this a massive resource cost on a collective basis to businesses around the world, but were you to provide comprehensive information that was easy to find and on which to make a buying decision together with an easy purchasing process in a single place and rather than scouring the world, the salesperson will see your commerce site as a preferred source.Google does not generate B2B deals - Google will direct a lead to your commerce site, what happens at your site is what will close deals. The better the decision making tools, the better the information provided and the simpler and friendlier the user experience, the more likelihood there will be of a deal being concluded.Only 35% of B2B social branding generates sales - Business makes buying decisions based on information, solution building, price and numerous other factors. If you consider that 65% of the sales are generated by these factors, then your B2B Commerce site and systems must provide the features to deliver the relevant content to your visitors.BRIC is growing rapidly - Use your B2B Commerce platforms to expand your business to the largest growing economies (Brasil, Russia, India and China). While your B2B Commerce platform needs to support localized payment, language and service needs, B2B offers you a way to enter these markets and to generate new opportunities.Use Multiple Channels - It is a global multi-channel road ahead to reach more customers through more touch points. Expanding your B2B allows you to go-to-market using traditional and emerging sales channels like resellers, on-line stores, subscriptions, in-product consumption, AppStores, social purchasing and mobile commerce.
© Saxum Commerce
Apple has beyond any shadow of doubt proved that a monetized marketplace delivers great returns for them, an awesome go-to-market opportunity for their developer community and passionate customers.B2B software vendors, however, are slow to take advantage of this phenomenon. There are numerous reasons for this but that is another topic. Here are some reasons why software vendors SHOULD be looking very seriously at building their marketplace … even if it is only a small one.The Most Important Reason - Generate More DealsUltimately it boils down to two facts above all as to why software vendors should have a marketplace included in their multi-channel sales and marketing mix …It generates more core sales; andIt builds a great echo-system!
How is this achieved … see the list below!Customer ExpectationsThe user experience expectations of customers is shifting and being driven by their consumer experiences at marketplaces such as the Apple AppStore, Android Markt as well as their purchases from on-line stores such as Amazon and Zappos.This is increasingly adding demands on software vendors to provide a similar user experience to their customers when they are looking for, evaluating and purchasing business software.Functionality Critical to Closing DealsNo single product can provide all the functionality needed to deliver the complex systems required by the modern business. Independent Software Vendors (“ISVs") form a vital part of the solution chain by adding those features and functions needed to close deals.Further, on average salespeople spend 25% of their time seeking out information to build customer solutions. This time is expensive and could be better spent on lead and deal generation activities.A marketplace that promotes both core and add-on software makes products and related information easier to find and evaluate thus making it quicker and easier to build solutions while also making the software vendor more competitive, customers happier and the ISVs motivated to continue investment into developing vital add-on solutions.Earnings to Invest Back Into The ChannelBudgets for channel development are always under pressure and yet for the average software vendor their channel is critical to revenue growth. So which comes first – investment into channel or revenue?A marketplace can and should be a profit centre where the extra earnings generated could be used to top up the lagging budgets for channel development, which in turn would have a positive impact on core revenue generation.Increased Internet Marketing – For FreeGaining high rankings in search engines together with the demands on software vendors to use social networks to promote themselves on the web is a time consuming and costly exercise.A well constructed marketplace that provides an environment for the vendor’s echo-system to congregate, communicate and transact would result in large volumes of traffic, links and in-bound content being created for the marketplace.As opposed to paid search, on-line advertising and paid staff to create blogs, tweets and other social network updates, this can be achieved at zero cost through the marketplace and the echo-system.Enhanced Service DeliveryThe web is a low cost and efficient way to deliver new or enhanced services to a software vendor’s echo-system. These services can include skills sourcing, project resourcing, training and support.This service delivery can improve the effectiveness of the channel and provide a convenient way for customers to consume products and services.The marketplace is a great way to deliver these services and as a by-product the traffic also creates the opportunity to on-sell additional products and services.
© Saxum Commerce
Before SaaS, Social Business or any of the myriad of buzzwords currently common to our business day came Apple and to put it quite simply Apple has changed the buying and consumption habits of millions of people around the world and in turn, has impacted heavily on our business models.While Apple’s focus is on the consumer and the model does not directly translate to the business space, the influences they have brought to the business world include:There is an App for everything: If there is anything you want to do on your mobile device, the chances are that there is an App for it. These Apps are also easy to find, evaluate and purchase.Simplified decision-making: Because the Apps are easy to find and compare and the information provided about the products is comprehensive, the decision making process is made much easier for the consumer and the time to make the decision is substantially less.Money can be made by helping others to be successful: Creating an extensive developer ecosystem and then helping them to reach consumers has made millionaires of some of the most unlikely people. It has also delivered an invaluable service to the consumer at really good prices. And yet, as is easy to see, Apple has made billions out of it!Growing a passionate and loyal ecosystem: If we all had customers and suppliers as passionate as those that Apple has … well I guess we could all be an “Apple”. By delivering quality products at acceptable prices in a way that is easy, safe and reliable, Apple has endeared their ecosystem and been envied by their competitors.If your brand is used to help others – take a share: Apple has created a brand that is highly valuable and enriches the ecosystem. The building of the brand and maintaining its stature is not cheap. While the ecosystem is synergistic to Apple’s success, Apple has provided the framework within which the ecosystem can thrive and make substantial returns. It is only fair that apple take a share of this success.Can you strategically afford to ignore this phenomenon and not look at creating your own ecosystem driven marketplace.
© Saxum Commerce
The common perception is that an AppStore is the start and end of a software marketplace. While an AppStore certainly forms a part of a B2B Software Marketplace, it is by no means the only important element of the marketplace. As defined by Collins, a marketplace is ...marketplace (ˈmɑːkɪt,pleɪs) — n, 1. a place where a public market is held2. any centre where ideas, opinions, etc, are exchanged3. the commercial world of buying and sellingWith this in mind, while a B2B Marketplace could exist with only an AppStore it really should include each of the elements in the definition to deliver a comprehensive service to a software vendor's ecosystem.Lets take a look at a few of the different components that could make up a marketplace and how each impacts on the software vendor.AppStore (or eCommerce driven product catalog)No single product can provide all the functionality needed to deliver the complex systems required by the modern business.Independent Software Vendors ("ISVs") form a vital part of the solution chain by adding those features and functions needed to close deals.Further, on average, salespeople spend 25% of their time seeking out information to build customer solutions. This time is expensive and could be better spent on lead and deal generation activities.If you consider that 65% of a buy decision for business software is based on information delivery, a marketplace that promotes both core and add-on software makes products and related information easier to find and evaluate thus making it quicker and easier to build solutions while also making the software vendor more competitive, customers happier and the ISVs motivated to continue investment into developing vital add-on solutions.Skills MarketThe people and businesses with a diverse set of skills that makes up the software vendor's ecosystem or supply chain is critical to the successful sale, implementation and support of systems for end users.Having visibility of these skills on a global basis provides an invaluable tool for ensuring that the vendor remains competitive by knowing where skills can be deployed or where training and recruitment may be required.Further, the ecosystem can advertise their projects, resources and skills and then share this information to better execute sales and project opportunities. This together with a comprehensive collection of information on the projects and skills available, makes it possible to quickly and easily find relevant information and to then review them in-depth. This will ensure that projects are efficiently resourced and that channel partners, with the appropriate skills, can be found and contracted.A vendor can also monetize this skills market and utilise these funds to reinvest back into the ecosystem.Self HelpHow many calls a day does the average vendor get from their ecosystem requesting information about invoices raised, licences sold, activation codes lost and account detail updates to name just a few.Providing a set of self help portals to each of the members of the ecosystem saves vendors the time and cost of dealing with these issues while delivering an added service to their ecosystem by making this information easily accessible.To have access to a portal would also require the community member to register for an account. This account can be designed to require the accountholder to enter various types of profile information and to subscribe to a marketing "opt-in". The profile information and opt-in provides a substantial benefit for executing marketing and promotional activities.Traffic Analysis and Lead GenerationProviding a range of touch points to attract the ecosystem and new potential customers and partners to the marketplace brings with it new sales opportunities.Effective measurement of the source of the traffic and profiling their activity in the marketplace would bring about intelligence that can be used to understand areas of interest, product demand, referring sources, marketing an promotional activity effectiveness and ultimately generate new sales.Given the clear and important benefits of having a professional marketplace, vendors that do not have a marketplace must realise the strategic importance of having one and for those that have started the process but still only provide an online catalog, it is time to properly construct and monetize the marketplace.
© Saxum Commerce
A practical guide on how to use your marketplace (including your Enterprise AppStore) to grow traffic and generate new revenue opportunitiesFor business software vendors, generating repeat traffic to their sites is challenging but if it is achieved can be very lucrative.
“It is far more profitable to provide products and services to existing trading partners than to find new ones.”Trading partners in this context should be considered to include end-users, resellers (partners, system integrators), ISVs, distributors and current/ex-employees of these organizations.Of course, no traffic generation should exclude new trading partners so a broad approach to traffic generation, which envelopes both old and new will drive increased traffic and will leverage new revenue opportunities.So how do you increase return traffic to your website and how do you then monetize that traffic?“Having a great looking website or product catalog is not enough anymore!”Step 1: Create a MarketplaceThe first step is to create an environment … an “enterprise software marketplace” … that provides multiple reasons to encourage your partners to return. Some of these reasons could include, but not limited to:Efficiently finding and purchasing add-on products to compliment their implemented solutionsRich content (not just web pages) to help buyers with the evaluation of add-on products and servicesFinding resources and skills to assist with projects, training and supportConnecting with the broad ecosystem to share information and experiencesTracking and managing the licenses for the products they have purchased or on-soldManaging the range of subscription, on-premise and mobile solutions being deployed
The marketplace should also provide your partners with an experience that matches that of their consumer web experiences (e.g. the Apple AppStore) by providing a broad set of functions to simplify the finding, decision-making and buying process.Choosing the correct marketplace platform with the appropriate functionality is critical to being able to achieve this. View this post for more information in this regard: A Software Marketplace is NOT just an AppStore !Step 2: Build Your TrafficSo now you have a marketplace and a functional platform on which it runs. Now for the real challenge, using that marketplace to attract the traffic. Here are a few ideas …Simple use of your existing marketing activities:Create Blog, Twitter and LinkedIn posts that point back to your marketplaceAdd your marketplace URL to email signatures and all outbound marketing collateralPut a link to the marketplace on your homepageGet your partners to put links to the marketplace on their websitesInclude the marketplace in your next newsletter
Add “Rich” content to the marketplace:Have your ISVs and complimentary product developers add their products and services to the marketplace and include videos, brochures, technical info, screenshots, downloads and more.List your resellers, distributors, system integrators and service providers with comprehensive information about them – not just a list with a link to their website!
Use your marketplace platform:
© Saxum Commerce
In the enterprise software space, showing product ratings is not always a great idea.There are a number of reasons for this:Implementations fail for many reasons and it is not only the product that is at fault. In most cases the cause is a combination of issues such as the end-user not specifying their requirement properly, a systems integrator that did not do their job properly or a budget that overran.As human nature goes, users are more likely to rate a failed implementation than a successful one so the product may in many cases have 1000 great sites but one bad one and that is the one that gets rated.The first product to get ratings will by and large make it extremely difficult for other equivalent products in the same marketplace to get traction. Potential customers will typically be presented with the highly rated products first and this prevents other products, which may in fact be better, from being given a fair chance at the sale.If products are continually beaten by others in the marketplace because of their "first to market" ratings, then there is no incentive for them to remain in the marketplace and as such you loose the developer and your ecosystem looses a potential solution.
This is not to say that all products are equal or that some should not be forced out of the market, but it does suggest that this is not the responsibility of a ratings engine to decide.
As an alternative, the following could be used:Rich Content:All products in the marketplace should have rich content which properly showcases its features, benefits and successes. This content can include customer stories, public relations, product videos, vertical market solutions, brochures and downloads.Developer Programs:Define minimum standards through your ISV programs that dictate the status required in order to publish products in the marketplace.Developer Profile:Awards, years in business, number of customers, areas of expertise and the developer membership status can be used to profile the developer as an organization.
Although a bit more effort is required, there are many ways to properly provide relevant and rich information to customers so that they can make a quality purchase decision without risking the potential dangers of relying on a rating.
© Saxum Commerce
With cloud, mobile, social and big data advances all happening at once and at lightning speed, how will shifts in technology impact the way software businesses are run?Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, recently made a prediction that three key areas will change everything. These three areas are:
- Data analytics will drive business decisions- Social Networks will impact on value delivery- Individuals will no longer be aggregated
Here is a look at how these may affect the modern software vendor.
Data Analytics – “business decisions and opportunity creation”
As potential customers use technology more and more in their assessment and purchasing processes as opposed to traditional face-to-face sales relationships, so the use of data will become more important to understand markets, drive content delivery and to predict futures.
© Saxum Commerce
While In-App purchasing is a growing and successful sales channel in the mobile consumer world, is it a viable strategy for enterprise software vendors?To keep this article in context, we will define an enterprise system as one where it is in use by a business and there are 5 or more users of the application.Well the jury is out on this … and based on early evaluations, with the different drivers surrounding enterprise software, it is unlikely to be as effective. What is more, if this is done at the exclusion of having a traditional product marketplace, then the sales model is more of a risk than an opportunity to the vendor.Here are some of the reasons why:New deals: For new customers that do not currently have any of the vendors products they cannot do any In-App purchasing as they have no App in which to do it! Where the solution requires a mix of products of the vendor and add-on products, then a marketplace rich in content and information is essential for any hope of selling to this customer.The purchase process: At the time that an application is required, there is typically a requirements process that is completed. Once done, then a search and evaluation exercise will get underway from which a purchase decision would be made and the internal purchase workflow would come into play. This does not augment In-App as a sales channel.Who makes the decision: The user is, in most cases, not the person that will be making the decision about a purchase and is also not likely to be the person looking for new functionality. As such, the In-App adverts are wasted on this user.Trusted advisors: Where the enterprise uses a vendor’s partner for their purchases, implementation and support, they will in most cases turn to them as their trusted advisor for assistance in finding, selecting and purchasing new applications.Volume: Typically, In-App adverts deliver products relevant to the section of the system in which the user is currently working. Any number of products could be available to enhance this part of the system and so the sheer volume and lack of the ability to filter this based on the users defined requirements would render the adverts ineffective. It is likely that the user would still navigate to a content rich marketplace to exercise a selection process.A frustrating distraction: If there is an “off” button, it is highly likely that users will turn off the distracting adverts. If there is no “off” button, then it is likely that the help desk will be receiving a few calls to find a way of doing it.In-App purchases of enterprise solutions may generate some demand by catching the right user at the right time with the right message but given the challenges, would need to co-exist with other sales channels and models and is unlikely to be the model that actually generates the enterprise add-on application sale.
© Saxum Commerce
For Business Software Vendors, the need to implement a more encompassing ecommerce solution is becoming more prevalent every day.
This is being driven by a changing landscape in which the industry is seeing new sales channels, new deployment methods, new revenue drivers and new business models which in turn are affecting the rest of the business operations including marketing, channel management and accounting.
Once the vendor has recognized their need for an ecommerce solution to manage their changing business, they then face the challenge of figuring out which of the myriad of options out there best suites their business.
This is especially difficult for vendors that have an established and complex ecosystem of resellers, ISVs, end-users, distributors and skilled resources as the ecommerce solution selected needs to keep these entities involved in the transactions.
The following chart shows the types of ecommerce features needed by a channel focused vendor and the ability of different types of systems to deliver them.
© Saxum Commerce
While the promise of new and large revenue streams for business software vendors is driving huge investment into developing cloud strategies it seems that there is much being overlooked in the process.
Building the cloud product strategy is just the starting point with a number of areas being sorely neglected and which will come back to haunt technology executives in the near term
As a part of a comprehensive roll-out, the following represents some of the items that should be addressed …
Most vendors will have existing legacy customers that will take time to cross over to cloud and there will still be a substantial demand from new customers that wish to stay with on-premise solutions.
The challenge here is how to build a hybrid sales channel that caters for both cloud and on-premise customers and where the customer can engage in an individualistic way.
© Saxum Commerce
So you are a small or medium sized software vendor and with tough competition out there you need to be perceived to be bigger and better to close more deals.Well if ever there was a reason to embrace the web trend for SMB software, this is definitely one of them. Business is becoming more and more comfortable with finding, selecting and procuring solutions on-line. The argument about traditional sales processes requiring trusted advisers to hold the customer’s hand from start to finish is becoming myth rather than reality … although many software vendors still find it hard to believe that the world has moved forward.Sure, in many cases, there is a need for the channel in both the sale and implementation of SMB software but they are getting involved much later in the sales cycle and customers are looking for products that do not require the same intense levels of channel or direct involvement as was needed in the past.We just have to look to the stellar growth that many “new age” SMB software providers like Xero, Box, Intacct, Salesforce.com and others are seeing to understand that the demand is there and that SMB software vendors need to embrace the trend and move their businesses in that direction.So, apart from product, here are a few pointers that should be considered to help make your business more competitive.Get active with SEO: If you want to be found this is essential and it does not have to burden you unduly. There are many great tools out there that are inexpensive and easy to use and with minimal time and effort will enhance your profile immensely.Give your website a revamp: This is the first perception that a prospective customer will have of your business. Use an open source CMS system, add a standard off the shelf professional template, convert your existing content into your new CMS and you are up and running.Add new quality content: More than 75% of an SMB's purchase decision is based on the information available on which to base his decision. By providing both quality and quantity content, the potential to sell grows exponentially.Implement an ecommerce solution: There are many studies that show how a multi-channels sales approach and a frictionless purchasing process can substantially increase sales. By implementing an ecommerce solution you can both add a new sales channel and simplify the purchase process for the customer.
© Saxum Commerce
Software businesses are being affected by the growing demand for:Subscription billingMulti-channel sales models including In-App, Web and ChannelMultiple product deployment types such as SaaS, Mobile and On-PremiseWeb merchandising, marketing and promotionDelivering a better customer web experience
To achieve this, software vendors need an integrated ecommerce, marketplace and operational platform that would provide the relevant functionality to:Support multiple sales channels including on-line, direct, through partners and In-AppSell, track, manage and deploy on-premise, SaaS and mobile productsIncrease Sales through turning traffic to your website into customers by delivering a rich environment where prospects can find, review, test and purchase productsCreate new sales opportunities by using "big data" to identify trends, user interest and merchandising effectivenessProcess subscription billing and payment collection for your SaaS and Hosted solutions together with billing your legacy Annual Maintenance FeesCreate a Marketplace ("App Store") of both your products and those of your ISVs to assist your channel and customers in building comprehensive solutions quickly and easilyProvide a rich Resource Library of technical, marketing and downloadable contentAutomate Notifications for support, marketing and merchandising events delivered directly to your ecosystem as well as to social networksGive your ecosystem the tools they need to make transacting with you simple yet comprehensive through highly functional self-help portalsKeep your partners engaged by ensuring they are involved in relevant sales transactions no matter which sales channel drives the deal and automate multiparty splits on these transactionsMake it easy for your customers to find suitably qualified systems integrators, consultants and staff while creating new business opportunities for your channel through a Skills Market
© Saxum Commerce
Yosemite, Mountain Lions and Software Vendors I recently visited Yosemite National Park and was at awe with the immensity and beauty of it all. It was also a touch daunting at the thought of how big it seemed and how small I felt against it.I then came across an article in the Yosemite Guide publication, which got me thinking (please read the article “What should you do if you meet a mountain lion?” attached) … In our insignificant world of enterprise software we have our behemoths like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM. They are all-powerful and will be around forever, taking control of the world below them. You just have to look at the struggling HP to see how these entities can survive massive disruption.These organizations could be seen as the Mountains of Yosemite.However, our world of business software has Mountain Lions who can hunt and by being agile, smart and hungry can find a space where they can flourish and build great success. By embracing change and in many cases creating disruption of their own, they carve out of the rock a sector that they can own and grow. Some great examples of this would be Salesforce.com, Box, Xero, Atlassian and Splunk.Then there are the small un-funded software businesses with great people and ideas but are still finding their way. These businesses can be successful by following in the footsteps of other startups and by transitioning from the “hunted” to being a Mountain Lion. These small businesses need to do everything they can to be perceived as being stronger than they are. The web has delivered to them the best opportunity ever to “fight back” and to be seen as a relevant entity.By using the ecommerce (subscription billing, marketplaces, portals), social marketing (LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs) and web hype (“if it is on the web it must be true”), any business can create a presence and attract new opportunities. Just look at the explosion of subscription and mobile solution demand and it is easy to see how a small software vendor can take advantage of a disruptive environment.Besides creating great products, smaller software vendors can use technology to grow their own businesses and should be actively embracing those web tools that can help them achieve it.Of course many of these ideas will still fail because not every idea can be a winner and because not everyone can effectively execute but even those that fail can still have their moment of fame through the web.From a different perspective, for this exact reason and from the consumer perspective, they have to be careful how they select their “web” suppliers … but that is a different topic.
© Saxum Commerce
For those vendors that rely on their channels to go to market, there is the challenge of motivating them to adopt new business, deployment and revenue models.
In this post, we look at some of the challenges being faced and solutions to them.
In the past a license would be sold, the customer would pay a lump sum fee and the partner would take 30% of the proceeds.
The license fee, if we were to ignore annual maintenance fees for this purpose, represented the lifetime value of the deal and all parties involved would share in it.
© Saxum Commerce
Business software vendors like Sage, Microsoft, SAP and most others are slowly growing their direct-to-consumer model. It just so happens that these consumers are businesses. A few of the factors driving this shift includes:Consumer experience – businesses are run by people and the experiences that these people have had with their consumer purchases is driving their perception and expectation of business transacting.Technology - it is much easier today for a vendor to deliver a rich experience through new technology like SaaS and mobile.Revenue and margins – these new technologies open the opportunity to migrate existing customers and to attract new customers into recurring revenue models, which deliver substantial margins.
However, to continue to deliver enhanced functionality and high levels of local services, it is essential that the vendor keep their current ecosystem of value added resellers and independent software vendors (“ISVs”) engaged. Were this not to happen, the vendor’s business could be substantially negatively affected.
To deliver a direct-to-consumer model and at the same time deliver a consistent experience for the customer and keep the ecosystem fully engaged is going to add substantial demands on the systems used by software vendors as legacy systems generally do not have the features needed to achieve this.
Consider that if a customer needs a SaaS solution that comprises the vendor product plus two ISV products to build a solution and they are using a reseller to assist with the project to take the system live.
Then, if a suitable system is not in use by the vendor, the customer would need to make purchase decisions on multiple websites, have 3 different recurring billing transactions (if the ISVs have acceptable systems as well!) and have 3 different payment transactions. What about the reseller that is entitled to a commission on the sale?
© Saxum Commerce