Atlantic Crossing Digital Consulting

How a truly great software product may be a problem

In the latest blog post below we discussed what it takes to be a good salesperson of a ground-breaking software product. In this context we’ll interpret the term “software” broadly, meaning licensed pc products, server products, subscription-model Software-as-a-Service products, etc.

We concluded that being a good salesperson takes an unusual stack of skills:

  1. Domain expertise in the prospect’s business to formulate and relate the challenge.
  2. Financial insight to demonstrate ROI if the problem is solved.
  3. Technical insight to understand how the product category solves the challenge.
  4. Product knowledge of the specific product to apply the relevant features, those that benefit the prospect in question, and only those, to the discussion.
  5. The visionary or “evangelical” personality skills to install confidence in the prospect.
  6. The “normal” sales skills to close a deal.

So, contrary to one’s immediate thinking, the more competition a product has, the easier it is to sell – assuming a person skilled in sales techniques. Yes, there’s more head-to-head selling, beating each other up on speeds-and-feeds as well as on terms and pricing.

But the educational effort is probably not needed at all as the prospect already understands the product and its benefits well, and he’s probably also able to calculate the financial benefits in terms of ROI (Return on Investment). That broadly takes care of items 1-3 in the list above, and in a very mature market, probably also of item 4.

With only items 5 and 6 left as requirements, the pool of available talent becomes quite large and finding the “right” salespersons is a manageable process. Whereas the pool of talent covering all 6 items ranges from small to non-existent, depending on the product and the size and maturity of the prospects’ industry and/or function.

Hence, a truly great software product that takes care of previously unsolved challenges, and one “without competition,” may indeed present an often insurmountable problem when it comes to finding even “good enough” salespersons.

Whether you call it “Crossing the Chasm” or “Commercialization Challenges” the problem remains very real to thousands of software development companies.

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