Eric Sink writes about the “function of proactive sales in a small ISV” and a situation which we (and other software companies) face regularly:
At some point in the many activities of a small independent software vendor (ISV), the customer trades money for software. No column on “The Business of Software” could be complete without some discussion of this magical event.
I’ll start by defining some of my terminology. Before the customer makes the purchase, I like to say that there is a “gap”. This gap is the distance between the prospective customer and your product, and it looks something like this:
Product ——————————– Customer
In order for the sale to occur, this gap must be closed. Until that happens, the gap represents all of the issues and obstacles that are preventing the customer from making the purchase:
The customer has never heard of your product.
The customer doesn’t know enough about your product.
Your product is too expensive.
The customer needs two levels of management approval for the purchase.
Your product lacks a feature the customer needs.
Your product doesn’t interoperate with the customer’s other stuff.
Your product isn’t mature enough to meet the customer’s expectations.
To continue to exist as a business, your small ISV must find a way to close this gap, over and over again. There are exactly two ways to close the gap:
Move your product to the right. Tell the world about your product. Make your product better so that people will want to buy it.
Move your customer to the left. Find people who might want your product. Convince them to buy it.