Software sales often feels like riding a roller coaster. While ups and downs are a natural part of the process, it’s not always easy to hang on when factors beyond your control strongly influence your ability to sell. The macroeconomic context is forcing companies to constantly re-evaluate budgets to reduce costs, and unless the investment in software is absolutely necessary, it can often fall off their list of priorities.
Here’s the thing: you still need to sell! So what can you do to continue growing your sales pipeline during tough economic times? Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Sustained Education and Nurturing is Essential
Consistency over time is the only way to create lasting change. The same goes for building a brand for your company that people recognize. Sustained efforts to educate and nurture prospects through always-on marketing efforts that are holistic and omnichannel are the only way to achieve that. When marketing campaigns are done in a silo and become a one-off method to quickly generate leads, the impact is short-lived. By regularly creating and promoting valuable content that your prospects can learn from and enjoy, you will build a pipeline of followers who will appreciate what you have to offer them; this, in turn, will help you convert more top-of-the-funnel leads into paying customers.
OEM Your Product
The biggest trend for software companies these days is to create an OEM offer geared towards other ISVs. In fact, it’s become a kind of Eldorado for independent software vendors. The integration effort to embed your features into another ISV product is a one-time investment, but the licensing kick-backs go on for years to come. In fact, it’s the perfect way to increase your sales revenue without having to do any of the selling work yourself. Having successful OEM deals can also help you leverage other types of business opportunities including important technology partnerships, or enhanced relationships with VARs and MSPs. You may even be able to build out end-user deals for your own product by targeting your partner’s customers directly in certain instances. OEM programs can take on many shapes and forms (ranging from simple APIs to white-labeling, to full-out embedded integration), so it’s important to clearly communicate the type of partnership you are offering to your target audience. Growing the OEM side of your business can quickly become your largest revenue driver, so it’s absolutely worth investing in the development of this strategy.
Focus on Up-sale and Cross-sales
Putting an emphasis on excellent customer service to ensure up-sale and cross-sales within your existing clients is another sure-fire way to continue doing business during uncertain economic times. If your customers are loyal because they are overjoyed with your product or service, they will stick with you through thick and thin. And they will become your best advocates by spreading the word to their colleagues and peers. The impact that word-of-mouth marketing can have is nonnegligible so don’t underestimate the power that good customer service can have on your ability to sell. This is especially true when you target larger-sized/enterprise accounts that may have dozens of different departments, business units, or subsidiary companies that you can also do business with. It’s a lot easier to do more business with an existing customer than it is to convince a net-new prospect to do business with you at all, so focusing on this area is key.
Go After the Low-Hanging Fruit
When designing any new marketing or sales outreach initiative, it’s important to determine which target audience needs your product the most right now. By identifying the “low-hanging fruit” (the prospects that are most likely to purchase quickly), you can find faster-converting opportunities in the short run. Taking a direct approach with these prospects will yield higher sales results; by highlighting the pain points your solution resolves with a case study demonstrating your success with a similar type of customer, you will quickly grab their attention and get the ball rolling. Hosting a webinar can be a great way for you to speak to many of such prospects at once so that you can accompany them down the sales funnel efficiently.
Up-level Your Skill-Set
If you feel like your sales efforts are stagnant and you’re not making progress, it could be that you need to improve your lead generation skills. I often hear people say, “I’ve tried everything but nothing is working.” But have you really tried everything or have you just gotten to the end of your skill-set? Getting outside of your comfort zone by trying new pitches, strategies and tactics, or by experimenting and doing something radically different is often exactly what is needed to kick-start your engine. Because of Covid, online learning offers have taken off—you can literally access hundreds of courses to acquire new sales and marketing outreach techniques. It’s important to regularly tap into such resources so that you continue to grow and evolve your skills over time.
While economic uncertainty can cause anxiety for many people, it’s important to remember that such downturns are cyclical and won’t last forever. By implementing these tips, you should be able to ride the wave and create marketing campaigns that work to sustain sales for your software products despite a tough economy.