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14 Tips for Selling Software and Services Online

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Feb. 15, 2013
Software--whether sold as a service (SaaS) or via CD or DVD--is a multibillion-dollar business, with new vendors and solutions popping up all the time. In a recent Market Trends forecast, Gartner predicted SaaS and cloud-based business application services alone would reach $32.2 billion in sales by 2016.

5. Include a video of how your product works. "Have a one- to two-minute video explaining your product or service," someplace obvious on your Website, advises Alex Capehart, vice president of Strategic Accounts at hosting service Media Temple. "Animation is great for a simple product breakdown, and a video of employees can give a human side to a technical service folks might not understand. It works great for us and engagement is high!"

6. Show customers you understand their pain. "Whether it's telling stories to highlight how your software makes life easier, or alleviating fearful or cautious emotions that come with a potentially substantial investment by providing valuable information, creating human connections around your product is a powerful way to stand out against the competition," says Seth Lieberman, the CEO of SnapApp, a marketing platform for creating interactive content to drive leads and engagement.

7. Include product feature/benefit comparison tables. Including "product feature and benefit comparison tables, which that show your product in the best light, is essential," says David Howard, a principle at marketing firm Consultiq. "They summarize in an easy to read format the tradeoffs that a buyer has to consider in the purchase cycle. So long as you have a competitive offering, there's no reason to be afraid to do this."

8. Solicit independent third-party reviews. "Anyone can tell you their products are worth buying, so it is best to have an honest third party referral," says Jennifer Borun, senior marketing director, GoingOn Networks, a developer of social collaboration and communication solutions for higher education. "Encouraging your customers to tell their story of why they selected your product and how it meets their challenge is the best way to get your message out and sell your product. You can capture these stories in case studies, an interactive online forum or blog postings."

In addition, "try to get a well-respected publication to test your solution/offering," suggests Allan Thorvaldsen, CEO, Panorama9, a cloud-based IT management platform. "This will validate your product (if it is any good) and generate traffic towards your Website for no cost."

9. Offer a money-back guarantee. "Studies have shown that a trusted and well-presented money back guarantee can actually increase sales by up to 40 percent," says Stephen Dodd, CEO of OfficeTime.net, a developer of time tracking software. As for how long the guarantee should be for, Dodd suggests 120 days, which is what OfficeTime.net offers customers.

"A short guarantee makes it more likely the customer will take you up on it," Dodd says. "They feel a time pressure to cash in the guarantee before it's too late. With a long guarantee, the customer feels they have more time to make up their mind." Moreover, he says, "the longer the customer spends using your app, the more time they have to get to know you and fall in love with what you've created--and the less likely they will request a refund."

 

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