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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Enteprise Software Sales,Opensource Aid In Sales & Do Developers Matter In Sales Cycle

Ed Sim writes referring to Jonathan Schwartz's article about the nature of developers,&why building a relationship with them is key to creating opportunities. Ed Sim writes,referring to a friend's conversation Developers don't buy things, they join things and adds,"The key, however, for any small company is to do this economically and efficiently". Many companies selling into enterprises end up going through some "pilot" or "beta" period where a sales prospect's developers and technologists get to use the software and deploy it on a trial basis. When a chief executive looks at a sales pipeline, he would always want to know who in the organization the company is selling into and why.More often than not it is seen that a number of early stage companies selling into enterprises but not selling high enough to the people with budget. The vendor spends an inordinate amount of time reaching out to the developer or technologist to set up a pilot and then leaves with no defined criteria on when the pilot ends and how it automatically converts into a sale.. The developer uses the product,uses lot of time and resources, and moves on to the next new technology. Ed writes with the advent of opensource technology ,"try before you buy" approach may work if users can download the software for free either on a trial basis, say 90 days, or if you open source a version of your product and build a real community

My Take: Ed Sim's post is too broad and wide regarding open source as a method to increase product acceptance. While it is agreed that developers are important for selling certain types of mundane software like utilities, dev tools, app servers, etc, are they important part of the sales process for enterprise applications?.The answer is a definite NO. The question is - should an enterprise product open-source their products to allow for developers install , configure and try with it? No. Enterprise products are sold based on vale propositions that would cover amongst other things – stability and maturity of product, product fit to adapt to various business processes, pricing and TCO etc. Business improvements matter a lot more when the product has become mature with a number of installations and good support framework in place. The idea for opensource may be good for desktop related software or some maintenance related software, entertainment software like games, utility tools like anti-spyware, messaging software and infrastructure software like- app server, database servers, email servers, messaging middleware. These are all product types where a developer could influence a small deal at any enterprise – small or large. Sales and Account management should focus on continually mapping the account – mapping influencers, buyers, naysayers, decision shy ditherers.

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