As software developers and product owners, you spend months or years developing the perfect software to offer to a client.  When pitching this software to a client though, you have to be aware of some serious sales 101 rules so that you aren’t messing up the deal.  You know what your software can and can’t do, you know who your software will work for and who it won’t, and somehow when you’re sitting in front of a potential client –a whole host of things can go wrong.  So, what do you need to know to sell the software that you’ve developed?

First, don’t be a “yes man” –sell what you have in inventory.  What?  Well, think of it this way.  It’s easy to promise a potential client the moon and the stars. It’s harder to sell the client exactly what you have.  Sure, your product has limitations.  Yes, it’s easy to want to be the “yes man”.  Don’t do it though.  In direct sales, you’re selling what you have in inventory.  What you have in stock and on the shelves is what you are trying to get customers to buy.  Maybe you have the top of the line most expensive something on the market, but it’s on back order and it will take 6 months to get here.  Sell what you have.

In terms of software design, yes, maybe you can tweak this or change that to make it exactly what the customer dreams of.  But that’s a lot of work and a long way out.  Sell what you have. Selling software is about convincing them that what you have is what meets their needs.  Sell the features that you have in your system and not future things that you COULD do.  Be clear about what you have vs what you intend for the system to do.

You certainly don’t want to over sell and under deliver.

From Common Sales Mistakes:

When a potential customer makes a request, you naturally want to say “yes”. And once you say yes a few times, you’ll realize that you’re walking down a slippery slope because the customer will keep making requests. Each one of those requests will not only cost you money, but it will also let the customer know that he or she can be demanding and walk all over you.

If what a customer wants is profitable to you and you can deliver, say yes. If the request is unreasonable, say no. By setting this precedent early on, you’ll have more happy customers.

Another important factor to remember when selling your software is that you shouldn’t over explain.  You don’t want to confuse potential clients.  The more unnecessary information you offer people the more confused they will become or the more likely they will be to hear something that they’re not exactly sure about.  Be clear and concise in your description of your software.  By all means, answer questions, but don’t tell them more than what they need to know.  You don’t want to bore them and you don’t want to say something that really doesn’t fit well with their plans.

Selling software isn’t easy, but neither is developing it.  If you’ve come up with a great product, work just as hard to sell it to the right clients. 

What have your experiences been as a software developer or product owner in selling your software? What are some things that people should avoid?  Common mistakes? Comment below!