If you deliver software development services that can also include mobile app promotion, consulting, UI and UX design, you might have asked yourself the following questions: “How can I sell software online and increase revenue?”, “How should I organize the work of sales and marketing managers to raise the conversion rate?”.
In this article, I will share my experience and thoughts of what helps YSBM Group successfully attract leads and sign contracts with our customers. I will intentionally skip projects that we receive from our regular partners, keeping only brand new cases transformed from a 'cold state' into the agreement.
Note: This article focuses on small and medium-size software houses, design and digital marketing agencies with flat and relatively simple sales processes. The approach we offer may not suit large software development companies, although the listed recommendations can be beneficial for any software development sales pipeline.
What is a unique selling proposition (USP)?
Open any article about selling services online and almost the first thing you will see are talks about USP as an important element of success. A unique selling proposition, also known as a unique selling point or unique value proposition (UVP) is what differentiates your product/services/company from competitors. For instance, a set of app features, or advantages (e.g., 24/7 support), or your approach to business.
During my career, I noticed that the words “offer”/“proposition” and “USP” are often confused. The first means a special offer for a specific period, adjusting to certain criteria. Say, you suggest providing 1-year project maintenance 24/7 after release. USP is about your positioning on the market. It is the permanent value that you provide your customers with.
How to create a USP for selling services online
As every expert says that every organization must have a USP for selling service online, now all vendors have 'unique' USPs claiming they 'build any digital solution on time, on budget, on scope', 'make client businesses more profitable’ or something similar to that.
What I am trying to say here that it is almost impossible to make a truly unique offer on the software development market because it is bespoke and differs from project to project. Also, it is even more challenging when you don’t have a narrow specialization like we, for example.
Surely, a team may use deep technical expertise but only partially as every new system has a different business setup, requirements, design, and logic specificity. Furthermore, this expertise may get partially outdated due to fast technological progress.
So, how can you stand out from rivals and attract customers? How to sell your services online and advertise a software company right? Here is what you should do:
- analyze your target audience
- define why customers turn to your software house, why they retain
- conduct a competitor analysis to identify their strengths and weaknesses
- answer the question “Why should clients choose your product/organization when there are numerous alternatives?”
- provide high-quality services from the first touch with a potential customer.
Couple more key questions that you should also answer are:
- Whether your software experts can deliver at all?
- What shows their competence?
- Is your software development company selling on the internet at the moment?
Perhaps, these steps won’t allow you to create a unique USP. As I said, it is hard. But it will help your company show its strong sides and explain the value, differentiating from thousands of similar propositions.
The 6 best tips for selling software services online
To help you sell services online, I’ve prepared a list of meaningful recommendations:
- Offer your customers something for free. For example, a free trial to try your product in action, or consultation free of charge, or free access to system updates.
- Create a modern website that will display your services, allow the user to contact your company and check out your portfolio.
- Include a video of how your product or team works. Job interviews and/or an approach explanation can be also in use.
- Show potential clients that you understand their pain points. You can provide them with stories and use cases, describing how software facilitated the life of employees in another company, how it automated workflows and helped increase revenue.
- Employ third-party review and rating websites such as Clutch and GoodFirms. These platforms verify each testimonial, so that businesses can easily choose a reliable IT service vendor.
- Offer 24/7 support. Resolving client issues even on weekends despite time differences, you will gain a competitive advantage.
Our strategy of selling software development
What approach do we employ to explain the provided value for selling services online? At YSBM Group, we use a combination of the following elements:
- A well-designed website with a convenient structure that allows perceiving our company as one that cares for user experience. A modern web design shows that we can create quality digital products that ensure consistency on all devices and platforms.
- Case studies that serve as proofs of successful projects that we’ve already delivered. The more detailed information you provide, the better. Potential customers can see what challenges we faced and how our team managed to address them.
- Customer feedback. It is very important to have testimonials that describe how clients felt about working with you, what tasks they resolved with our assistance, whether they are satisfied with the result, etc. This way, the credibility of potential partners increases.
- In some cases, having a list of web and mobile technologies that we use also helped us sell software development services. However, this point is not decisive and depends on your target audience.
- A personalized approach to each customer. Projects differ by its goals, timeline, intended value, target audience, etc. For instance, analyzing client needs, we define should we start with MVP developer or it will be more reasonable to create a proof of concept (PoC) first.
A unique selling proposition in our company
As I mentioned before, we do not have a narrow specialization, which is why anything that we put as the key slogan on the main page doesn’t show all our strong sides. Certainly, if your company has a very accurate speciality, you would probably target your audience with a good USP in this business domain to successfully sell software online.
Next, when some prospects get interested in cooperation with you and reach you out, it is very important to start delivering as much quality and professionalism as possible.
In our sales process, these points worked well:
1) Prompt answer. Our average time of answering the incoming request is less than 1 hour during a workday, which engages a potential customer into a meaningful conversation.
2) The right person as a first contact. This step is very important for both qualifying a lead and delivering professional responses. You can’t afford to answer a request with a small competence level. Your possible client must feel that he or she communicates with a skilled professional who is ready to provide real assistance, not just formal answers.
3) Top-notch offer. When the client asks about estimation or more information about how we are going to work on her/his project we proceed differently in different cases. Sometimes our engineers prepare a rough estimation with a list of modules to be delivered, sometimes it is just one number with a final quotation and a simplified structure of future work.
As my experience shows, the best tool is a well-designed presentation that includes all important business-related sides of the future project. It provides a customer with an understanding of high-level technical aspects of the system, tools to be used, deliverables, versions of work schedule, and budgeting options with its differences.
4) Next steps. When everything is done properly, nothing else is left except to agree on details and start working. To speed up the process, I usually suggest the next possible step and ask a potential customer for a feedback.
When I feel that the client still needs something to cover the risks of cooperating with an unknown contractor, I suggest passing a fast test work on one of her/his project tasks. Therefore, both our team and the customer can make sure we are the right match.
5) First deliverables. Many companies consider the sales process is finished after a contract is signed and the work is transferred to the software development team. I am sure that is the wrong vision.
The main(initiation) phase of a sales process ends only when your new client saw the first results of your team’s work, accepts and pays for it. Only then you may let loose supervision and pass further responsibility to the project management and engineering team.
Remember about checking out the progress and customer satisfaction rate as new work could be signed under proper circumstances and right communication. Reputation also matters.
When selling custom software development, keep in mind that every client has different needs behind the intention to build a mobile or web system. Analyze business-specific objectives and help achieve them by delivering the required scope of a work at the agreed time. As a result, you will receive positive feedback, gratitude, and recommendations.
How we can help you
Here at YSBM Group, we can assist you in the following issues:
- Making time and budget estimations, preparing a software requirements document.
- Creating a clickable prototype and designing a website or application.
- Developing and testing a software solution, debugging, deployment.
- Consulting on the technology stack, software system architecture, pricing models, etc.
Feel free to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or +48 505 012 322 to start conversation.
Frequently asked questions on selling software online
What is a unique selling proposition?
A USP, also referred to as a unique value proposition (UVP) or a unique selling point, is a set of features that differentiates your products/services from others.
How do I create a USP to advertise my company?
To prepare a USP, you need to analyze your customers, competitors, as well as your strong and weak sides. Learn why your clients have chosen your company, what advantages of cooperation with your company they can emphasize, why they would retain you if necessary. For this purpose, you can just email your clients and ask to fill out a feedback form.
Why should I develop a website?
A website will allow you to display a range of goods or services you deliver, show a USP, describe your strategy, advantages, and portfolio. You can offer customers the opportunity to contact your team via a chat or contact form with one click.
How much does it cost to build a custom website?
On average, the cost of creating a custom website is $10,000-$150,000 depending on various factors such as project size, complexity, type and region of a software development contractor.
How can I improve the quality of customer service?
There are many ways that you can use to increase customer satisfaction. Think how your company can improve the existing processes, for example, communications between leads/clients and sales managers.
For instance, you can incorporate a chatbot that will answer various questions and provide 24/7 support. By reducing the website page load speed, you will attract more visitors. Or you can offer something free of charge, say, a free trial to try your product.