I seem to be having a number of conversations with software vendors in the past six months. Sometimes, we’ll get to the part of the conversation where the software vendor wonders why their product isn’t selling as well as someone else’s.
The conversation tends to start innocently-enough, where we’re just chatting about what we’re both doing. Then, having gotten comfortable in the conversation with me, the software vendor will sometimes say to me something like, “So, our technology is as-good-as/better-than/much-superior to our competition and they’re selling a lot more than us. Why is that?”
This is a tricky question but, in the cases where some software vendor has asked me, directly, the success of the two software brands in question has come down to the fact that, while some products probably are actually better than others, having great sales and marketing makes a big difference.
But let’s backtrack just a bit: each of us gets attached to our product, whether it’s a software product or a services product. Most or all of us really do think we’re doing it, best. Sometimes, it’s not actually true. So, that’s the first thing to consider.
But even when it is actually true, sales figures aren’t necessarily a function of how good a product is. We’ve seen horrible products do well in our industry. Sometimes, there’s just no competition in a certain sector. But where the sector is bombarded with products, those with the best marketing and sales tend to do the best. We sometimes talk about “word of mouth” and “organic” ways to get products accepted by customers but I don’t believe I’ve seen any product in our industry succeed without plenty of strong sales and marketing.
With that said, what do the small companies do? Should they hang their head and go jump off a bridge, product in-hand? No. Some of them will figure out ways to get their foot in the door with customers and will succeed, despite the competition against them. It’s a hard road but companies do find ways to succeed at this.