What is the best way to sell software to businesses in a niche industry?

By Pattie Simone

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I run a small company that develops and supports a software application for a niche business market. When I do a sales presentation to clients I often simply provide a demonstration of the software (trying to cover all aspects of the software). However, we're starting to lose more and more sales to our competitors and I'm sure it's because our sales presentation needs to be stronger. I would appreciate any help on how a sales pitch for business software should be approached.
This a great question, as there are many businesses faced with the same dilemma.

When you are losing sales, it's important to look at everything, including: your operations, the entire sales process, the team that interacts with clients and prospects, your marketing materials, your customer service, your fine print, your pricing and--last but not least--the actual product capabilities. This is the only way you can truly identify rough spots or missing links.

If you do all this and it still appears that the presentation style, content, and subsequent follow-up are the major source of this disconnect, here are some tips for getting your sales engine humming,

First: Do your materials look top-notch? Is the copy professionally written, using a blend of technical data and lively marketing prose? Is the information clear and, more important, does it succinctly detail the benefits of the software, with glowing testimonials from different clients?
Does it list any specific clients that are impressive or well-known industry leaders?

Second: In the presentation itself, do you engage the prospect with specific questions about their needs, providing on-the-spot answers on how your software can make them more productive, save them money, etc? Have you taken a good look at your style, image and tone? Are you too pushy, too timid, or are you spending too much time talking and not enough time listening? All these factors can make or break developing a great dialogue, which is the start of the journey that leads to a solid sale.

To wrap up: Selling is a process. If you are truly interested in developing long-term clients who sing your praises, you've gotta know it takes time for people to develop trust. If your product is up to snuff and you work to develop a rapport, rather than just delivering a rote, one-size-fits-all presentation (with timely and respectful follow-up), you're bound to start seeing better results.

Best of luck in your endeavors,
Pattie Simone
Pattie Simone

Digital Adventurer, Profit Alchemist, Entrepreneur

As president of Pomona, N.Y.-based marketing-advantage and founder of WomenCentric, Pattie Simone empowers ambitious companies, individuals and entrepreneurs, helping them to develop strategic, integrated, well-branded communications that engage diverse audiences and fuel sales.

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