Software Executive Magazine

February/March 2018

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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Why Choosing A Smaller Niche Is The Best Business Decision You'll Ever Make Is your software company suffering from "We Can Sell This To Anyone" syndrome? M A R K S O K O L VP, Corporate & Solutions Marketing, ConnectWise weeks. These larger customers want additional capa- bilities, and your consultants are spending time creat- ing workarounds. PRODUCT – You started out being the product manag- er. Now you have a team working across marketing and sales and reacting to the shift toward larger deals. The product road maps have been adjusted to address areas of product weakness for these larger opportunities. In short, your previous laser focus has splintered, and you have allowed your sales team to move off into too many different directions. Even worse, you've lost mo- mentum with your core target audience because they don't know who you are anymore. THE PROBLEM: "WE CAN SELL THIS TO ANYONE" SYNDROME If the scenario I just described sounds familiar, you're in good company. Geoffrey Moore talks about this idea in detail in his essential book, Crossing The Chasm, and its companion book, Inside the Tornado. If you're in the technology industry and you haven't read these books, stop reading this article and go order them (I'm seri- ous!). The concepts described in these books over 20 years ago have helped thousands of businesses and have stood the test of time. According to Moore, "the chasm" is a rite of passage for every business. It's the gap between a strong beginning and true, long-term he early successes were exciting, but you have a nagging feeling there is something missing. Despite doing everything you thought was right, your lofty growth pro- jections for the coming year appear to be at risk. The latest deals that sales brought in the past year have experienced onboarding challenges, and your abil- ity to acquire referenceable accounts is getting difficult. Your momentum appears to have slowed down. Unfor- tunately, sales blames marketing, and marketing points back to sales. Yesterday, marketing and sales joined forces and began pointing fingers at the onboarding team. You just spoke with that team, and they attribute the problem to product. So, you begin taking inventory. Where did you go wrong? You think back over the past year or two and notice some trends: SALES – As the company added head count (including that sales leader), you began to focus on CEO activities. As sales targets increased, sales began shifting their at- tention to larger deals. These larger deals were "almost" a fit, but not exactly your original target customer. MARKETING – Since you started the marketing depart- ment, you know that the messaging was spot-on (you drafted the first few documents). However, marketing has adjusted activity to find larger prospects. ONBOARDING – The time it takes to bring on new customers has shifted to months, when it used to be T Maybe this sounds familiar: You're a successful software entrepreneur. You worked with one customer, identified its biggest problem, solved it, and looked for others like them that had that same problem. Today, you have great traction finding new customers and generating revenue. Success did not happen immediately; it developed over time as you added great technical talent, found that all-star sales leader, and al- lowed your emerging marketing team to initiate broad-scale marketing activities. SELLING AND MARKETING framework By M. Sokol WHY CHOOSING A SMALLER NICHE IS THE BEST BUSINESS DECISION YOU'LL EVER MAKE SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 38

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