The future of software sales

December 17, 2021

Our blog this week talks about the future of software sales. Keep reading to find out how business value management can help you win in the new normal. 

The worldwide chaos during the pandemic sped up digital transformation across many companies. Working from home through the lockdowns has greatly changed businesses. Software sales, and how companies build trust with and target customers, is a whole new ball game (Gartner 2021). Nearly two years on from the first lockdowns, buyers and sellers have welcomed digital transformation with open arms. Software solutions are now a big part of many business workflows.  

Differentiation was already pretty tough for software companies and their customers; often, solutions are very similar. This means customers are forced to look beyond a product’s features when they make buying decisions. Sellers now need to take a fresh approach to influence their buyers and win in the new normal.  

As the driving force for most businesses in 2021, how will software sales fair in the years to come? Well, as disruptions continue, coming out on top will hinge on being fully equipped to weather the unpredictable storms ahead.  

Here’s how we see the future of software sales: 

1. Attaching value to your solution will be paramount

Continued social distancing measures in many countries and new virus variants emerging, suggest that having face-to-face meetings with customers is likely to be tricky for some time to come. In light of this, software vendors need a sturdy plan to reshape the customer journey. It is now more important than ever for vendors to look at how they manage sales and prove their value to prospective customers.  

The future of software sales will rely a lot more than ever before on value – on how companies show their worth. This is because attaching a measurable monetary value to a solution boosts vendors’ ability to reach and influence all the key decision makers, at different stages of the decision-making process. And it helps customers to know that they are making a great investment. 

Value selling needs to go beyond sales teams 

In the past, sales counted on heavy sales executive involvement – and required very little in the way of marketing. But after a whirlwind year or so, the future of software sales looks very different. Value management materials can help marketing teams to speed up the customer journey and grow engagement. Like it or not, the customer journey is changing. Sales tactics have been shifting fast. And now software vendors are moving towards a model where marketing staff connect with prospects to help create and grow leads.  

The role of salespeople will stay a key part. However, it is also really important that sellers get clear and impactful messages to their customers. And to achieve this, vendors need to fully embrace value management approaches right across the business. Basically, any employee in any department that might be delivering a message to customers or prospects, should all know about the benefits and value of the product they are selling.  

Value selling will help vendors to move software sales away from price 

Price is, of course, still one of the top decision influencers for most customers, in most industries. But when sellers can keep value at the centre and align with a target company’s strategic goals, it is so much easier to move away from how much a product will cost. This way, the price will always stay secondary to the value created.  

With value selling vendors won’t be tempting customers with something they have expressed no interest in whatsoever. Instead, they’ll have solutions for their pain points, in a way that makes sure they don’t think twice about purchasing the offering.  

Obviously, there are lots of different ways that vendors can ease customers’ investment worries. But what is not so obvious is that with value-selling you will face the fears of your customer along each step of the journey. This is even more true if the software solution has different levels, or subscriptions, as customers may have doubts at each level or price bracket.  

The main challenge for companies, in the months ahead, will be to make sure that health and safety measures stay in place for employees and customers, while maintaining and growing customer relationships. So, if software providers can focus their sales efforts on the value that their solution can bring, to show customers how they will meet their core needs and reduce their worries, they will place themselves in a much more rewarding situation.  

Unclear about why you should implement a value management approach to increase your sales in the software industry? Check out our earlier post. 

2.  Quickly building trust online will be the new normal  

With limited face-to-face interactions and ever-changing regulations, it is crucial to build trust quickly. And with the shifting working from home rules, since the worldwide lockdowns were introduced, this has become a tricky landscape to navigate.  

Companies across the globe have been learning how to build great relationships with their customers online. Selling over video calls is the new normal. And in the last eighteen months, what the customer journey looks like has changed beyond recognition. While individual and team personalities, and talking about product features and benefits, will still play their important parts, online sales are a different kettle of fish. And it is much easier for sales reps to sway customers if the points raised are backed up with a powerful and truthful statement about the solution’s suitability. This is the time to move away from price and giving out big discounts.  Now it’s time to keep the value a solution delivers at the centre, to boost customers’ confidence. Value selling will help vendors to open the doors to business decision makers in the new normal.  

Why will targeting the right people help?  

By speaking to the right people and aligning a product’s capabilities with the target company’s goals, the sale will rest on the most relevant data. The future of software sales will rely on getting the insights that are most likely to close the sale. Value selling is all about knowing exactly how a solution can help a company, and about having the numbers to back up the sale. The more salespeople know about the company and their needs, the more trust customers will have. To learn more about the ways that value management can help to build trust and reduce the discounts you dish out, read more here

3. The focus will be on customer retention 

Over the last year or so companies had to adapt their sales and marketing strategies to survive. And as we head towards the end of 2021, industries are still preparing for more months of uncertainty. Software providers are yet to find out how new business priorities have shifted customers’ software purchasing decisions for the years ahead. But what we know already, is that retaining customers (and renewing licences) will rest on proving the value delivered, over a lifetime. 

For software companies, the cost of winning a new customer is several times the cost of keeping an existing one. And with the current shifting rules and regulations, companies are focusing on retention strategies (Gartner). How to keep hold of existing customers has become a higher priority than winning new customers.  

So how can value management help? 

It is much easier to keep hold of customers by focusing on value. Value selling can show customers how much a product saves them over time. When the value of the solution is worked out against the customer’s goals, the conversation becomes a helpful one. And it steers conversations away from further discounts and lowers threats of customers leaving.  

In our recent experiences, when a company knows the solution they are being offered could really help them through these tough times, it is simple to move away from the cost of investment. It’s always better to focus on the gains and talk about how a product saves money and time, etc. When customers are hooked into the value story, selling them more products and services is easy, increasing their total value over a lifetime. 

4. Competition for new customers will be tough 

It is getting harder and harder to win customers in these times of ever-changing rules, with new variants emerging. And selling to new companies will become more of a challenge in mature markets where software solutions have already been adopted far and wide. A logical, value-based approach – targeting the right people from the word go – is the way to go.  

Here are two ways to help you win more new business: 

Solid branding and familiarity 

Customers today are more wary than ever before, which means they are favouring the brands they know over new or unknown brands. Such fierce competition has taken software vendors to places they couldn’t have even dreamed of. Branding is becoming ever-more important. Companies are being forced to spend time and money on branding activities to communicate their success stories and grow their customer bases. A key part of this will be to showcase the value of a product or solution, to help influence customers in their purchasing decisions.   Branding will become more important as a differentiation tool in the future for software sales

Value referrals 

Right now, customers value security and they lack an appetite for risk. And for this reason, vendors are finding that referrals are a great help for winning new customers. Prospects will want to know how much value a solution could bring them. Being able to successfully quantify value, alongside referrals from existing customers, could become the best way to succeed in the future of software sales. Customer recommendations are a great way to build credibility and show how much value a software solution can bring.   

Customers or target customers will naturally be a lot more attracted to an offering if they can see all the measurable benefits and value it could bring. In turn, they’ll give back more specific data and information, that isn’t publicly available. The right data will help to lock in a sale.  

To wrap up 

Is value selling the secret to rebuild lost trust and more effectively position software solutions? 

When uncertainty hits, people need to know their investing and buying decisions are not risky. De-risking decisions and developing trust with customers, with value insights, will help sales teams navigate these times. Proving value over the lifetime is more important than ever, as software solutions continue to be a crucial part of new business operations. 

Value will play a key role in the future of software sales, growing bigger and better opportunities for vendors. Software sellers must rise to meet customers’ new needs and challenges. And they must continue to grow and evolve in a digital world, where digital solutions are fast becoming the new way of life.  

Thanks for reading!