14 tips for selling software and services online

Having a great app or service doesn't guarantee success. How do you get your software or digital offering in front of buyers?

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, CIO |  Software, online services, Saas

8. Solicit independent third-party reviews. "Anyone can tell you their products are worth buying, so it is best to have an honest third party referral," says Jennifer Borun, senior marketing director, GoingOn Networks, a developer of social collaboration and communication solutions for higher education. "Encouraging your customers to tell their story of why they selected your product and how it meets their challenge is the best way to get your message out and sell your product. You can capture these stories in case studies, an interactive online forum or blog postings."

[Related: How IT Leaders Can Negotiate a SaaS Partner Contract]

In addition, "try to get a well-respected publication to test your solution/offering," suggests Allan Thorvaldsen, CEO, Panorama9, a cloud-based IT management platform. "This will validate your product (if it is any good) and generate traffic towards your Website for no cost."

9. Offer a money-back guarantee. "Studies have shown that a trusted and well-presented money back guarantee can actually increase sales by up to 40%," says Stephen Dodd, CEO of OfficeTime.net, a developer of time tracking software. As for how long the guarantee should be for, Dodd suggests 120 days, which is what OfficeTime.net offers customers.

"A short guarantee makes it more likely the customer will take you up on it," Dodd says. "They feel a time pressure to cash in the guarantee before it's too late. With a long guarantee, the customer feels they have more time to make up their mind." Moreover, he says, "the longer the customer spends using your app, the more time they have to get to know you and fall in love with what you've created--and the less likely they will request a refund."

10. Include a phone number, in addition to an email address, on your Website. "By adding our phone number to our Website, we increased sales and not calls," says John Hurley, the cofounder of the business class file sharing service SmartFile. "Sure an email is easier to administer, but showing people you have a phone number gives potential customers a sense of comfort knowing that you are a real business."

11. Offer 24/7 customer support. "We will never talk to 99% of our customers, but letting them know they can contact us any time of day or night goes a long away in developing trust with your potential customers," says Hurley. "If you're not large enough to provide 24/7 support, consider hiring an outside firm to do it."

Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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