Regardless of whether you just sold software in the cloud or on-premise, you need your customers to actually use it. In the on-premise world, customers might buy $5M worth of software and only deploy $10k in the first year. In the cloud world, they might not renew subscriptions or expand the workload. Now, you’re getting sucked back into the account to spend your time on work that doesn’t impact your quota. Below are some tips that I used in technical sales to position customers to actually use my software.
Make Sure They Have The Skills To Use It
Some technical sellers are great and can make software look very simple. However, selling software and actually using it are two different things. If customers don’t have the skills to use the software, they can’t use it. Be honest with what it takes to use the software and make sure they have the skills required. If they don’t, help them put together a plan to learn.
Give Them The Documentation They Need To Use It
During a sale, the customer is often shown exactly what they need to deem a product pilot successful. They’re often hand held by an expert and sometimes don’t even see the documentation. When they have to use it after the sale though, they get to dive into the thousands of pages of documentation for the product. At Navitome, we create documentation that customizes itself as the user works with it. They only get the documentation that they need. The non-Navitome alternative is to manually pull together the documentation they need in the short-term. While I’ve done this, it only works for the projects that you know about. It’s also extremely time consuming to direct them to exactly what they do need and exclude what they don’t.
Actually Have Your Customer Do Something During The Pilot
It’s fast to just do the whole pilot yourself with the customer looking over your shoulder. You prove what you need to and move on to the next deal. When your customer’s environment allows you to do that, think about the long-term consequences. They have no experience actually using it after they buy. While it’s not your job to make them experts during a proof, you can certainly help them be more competent. One of the ways you can do this confidently is by giving them documentation that works.
Learn What’s Preventing Use Across Customers
This might be more of a product management topic, but you can certainly do this for your customers. Follow-up with your customers and take a pulse on what’s happening with that software you sold them. If they’re not deploying it, ask them why and help them if possible. Hey, that just sounds like a good thing to do anyway. If you understand why your customers aren’t using what you sold, you can address it personally or through some other group like services. At Navitome, we help you with this through our documentation analytics. Our analytics show you where customers are spending their time, where they’re abandoning the process, and where they’re failing. Here are some example questions you might answer with our analytics:
Are customers spending 20 hours in a part of a product configuration that should take 20 minutes? Maybe there is a skills or communication issue here.
Are 50% of your customers abandoning a guide for setting up an important feature all at the same point? Maybe there is something wrong with your UI or product at this point. Are they coming back or abandoning this altogether?
Have customers started failing and reaching out to support at a common point? Maybe there is something wrong with the documentation or product at this point?
Be Honest With Your Sales Counterpart And Hold Them Accountable
You want to sell. They want to sell. Everyone wants to sell more software. You technically know your product better though and can predict the customer’s post-sale success. Tell the seller that they need to put some sort of services or education into the deal. Start this conversation early. If it looks like your customer is destined for post-sales failure, collaborate with your sales colleague to remedy this situation as soon as possible. If you bring it up too late, they’re not going to risk derailing the deal.
So what’s the takeaway here? These things aren’t easy, but they’ll protect your future efficiency. They’ll help you deploy and ultimately sell more software. Addressing these situations in an automated, scalable way with Navitome can help you sell more software. That’s a major reason we started this company.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk about how Navitome can help your company with deployment or usage challenges.