Blog Post

What are the top 6 sales channels for a small software development company?

Generating leads is the hardest thing you’ve got to do when you run a software business - harder than writing software, managing tricky clients or even making the sale. The good news is that there are some specific things you can that actually do work.

Here are 6 sales channels that are proven to work.

  1. Content Marketing - publishing original and interesting content on your website that gets you found by search engines and brings visitors to your site. The challenge with this is to generate enough content at a fairly steady rate. The good news is that it does work - you can boost the traffic to your website, particularly if your get developers to write about how they’ve solved particular technical problems.

  2. Networking at Industry Events - it feels like this is essential if you’re in an niche. Buying an exhibitors stand and staying overnight can be expensive but you might think it’s worthwhile. Alternatively, with some events you can just visit as a delegate. Running some kind of seminar or speaking at the event is the best way to raise your profile.

  3. Local networking events - don’t ignore these. They may not be very frequent but they don’t cost much to attend, they’re a good opportunity to hone your networking skills and it absolutely doesn’t hurt to raise your local profile.

  4. Responding to invitations to tender that appear on lists. Responding to tenders can be hard work, particularly for a small business, but there are some good reasons why you shouldn’t ignore them. First an invitation to tender is a real signed-off opportunity with a clear procurement timetable. Second, they give a small expert business a chance to punch above its weight in a niche industry. Sure you have to compete and you might be up against bigger companies, but a polished tender response (you must understand how the tender will be scored) will get you a presentation. And we find that many customers will buy from small, agile software companies.

  5. Email marketing. This can work and some people will say that it’s still more effective than social media marketing. It takes time though to build a list of contacts but it does mean you can make direct contact with potential buyers. You’ve got be careful not to annoy people - they must be able to opt out - and it’s better if you can send them something of value. Can you do a specialist technology newsletter in your industry niche?

  6. Pay per click advertising on Google and Bing. Click through advertising can work but only if you are clear about the keywords that you want to target and if your adverts are linked to good landing pages on your website. Most important of all, our experience is that you need sizable budget to make paid advertising work. Pay per click advertising can get you at the top of the searches results when someone searches for ‘software development company’ but each click will be expensive.

The problem is that 6 sales channels are too many for a small business - you don’t have the bandwidth or the budget to do them all. The challenge is to narrow down, find two or maybe three that work for you and do them properly. Our suggestion is:

  1. Put them in order - most attractive to least attractive.

  2. Take the top three and do a real push for 3 months. Come up with a plan for each one - what are you going to do each week? Set targets - numbers of posts, events attended, budget for ad. spend etc.

  3. Review at the end three months and swap in a new sales channel if something clearly isn’t working.

Don’t pick 3 if you haven’t got the capacity and don’t give up too soon - it’s important to give each channel a chance. And one final tip, look at what your competitors are doing, particularly companies that are just a bit bigger and a bit more established than you. Do similar companies seem to do the same things to win new business?