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On Selling Software

Proven techniques you can use to sell your own software

The definitive book on UPC bar codes

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You see UPC codes everywhere. It seems like they are printed on virtually every retail package. But what do you actually know about this them? This eBook explains all aspects of UPC bar codes. Here is what you need to know before buying or designing bar codes for your product. By reading this eBook you will learn:

  • What is a UPC bar code?
  • How and where can you get a UPC number assignment?
  • What kinds of retail products need UPC codes?
  • How big should your bar code be?
  • How can you print your own retail product bar codes?
  • Where can I find online databases to list my product codes?
  • How can I make an image file of my UPC code online?
  • Plus bar code terminology and more!
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This eBook is available for only $2.99. Or get it for free just by writing a tweet about it! Discover all the secrets of UPC bar codes before you make a costly mistake! This eBook is the best UPC resource for companies that make and sell retail products.

This eBook also offers solid knowledge about UPC related bar codes, and what they are used for. Do you know what a Shipping Container Codes, ITF-14, or GTIN bar code is? Discover what they are and why you need them. Finally, this eBook also contains a bar code terminology chapter which details what all those confusing bar code related acronyms mean.

Selling on Amazon.com

For most software developers, Amazon.com represents an untapped marketplace. Software can be easily sold on Amazon, but most software developers do not list their products there. This marketing channel is totally separate from your normal internet driven sales so it should not compete with your current sales.

Amazon.com only sells physical products. They do not sell software downloads. To sell a product on Amazon you need to have a physical version of that product. A physical product can be as simply as a CD in a case, or more likely, a CD or DVD in a standard DVD case, with an insert.

Basic Amazon requirements include:
  • A physical product that will be shipped to a customer
  • A unique UPC or EAN bar code number for each product
  • A "sell-a-lot" developer contract with Amazon
  • Credit card and a bank account capable of receiving ACH deposits

Every product sold on Amazon needs a UPC code assigned to it. You can not make this UPC code number up, it must be an authentic code assigned by gs1.org, or another legal assignment agency like My Bar Code Store. GS1.org charges a yearly fee of at least $750 for a minimum of 100 UPC codes. Other firms like My Bar Code Store charge a one time fee of from $20 - $50 depending on the number of UPC code you need. Unique UPC codes are required to list new products not currently found on Amazon.

Amazon charges a monthly fee of about $40 to host your merchant account. You must sign a contact for a minimum of 3 months. For software Amazon takes a 15% commission on the purchase price (not including shipping).

What do customers want?

Worldwide software sales for 2005 were estimated to be around 170 billion dollars. The on line portion of those sales was estimated to be 19.6 billion dollars. That's a lot of money! If you are reading this book you are interested in taking some portion of those sales dollars for yourself.

If you aren't making the sales you feel you deserve you probably have lots of questions. Why don't more people buy your product? Why do people buy software? Why do people buy anything? How do you improve your sales skills enough to make some money (influence your customer's purchasing decisions)? Once you realize that all these questions are something that can be learned and discover what it is you are really selling you can increase those sales. Hopefully this book will answer all these questions for you and start you down the road to software selling success.

To sell software you need to understand why people buy software. You also need to understand just what software means to your customer. Once you master these concepts you can tailor both your software and your marketing to match what your customer needs.

So why do people buy software? Without knowledge of why and what people will buy, your attempts to sell software are just random shots in the dark. Your efforts to design software for your customers will also fall short. You will be able to sell some software without knowledge of your customers and how to approach them but whatever you do will fall far short of what you could potentially have done. What makes someone choose one piece of software over another? Are there factors other than the program itself that influence the purchase decision? Will the best coded program out sell its competition? If you can answer these questions you stand a much better chance of selling your own software. And that, after all, is why you are reading this book.

This book will show you how to sell software. By software I am referring to retail or commercial software sold over the web or in stores. In stores you expect to see boxed software versions and on the web there will typically be an electronic software download. We are going to investigate just what the software means to your customer and what goes into the decision to buy software. Another part of this process is to discover how your customer base will influence the actual design of your software product and the way you sell it.

So what does a potential software buyer want? What are they looking for when they shop for software? What goes through their minds when they decide to buy something? Are there buying differences between a consumer and a business software purchase? What factors convince the customer to make a particular purchase? These are the questions you need to be able to answer if you want to effectively sell your software.

The most important thing a customer is looking for is easy to summarize, but may be hard for people who write software to grasp. In my experience, a potential software customer is looking for only one thing:

A solution to a problem.

That's it. All they want is a solution to their problem. They want their problem to go away as quickly and as easily as possible. If this piece of software can convince them it will solve their problem they will buy it- often right away. Don't ever underestimate to power of instant gratification.

Before you complain that people buy lots of software that doesn't solve a problem, stop and think about the concept itself. Even software games are a solution to the problem, the problem of boredom. A software game provides entertainment to your customer. Any software that addresses a need is solving a problem. Your customer doesn't need your software, they just want to use that software to solve their problem.

The number one thing to remember is that you are not in the business of selling software. You are in the business of solving problems. You want to convince your customer you can provide them with a solution to their problem. Once they feel you can solve their problem, your trip towards a sale is well on its way. You want the customer to trust you enough that they will pay you to solve their problem.

Consider the computer you use everyday. No one buys a computer because they need the computer itself. A computer by itself is nothing more than an expensive paper weight or a small boat anchor. But a computer combined with the just right software is a powerful tool. Unfortunately for the consumer, finding just the right software is a painful process, at best. If you can find a way to lessen their pain you increase the odds they will choose your software.

Think of selling software in this light. If there was any possible way to avoid buying a computer and then finding software to solve their problem most people would jump at the chance. No one really wants to install yet another piece of software, figure out how to use it, and see if it will actually solve their problem. The whole process is just too painful. Just installing new software can drive a person crazy. Does anyone say the same thing about driving home their new car after they bought it? Purchasing something is supposed to be a positive experience. We have all heard of people who are addicted to shopping. But have you ever heard of anyone addicted to buying software?

Try a simple experiment. Ask any ten people who aren't involved in making or selling software to tell you what they last used a computer to do. Have them describe exactly what they did. Listen carefully to their stories without commenting on the story itself or steering them in any particular direction. After each person is finished, ask yourself "Did this person have a positive or a negative experience?" My guess is that you are going to get very few glowing reports about computer usage. There just aren't going to be many people telling you- "You know I just had the most wonderful experience. I turned on my computer, entered a few key strokes, and solved that nagging problem I had all day." Most of the stories are going to have a negative side to them. Why is that? Why is something so integral to today's society perceived in such a negative fashion?

If you want to sell someone a piece of software you have to over come all those negative feelings they already have about software. Your potential customer needs to trust you. How do you get them to do this? You have to learn to see the world through your customer's eyes. This is not as easy to do as it sounds, since you are more than likely a programmer or at least someone who uses software on a daily basis. And the fact is, you just don't think the same way your potential customers do.

People with a strong background in software can't usually put themselves in their customer's place. This problem even has a name. It's called the Fantasy Island syndrome, named after the TV show of the same name. The Fantasy Island marketing concept was coined by Rob Rosenburger back in 1989. The basic idea behind this concept can be summed up as follows: "I live in my own special place. Everything here is wonderful. Everyone around me thinks the same way I do. This must be the way everyone in the world thinks." The problem with this concept is that it doesn't reflect the real world at large. It only reflects your own limited personal experience. If most people actually thought this way why would so many people have such a negative view of software and computers?

Most programmers will be the first to admit they don't know anything about marketing, advertising, or sales. Yet many of those same programmers will happily attempt to sell their software, all on their own. They throw a software package together, cobble up a web site, add e-commerce, and then wonder why they aren't making any money. It never dawns on them to ask just what it is they are really selling.

Only after they meet with limited or no success will some of them attempt to get sales help. The programmer's customers don't trust him to solve their problems. And the programmer doesn't trust the marketing and sales advice he gets. There is no trust on either side. But that's what this whole thing is about- establishing trust in providing a solution to a problem.

Copyright 2006-2014 by Gary Elfring. All rights reserved

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