By Marc Haskelson
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WHEN IT COMES TO WORKING WITH RESELLERS?
One of the biggest challenges has to do with changes to the way resellers in the IT space are expected to do business. We see a great opportunity to help resellers grow by educating them about these changes and then giving them the tools to transform their business model to sell more effectively. We give resellers the ability to sell our product using a SaaS model. Selling SaaS requires a fundamentally different sales model than more traditional project-based work that many MSP/IT providers may be used to. We’re currently working with other board members at CompTIA to develop a set of sales training materials to give players in the channel the tools to effectively sell in this new market. The way we see it, it’s our responsibility to give our partners the tools they need to succeed.
WHAT METRIC CAN GIVE A SOFTWARE COMPANY A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY?
Percentage of growth can be misleading if that’s all you’re looking at. You may think you’re doing well because you double in size every year, but if retention numbers aren’t up, you won’t actually grow. If customers aren’t happy and they leave, you’ll eventually burn through your markets.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED ABOUT BOOTSTRAPPING A SOFTWARE BUSINESS?
Build your business for satisfied customers, not on revenue, because profit is tied to customer satisfaction. That’s what we did. And of course, we’ve become highly profitable by basing our business on this principle. Our focus on customer experience has been the key differentiator for us in a market full of venture-backed competitors.
IN WHAT WAYS ARE MILLENNIALS IMPACTING YOUR COMPANY AND THE SOFTWARE INDUSTRY?
Millennials account for more than half of my firm, and I have to say that many of the negative takes you hear about them in the media are way off the mark. We’ve found that millennial workers are highly autonomous, highly accountable, and highly dedicated — so long as you give them something to work toward. Ultimately, they’re not looking for Ping-Pong tables; they’re looking to be taken seriously and given responsibility. I think if more SMB software firms embraced millennials rather than trying to turn them into more “traditional” workers, the growth potential could be enormous.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST MARKETING SECRET?
Taking an educational and consultative approach to our marketing has really made an impact with our clients and prospects. Scare tactics don’t work as well as you’d hope and can actually alienate prospects. By showing prospects that you’re a reliable source of consistently helpful information, you can win deals and create a reputation for yourself in the industry as a trusted advisor. Start easy by creating some educational emails and sending them to parts of your base — use these to clear up misconceptions and objections you expect to encounter. Then you can take it to the next step and add a blog to your website or write guest blog posts for popular websites in your industry. Use these blog posts to develop your position as a thought leader and build your SEO at the same time.
WHAT WAS YOUR WORST MARKETING MISTAKE?
When it comes to marketing mistakes, I’d say an overinvestment in trade shows and paid endorsements is the wrong path to follow. Especially when you’re just getting your footing in the industry, making an appearance at every trade show you’re invited to can be tempting. But you need to be strategic in the shows you choose to invest in. Decide on verticals you want to target, and create a list of shows in that industry. But go one step further than that: Make connections in the industry, and find out which shows folks are attending in order to buy and which shows are more focused on education and networking. Choose the shows that make the most sense to you, and then invest.
President & CEO
CompTIA Certified Educator
CompTIA Vendor Advisory Board, former cochair (2017)
CompTIA Business Applications Advisory Council, chair
Spirit of Advocacy Award for Patients’ Rights to Privacy, LIBN