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How not sell software


So I'm needing some 3'rd party control for my C# application that provide things like Outlook style toolbars, etc.

I head over to Infragistics site and their .NET Advantage stuff looks promising. Let's download a trial version and test it out.

Oh wait..Trial downloads are for members only, so I have to become a "member" of their web site just to download a trial. Sigh..Ok, fine. Fill out the form.

..then get dumped nowhere and I have to re-navigate to the download page. Ok, click download. Ah crap! Now it wants me to login!? Why didn't it remember me from when I just filled out their f*** membership form?

Ok..renavigate back to my download...WHAT?! I got a fill out a fu**** marketing survey!?! Are you shitting me!?

Finally! I get to the download page...Oh great. It's a timed trial, not the normal nagware stuff. So now, I've got to make sure that I evaluate their software within their time frame. Hope I don't get moved to a different project before I finish evaluating it.

Clue to you budding ISV's:

1. Don't make me sign up and fill out surveys to try your software. I will just put in profanity and phony numbers do my utmost to annoy you with my responses. Make it *easy* for me to try your stuff. Easy...

2. If you're selling 3'rd party components, give me nagware not timed trials. Put a big, honkin' "THIS IS A TRIAL SOFTWARE, NOT FOR RELEASE" on the front of my app for all I care, but don't make me rush my decision on whether or not I want to use you. Sometimes I get switched to a different project, only to come back and find out that I can demo your stuff anymore.

Arrgh.

Too angry to say
Monday, February 02, 2004

In my angered haste, it would seem a screwed up the title....How not *to* sell software.

Too angry to say
Monday, February 02, 2004

Weird stuff. I was just thinking about how to make my component software annoying, without being too annoying (for the trial version anyhow).

Just something I do on the side, when I'm not busy saving lives.

While I have your attention, how annoying would it be to download another zipped version after you register/purchase the product? It would make things a lot easier for me, and I could make it a lot less annoying for you, while still keeping it off of public FTP sites in Russia.

Ooops, I'm not supposed to make cultural references here.

Nigel
Monday, February 02, 2004

Yeah you basically want a more clueful site builder, one who's more sensitive to the nature of maintaining the buyer seller relationship.

I mean, first of all, no matter how much marketing crap you collect on a customer, it's no use if it pisses them off, it's only going to get youc crap form submissions. There are already a lot of information that you can gather without pissing the customer off.

Look at Dell.com, notice the home and business sections? Guess what happens to a "User Type" field when you buy a PC using the home site? Guess what happens if you buy the same pc when you navigate using the business site?
That's like asking 1 solid question without asking it.


Grabbing demographics need not be so painful. Grabbing surveys definitely need not be so painful.

A survey should never be bunched into a single 3 page long interrigation.

Ask a question here, ask a question there, an insert inside your usual 5000 links portal can easily ask a relevent question with 4 radio buttons signifying likely a range answers. First, it'll be clicked on more often, second, it can show up anywhere in your grand site, third, it's context sensitive to the activities people use, fourth, it's easier to fill out and just plain feel like less time wasted. You should never intentionally BLOCK a user's experience to ask a question.

The best part about breaking all your questions into such mini surveys is that you end up getting your chance to ask your 3 page questions, without ever imposing on your potential buyers right away. Grab a few inferrences by structuring your site properly, ask the odd mini survey here and there. Ask a question in your mailing list. Ask a question on the back of the registration card. Pretty soon you'll have all the answers you need.

And most importantly, no matter what information you collect or how much, it doesn't matter if it does nothing for you. You have to take these inputs users give you and do something useful with it. If you aren't interested and you are too lazy, your research is doom to failure.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, February 02, 2004

Infragistics... ugh.  I lost all respect for the company after its ham-fisted attempt at "stealth marketing" on the Microsoft newsgroups:

http://makeashorterlink.com/?T25D12747

There are plenty of other companies that develop quality Office-style components -- SyncFusion, Janus Systems, Developer Express, and Dev Components come to mind.  Hopefully you can find what you need elsewhere.

Robert Jacobson
Monday, February 02, 2004

This is an interesting topic I think.

I wonder about how many ISV with limited access to skilled marketing people think the best way to market is by asking there [potential] users a hundred questions, compiling results and ‘hey just figured out my demographic’.

There is a time and a place I would think….

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I wouldn't be surprised if these pernicious practices actually resulted from the company having a so-called specialist marketing person.

A company run by developers would probably know the protocols for dealing with developers, whereas an external marketer might think they're all idiots to be manipulated.

Must be a Manager
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I'm in the exact same boat (evaluating Infragistics controls). If, somehow, there are any Infra-ployees lurking, let me ensure you that when my trial expires and I have not yet reached a "yay" or "nay" ... this means an automatic "nay" (because I can't further evaluate your software) ... so, in my case, your fancy trial expiration garbage just cost you $1,000.00 as I'll immediately head to other control sets (already mentioned in this thread) that have a more realistic trial experience.

What's the point, anyhow? The timed trials are pretty easy to circumvent via  a re-load onto a emulated environment, anyhow ... so, why do this anti-marketing? Oh, I know ... if you spend more than 21 days evaluating it, perhaps then you start to discover the real problems. In that case, it makes perfect sense!

Steve
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

One other comment on Infragistics:

Amazingly, the sales rep that contacted me has not returned both my calls or e-mail after I requested a trial extension ...

Steve
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

As a budding ISV, I kind of like the concept of timed out evals.  What would you consider to be a reasonable eval period?  I was planning to use 90 days.  Is this reasonable? 

Why a time out?  One word: WinZip -- how many people do you know that have a registered version?  This is good quality software that almost every windows user I know has on their computer.  It is only $30, yet most users I know just automatically click the "I Agree" button without thought (even though it moves from side to side).

Billy Boy
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The winzip market is vast, your developer market is quite small, picky and too busy to devote 100% of their "trial period" to evaluating your product (when there are so many other products) ... yet, if we decide to produce software with your product (understandably, not your ultimate goal; your ultimate goal is to "sell licenses"), you can damn well bet we won't ship with a "This software was produce with a trial version of <DevComponent>" as our splash screen . . .

Steve
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

> WinZip -- how many people do you know that have a registered version?

All 250,000 employees of Citigroup last time I checked.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Maybe a small percentage of people actually pay for WinZip, but why did you mention it?

Because allowing people to click-through puts it on a lot more desktops.  Sounds like good publicity.

Nigel
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The timeout period for Delphi was too short for me; the "reasonable timeout period" may depend on the product's complexity.

Christopher Wells
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Citigroup is a corporation.  As such they have a larger requirement to their shareholders in respect to software licensing. 

I was really asking how many individuals do you know who run a legal copy of the software on their computers. 

I mentioned WinZip because it is a well know piece of software that a large majority of end users install on their computers.  It brings up a splash screens that says it is a 21 day trial but continues to function after the trial.  It is not limitted in functionality.  It seems to be a very common point of reference that we could use as a basis for discussion. 

The question that I want to understand is whether WinZip is hurting its profits by distributing its eval product in this manner. 

Further I want to get a feel of an appropriate length for an evaluation period.

Billy Boy
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

A "reasonable" limitation depends entirely on what you're distributing, and how it will be used.

If you're developing a complete standalone application (like Winzip, a calendar program, etc.) then a time-limited trial is fair.  The user can download the program, play with it for a few weeks, and then decide whether to buy.

On the other hand, if you're developing a widget (like a fancy toolbar) that's going to be a component in a larger development project, then a time-limited trial doesn't make sense.  It's likely that the developer won't be able to completely evaluate your component within the 14- or 30-day period, and if your widget expires before a decision has been made, you probably won't get a sale.  It's much better in these circumstances to use a nag screen, so your widget isn't usable for a shipping app but is still useful for testing/evaluation purposes.

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Billy, I know what you were asking. I was just letting you know that the Winzip guys did make money from licensing even if nobody you know (or I know) ever regitered it.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The company I work for has all licenses in order, to the best of my knowledge.

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, February 07, 2004

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