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How software-as-a-service companies could double their sales

I’m a big fan of software as a service — completely hosted business applications. 

We are currently using TypePad, Salesforce.com, Vertical Response, Intermedia.net. We’ll be adding Ning and Jivespace soon.

The advantages are overwhelming:

  • No hardware costs
  • No IT department
  • Security – they back up everything
  • Instant, constant upgrades as they add new features
  • Very customizable
  • Open and extendable with third-party add-ons

Here’s where these companies fall down on the job: They fail to provide a simple, ranked list of independent developers who can help me customize the installation.  They all give the same annoying answers: "post a message in our developer board" or "run an ad on Craigslist." Or they have an unorganized, unofficial developer program.

I’ve dealt with the senior executives of almost all these companies, and not one of them can introduce a customer to a reliable developer who will get a new implementation going. (Some are conflicted by trying to promote an openly customizable platform while also selling overpriced professional services.)

That leaves buyers in an awkward position.  I’m now out there interviewing random developers, my deployment is delayed by weeks while I look for someone, and, frankly, it’s not worth the trouble.  I guarantee that at least half of your leads have walked away instead of going through this. 

I know you all think you have a great developer program, but it’s totally useless to your paying clients.  Turn it into a core selling asset:

Hosted software providers, if you want to double your sales:

  1. Create a public directory of developers
  2. Let them include a links to jobs they have done
  3. Let customers rank them/comment on the listings
  4. Possibly offer some sort of certification program

Here’s one we did for free at WOMMA.  It’s just a simple blog with one entry per company, with assorted indexes.

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