Steve Ballmer from Microsoft recently commented on how complex the enterprise software sale is.
“The truth is that the way information technology decisions are made in a company is really complicated. You really have four points of view, and we have to work with all of them–end-users, central IT, line-of-business executives, and then the business leaders, who could be the head of sales, finance or operations.”
There is an excellent article here by Dale Vine of Freeefrom Dynamics (this is where I picked up the quote) on the complex nature of enterprise software sales, and Hamish has some thoughts too. SAP has developed a strong sales force over the years, and it plays a part in our success.
I think one of the major challenges that small software innovators face is in building a proper sales process, team, business development, partnerships and so on. This is not easy. A top sales guy can make a huge difference to the success of start up or niche firm, but often they can't attract the calibre of people that they need to manage the complex sale.
As most of my merry band of 3 readers know, SAP is putting a lot of effort into the ISV channel, and we will see lots of applications emerging over the next year, hopefully emulating the success that Virsa has had. (see Joshua Greenbaum's article)
A friend of mine has recently left SAP to set up a company, ISV-ecoNet,advising and supporting ISV selling into the SAP customer base. He ran the Netweaver sales team at SAP Germany, so he knows his stuff. He will be able to help companies align their sales and marketing strategies with SAP's, build help build the right contacts in SAP's sales team and in the vast German customer base, and close the deals. He aims to build a portfolio of hot niche products that complement SAP, and help the ISVs bring them to market and close deals. I think he is onto a winner. It will help SAP and it will help the ISVs.
As an example, he is working with a electronic signature company, Authentidate who have built a great solution that integrates into SAP. Electronic signature is particularly hot in Germany at the moment, due to some recent significant legislative changes, and the German cultural fixation with the "stempel".