See you at the Alphagraphics Show!

In only 6 days, Four51 will be heading to the Allegra Network Alphagraphics Joint Technology Expo.  For all who are going, take the time to stop by our booth #832 to find out about our all new Advanced Sales Program!

This FREE program will give you access to better equip prospecting/sales support and planning, marketing collateral, and more. We want all our customers to have the knowledge and expertise to use and sell CommerceTools effectively, which is why we are offering this program as a complimentary service to our customers.

We are also introducing our new FanTools Enterprise Solution.  This new edition specifically addresses the social media challenges of distributed businesses.

If you are looking for more information on either one of these new and exciting opportunities please stop by and see us at the Expo, booth #832, or visit us online by clicking here.

We hope to see you there!

SAAS vs. On Site Software

Cloud vs. On Site Software.  We have heard this a lot, and it is a very important issue for us to address, as we always want to help you win customers!  Follow along with our sales guy, G-ray, our product specialist SkiDog, and our technological guru DellFan, as they muscle through these important questions and often times cases we receive on how to address SaaS technology vs. installed and on site software.

Case Question: I am attempting to win a new customer and my competition is using installed and on-site  software.  They are selling the fact that they are better prepared to respond to their customers needs due to their software ownership.  Because Four51 is a SAAS,  how should I respond to this argument?

G-ray: Availability, Scalability, Security, Interoperability, and Delivery.  As you talk about availability look for proof of 99.9% 24×7 up time.  Ask if they can restore a backup to a specific point in time.  Learn about their infrastructure redundancy and performance monitoring capabilities.

SkiDog: Have your customer read the Four51 Architecture Overview found here and subscribe to for uptime statistics and alerts.

DellFan:  Availability is important, and has become standard practice for any SAAS.  This not only covers uptime, but bandwidth redundancy, backup power, and compliance for SAS 70 and PCI.  Scalability is the biggest differentiation, because this is where cost savings come into play big time.  Four51 provides an infrastructure leveragable by many, meaning users no longer have to invest in:

  • the price of the machine it is installed on.
  • the cost of the software and its annual maintenance.
  • the cost of several machines to support different environments (Production, Test, Staging, Demo, QA).
  • the cost of Disk Space.
  • Backup Systems.

SkiDog: I would ask about the hosted software’s ability to interoperate with other systems.  How accessible is the data so that it does not need to be re-keyed into other business applications.  Four51’s solution guide can be found here.

G-ray:  SAAS companies are in the business of RUNNING the software they deliver as a service.  It’s all they do.  Your competitor is simply USING softtware.   That’s a huge difference when it comes to being accountable and responsive.  SAAS companies have invested a great deal in tools and processes that allow people to know what is going on at all times.  SAAS is delivered continuously, meaning that new features and bugs are updated real time, anytime so that customers don ’t get lost in older versions of software.   So, reliability, consistency of delivery, and an appropriate sense of urgency are all advantages of SAAS.

Lazy Marketing in this Economy?!

You gotta be kidding me. Lazy marketing is never OK, but you’re absolutely doomed if your current marketing strategy is kickin’ back, spamming the world with jargon and asking the prospect to do the work. You will get out-hustled, out-muscled, and buried. Check out these two emails I just received. Continue reading

Q. When Is Too Much Choice a Bad Thing?

A. When you offer 700,000 products.

I regularly see online catalogs that are created by distributors using a promotional products site to offer their customers over 700,000 products to choose from and I cringe every time I see one. When confronted with so many choices, your buyers will become frustrated searching the massive database just to find that stainless steel travel mug they’re after.

Continue reading

Making More from Happier Customers (sales series part 2 of 2)

Sales Series: What is the real value of online ordering?

Want to increase your margins? Want to leverage technology to increase your order volume without increasing staff? Want to sell more products to existing customers? Want to have your customers stay with you forever? (I know you need to fire customers occasionally, but most of them you want to keep around!) Get all of your customers ordering online now!

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May I Please Pay More? (sales series part 1 of 2)

In a recent post, Four51 CEO Mark Johnson discussed the question of charging your customers for costs associated with creating a catalog to enable online ordering. In the end, I think it is best to provide the technology solution with no additional financial barrier to getting online. One of the main reasons not to charge a setup fee is that once you get them online, customers have a difficult time switching vendors. Another less obvious reason is that the customer becomes much less price-sensitive and you can actually get them to pay more for product when they order online than when they don’t. I have personally experienced this phenomenon on several occasions.

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Of selling and blogging

“Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.”
-David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Blogging is hard if you don’t have a passion for it. Readers are a demanding lot. They want you to blog well. Staring at a blank page is awful. There aren’t any real tricks that help you get going. Especially if dread is the first thing that pops into your mind. While there are definite rules for writing essays, for blogging anything goes. Basically, one simply needs to present the material with passion and honesty and in an organized manner, and then follow up on threads.

In a way, it’s actually a lot like sales. Continue reading