Posts tagged Sell
Here’s the good news: Bitcoin is money, as far as the US government is concerned.
But the bad news is, being deemed real money involves a level of regulation that Bitcoin utopians, who describe the digital currency as a way to escape the strictures of governmental oversight, may not have been counting on.
In the current world of Bitcoin, potential buyers currently have two choices. They can buy Bitcoins through an exchange, a lengthy process that involves disclosing a bank account, government ID, and sometimes a past utility bill, to a site they don’t quite trust. Or, they can, as this reporter tried, exchanging cash for Bitcoin with a stranger whom they might trust even less.
Bitcoin vending machines, which trade cash for Bitcoin, and Bitcoin ATMs, which exchange from cash to Bitcoin and back again, have been seen as a third option friendlier to new Bitcoin users. But anyone who thinks such machines will herald an age of anonymous, untraceable transactions free from government scrutiny has another think coming.
The real question is whether anyone can navigate the nuances of Bitcoin law carefully enough to actually purchase a vending machine or ATM and keep it going without stepping on regulators’ toes.
A Long, Expensive Struggle
When Aaron Williams became the first person in the United States to own a Bitcoin vending machine, his legal legwork had only just begun.
The Atlanta, Georgia resident said that it would take weeks before he could operate his machine in public, thanks to all the regulatory requirements he and his lawyer still had to meet.
“The paperwork isn’t a big deal,” he said. “It’s choosing—and executing—the right compliance strategy in a regulatory landscape that was never intended for something like Bitcoin.”
Since Bitcoin is still such a nascent currency, US lawmakers don’t have Bitcoin-specific regulations in place. So before Williams even placed an order for his $5,000 Lamassu Bitcoin vending machine, he put more money down on a lawyer, Bitcoin legal expert Marco Santori. The upside of hiring a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin? Santori accepts the currency from Williams in lieu of US dollars.
With his legal team in place and the machine on order, Williams needs to register at the state and federal level as a money transmitter. Beginning in March 2013, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the US Department of the Treasury began issuing guidance that it would treat Bitcoin no differently than it would other types of currency.
Since then, Bitcoin startups have had to register as money services businesses, or face the consequences. One of the most visible blunders was when a US subsidiary of Mt. Gox failed to register with the treasury as such a business. The Feds seized millions.
With such dire consequences for failure, Williams certainly intends to register. But before he can, he needs to put two things in place: an anti-Money-laundering, or AML. strategy, and a Know-Your-Customer, or KYC, program. AML and KYC are cornerstones of financial regulation, and to comply with both, he needs to draft out a clear and effective strategy for spotting and eliminating suspicious activity—one that regulators approve. And since Bitcoin-specific legal documents for AML and KYC compliance don’t exist yet, and since they’re so complex, Williams hired a consultant, Jay Postma, specifically to draft custom versions.
Even after Williams does have AML and KYC programs in place, the tricky part is going to be keeping them up. He’ll also need to be ready to comply with any new regulations the government passes on Bitcoin businesses. Just like a bank always needs to identify customers in order to remain vigilant about fraud, so Williams will need to know basic information about every person who uses his machine—just in case.
So far, compliance has cost Williams thousands of dollars. In an indirect way, you could also say it cost him his job: Williams was let go from his job at an online-payments company after his employer objected to being referenced in an article about Lamassu.
But for him, it’s worth it for a couple of reasons. Since the Lamassu can be configured to charge a transaction fee like any cash ATM, he believes he’ll be set to make back his money in a couple of months. And, more importantly, there’s the pioneer spirit that comes with being the first person in America to do something. He believes that easy access to Bitcoin is the biggest advancement that Bitcoin needs today.
“When a story about Bitcoin sparks someone’s interest, that interest can be quickly lost because of the intrusive and time consuming process it takes to initially buy Bitcoin,” he said. “These devices will eliminate that problem, and replace it with a process that is similar to how they get cash today.”
The Beginnings Of An Infrastructure
Bitcoin regulations, in the US and abroad, are becoming so notoriously complex that the currency’s first ATM manufacturer, Robocoin, uses built-in compliance as one of its selling points.
Although Robocoin is a Canadian company, it meets compliance laws in both Canada and the US. According to Robocoin CEO Jordan Kelley, the company worked with a legal team to ensure that all its machines come AML- and KYC-ready, out of the box. It’s thanks to the machine’s unique three-step identification process: In order to use a Robocoin ATM, you need to let the machine scan your government ID, and scan your face and the palm of your hand as biological identifiers.
“Right now it’s a miserable process,” said Kelley. “You have to give [exchange sites] your bank account, ID, driver’s license, most recent utility bill, and then wire them the money. For Robocoin you need your hand, your ID and your face.”
All of the information is securely transferred to Robocoin, where the company determines whether customers are doing anything suspicious, and alerts the ATM owner if something is amiss. But legal responsibility lies with the Robocoin operator, not the company, to enforce the rules and submit suspicious activity reports—SARs—to authorities.
“They’re in charge of communicating with the local and federal government to ensure they deliver all federal reports,” said Kelley. “Our job to make sure they’re informed about what they need to do and to provide them with the best technology.”
Robocoin isn’t just the only ATM that can dispense cash as well as receive it in exchange for Bitcoin, but the only one that comes with this many compliance precautions. As a result, the company charges $20,000 per 6-foot, 750-pound machine. (Kelley predicted ATM owners can make that money back within a year using a 5 percent transaction fee.)
However, Robocoin has already found its first buyer, a company called Bitcoiniacs in downtown Vancouver. The machine will be ready to use early next week.
Just like every other form of Bitcoin exchange (excepting direct peer-to-peer transactions), there’s nothing anonymous about using a Bitcoin machine. Both Williams and Bitcoiniacs will be monitoring their customers for suspicious activity, including unusually large deposits or very frequent deposits. Just like any bank or other money-related business must.
But even with all these restrictions, wrinkles are sure to appear as soon as Bitcoin machines like these enter public spaces. There’s no doubt that regulations on Bitcoin with shift over time, depending on how these pioneering machines are received. As machines make Bitcoin more noticeable and accessible to potential users, they’ll also put Bitcoin more sharply on governing bodies’ radar.
But from Williams’ perspective, regulated machines might turn the tide regarding Bitcoin’s public image. Instead of being seen as a currency best fit for criminals and libertarians, users might see it as simply a convenient, digital way to spend.
“I see it as an organic process once these devices start popping up in communities,” he said. “I think they’ll start have conversations about what Bitcoin is, how easy it is to buy now, and where to spend it or how cool it would be to spend it locally. Then with a little fertilizer from enthusiasts to inform merchants, you have the little sprout of a Bitcoin economy.”
Photos via Robocoin
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Tickets to 'No Breathing's megatalk with Yuri, Seo In Guk, & the director sell …
To celebrate the movie's opening, Girls' Generation's Yuri, Seo In Guk, and director Cho Yong Seon will be at the Seoul Coex Megabox to talk with all of the movie's fans for the first time on October 30th.. As soon as tickets went on sale for the GV …
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Google is about to start selling ads on Facebook. More to the point, its ad clients will be soon able to buy ads on Facebook.
Google’s ad buying software, DoubleClick Bid Manager, announced a partnership with Facebook to participate in FBX, the social network’s advertising platform. Clients have been able to buy advertising space across the Web. Adding Facebook as a destination ad site extends DoubleClick’s reach even further.
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Apparently, Microsoft has just remembered that it needs gamers to sell a gaming console. In a complete and humiliating reversal, Microsoft’s next-gen console just dropped some of the contentious bits that had formerly loyal gamers shouldering pitchforks and heading to Redmond. And thank goodness — now we’ve got a fairer fight on our hands.
So what’s out? Microsoft brought the axe down on its requirement that the Xbox One would need to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours, and also rolled back its most user unfriendly copy-protection (i.e., DRM) limitations. In an official blog post, Xbox President Don Mattrick invites gamers to “[t]rade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today.” The company also dropped regional restrictions for games in the Xbox One’s stable.
And unlike last week, the Xbox One leads the PlayStation 4 in launch day pre-orders today.
Features On The Chopping Block
Unfortunately, hushing the public backlash against the Xbox One comes at the cost of a few previously-announced features, at least at launch. The Xbox One will not allow users to share games with up to 10 “family” members — one of the system’s cooler new perks.
And some old annoyances are back, too. For instance, users can download games from disk to the Xbox One’s hard drive in order to improve performance — but they’ll still need to put the physical disk in the console to play them.
Was The Xbox 360 The Gamer’s Console All Along?
Why did Microsoft change its tune? As much as the company paraded the next-generation Xbox One as an all-in-one living room entertainment system, it’s still a gaming console at heart.
According to a surprising 2013 Nielsen report, the Xbox is where the gamers were all along. In 2012 PlayStation 3 users lead the charge on non-gaming entertainment, spending almost a quarter of their time streaming movies or TV shows — not playing games — on the console. Xbox 360 users spent around 13% of their usage time for video-on-demand and other forms of streaming media.
PlayStation 3 owners only spent 46% of their time playing online or offline games, allocating the rest to the broader entertainment features that are supposedly the domain of Microsoft, while Xbox 360 users spent 66% of their time playing games on the console. Sure, Sony’s inclusion of Blu-Ray on its last-gen console counts for something, but video on demand and streaming media accounted for the lion’s share of the difference — and that’s something both consoles have equal access to.
Can Microsoft’s Backtrack Bring Gamers Back?
Last week, Sony jumped at the opportunity to spin the PlayStation 4 as a console built for gamers, not just for whatever family members happen to be ambling around the living room. And for once, the gaming community at large seemed agree on something — namely that it wouldn’t stand for the Xbox One’s restrictive policies and it was happy to pre-order the PlayStation 4 instead. Pre-orders for Sony’s PS4 poured in.
Now that Microsoft has been humbled by the core gamer demographic it threw to the wolves just last week, the big question is whether it’s done enough to repair the damage. We’ll have to track console pre-orders and social media to see how it all plays out, at least until the consoles hit the market this fall. By that time, the rules of the game may have shifted yet again.
Xbox 180 image via imgur, provenance unknown
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This post is the fourth and final installment in the ReadWrite series Making Android Pay, focusing on the opportunities and challenges that mobile developers face trying to make money from Android Apps.
Android is truly a worldwide platform. If you are a developer trying to make money with Android apps, that global presence could be your biggest asset – or a tremendous headache.
The smartphone installed base in the United States is near 224 million, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry. Android’s slice of U.S. smartphones, depending on what stats you trust, lies somewhere between 40% – 50%, or about 90 -110 million devices. Throughout the world, Android devices have been activated 900 million times, according to Google’s Android head Sundar Pichai, speaking at the Google I/O developers conference keynote address earlier this month.
It’s Not About The U.S.
Hence, if your Android development and distribution strategy is centered in the United States, you are leaving out most of your potential customers.
Google realizes this and has worked to give Android developers more tools and tips to be able to hit the international market. “One thing we heard very clearly from Android developers was that they want to take advantage of the international footprint,” said Purnima Kochikar, director of Google Play apps and games, in an interview with ReadWrite.
When Google updated its developer tools in its Google Play Developer Console at Google I/O, it gave particular weight to international distribution. Included was the ability to translate your app to a variety of languages, analytics by region and optimization tips based on that data. For instance, Google might recognize that your app is doing well in Central America and recommend that you translate it into Spanish.
The Android Google Play app store is now available in 134 countries where Google can process payments. Kochikar said that Google wants to provide the type of infrastructure for Android app development where it becomes an egalitarian platform where, “with one click you can present your app to the entire world.”
Think Globally, Act Locally
Mobile developers often have a “rip it and ship it” type of mentality. Get the app done, make sure it works and get it out the door. That type of mentality can work for some (Facebook, for instance), but loses the nuance and thoughtfulness that can be the difference between just another app and a successful mobile business.
Different countries have different behaviors when it comes to smartphone behavior. For instance, did you know countries around the equator are really, really big into gaming? Or that the Japanese really like productivity apps (and karaoke)? “Ecosystems are built locally,” Kochikar said. “The ecosystem is locally relevant content distributed on a global scale.”
Flurry has highlighted some of the differences in behavior in varying geographical regions. It separates the world into six categories, based on 20,000 apps in the 30 heaviest app-using countries:
- Mobile Pioneers (U.S, United Kingdom, Singapore etc.) with the highest app usage
- Connected Asia (Hong Kong, South Korea)
- Equatorial Pacific (Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam etc.)
- Lumbering Giants – countries with the potential to be heavy mobile users but for one reason or another have not kept pace with mobile adoption in other countries (Brazil, France, Russia, Spain, Turkey etc.)
Be Local And Contextually Relevant
Flurry’s analysis doesn’t dig very deep, but it reveals some interesting trends. When it comes to games, the Equatorial Pacific Region leads in terms of adoption rate, while the Japanese tend not to be big gamers.
The Chinese and Lumbering Giant countries tend to be heavy into entertainment apps. Sometimes, smartphones and tablets are the only place where users in those countries can get foreign entertainment or a wide selection of music.
The idea is to make your app contextually relevant to the locations where it is available. That is why Google chose an agency-based (human, not machine) model for its new app translation service in the Google Play Developer Console. It is also why Google has redone the backend payment system for Google Play to allow for direct-carrier billing and gift cards along with the standard credit card payments. Different countries have different standards of payment and Google is trying to accomodate that with as little pain to the app publisher as possible.
“If you think about where the next million apps are coming from, they are probably not going to be made in the U.S. They are probably going to be made by developers in Brazil, Russia, India et cetera,” said Ellie Powers, product manager for Google Play. “Those folks may have a very different set of users but some of them may go global. So having to understand what is happening globally is really important.”
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Top image courtesy Flurry.
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Activist shareholder Dan Loeb just called for Sony to sell up to 20% of its entertainment division, and Sony has already rejected the offer in a statement provided to USA Today. Third Point, a New York-based hedge fund managed by Loeb, owns roughly 6.5% of Sony, making it one of the company’s largest shareholders with a stake valued at $1.1 billion.
By selling 15-20% of Sony Entertainment, Loeb claimed Sony could boost the value of its shares, sharpen the company’s overall focus and help revive its consumer electronics business. (Three guesses as to which one of those Loeb cares most about.) Sony’s statement reads:
As President and CEO Kazuo Hirai has said repeatedly, the entertainment businesses are important contributors to Sony’s growth and are not for sale… We look forward to continuing constructive dialogue with our shareholders as we pursue our strategy.
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Last weekend, the busiest spot at Fry’s Electronics in Concord, Calif., was the notebook PC aisle, where eager salespeople buzzed about from customer to customer, eager to show off Windows 8. It appears that this new, kinder, gentler approach to selling Windows 8 is part of a larger Microsoft strategy that involves both altering the software itself and improving the retail experience.
Changes Coming For Windows 8
In a Wall Street Journal blog post earlier this week, Windows marketing chief Tami Reller described how Microsoft is working to overcome the perception that Windows 8 is frustrating and difficult to use – and said the company is working to both make Windows 8 easier to use and to better explain to shoppers the new operating system’s benefits and how to take advantage of them:
Without offering many details yet, Ms. Reller outlined how Microsoft is working on changing software features, helping people overcome obstacles to learning the revamped software, altering the shopping experience for consumers, getting more of people’s favorite apps available for Windows 8 and making sure a wider array of Windows 8 computing devices will be on sale.
The Journal also said Reller confirmed that Windows Blue is “both the codename for a coming update to Windows 8 – with additional features and improved services – as well as a name for a broader strategy shift to provide faster changes to its key software.” Significantly, Reller also promised a Windows Blue update “before late June” that would address user complaints about Windows 8.
How Is Windows 8 Selling?
Reller’s six-month update also revealed that Microsoft claims to have sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses, and that 250 million apps have been downloaded from the Windows Store in the same period, surpassing what Apple’s iOS store accomplished during the same period. The number of apps within the Store has grown six times since launch, Reller said, and almost 90% of the company’s app catalog has been downloaded each month.
Bob O’Donnell, an IDC analyst whose firm has blamed Microsoft for holding the PC industry back, told Bloomberg that he didn’t understand where Microsoft was getting its numbers, given that his sources at the PC were telling a different, less optimistic, story.
Changing Perceptions Of Windows 8?
Whatever the numbers, the first small signs of the push to change perceptions bout Windows 8 were visible at Fry’s:
- Placards that refer to the “familiar” Windows 8 desktop experience
- Shifting the older, cheaper non-touch laptops away from the main floor
- The constant attention from sales staff.
That last bit is a big deal: Fry’s is known for its sprawling stores and massive selection, but customer service and friend salespeople traditionally haven’t been its strengths.
My wife and I were doing a bit of showrooming to find a touch-based Windows 8 notebook for the house. Fry’s Concord location boasted five or six aisles of notebooks. Each PC boasted two placards: one touting the benefits of a Fry’s card or financing, and one that promoted an Office discount. Microsoft’s card also highlighted ow to learn more about the PC, how to get to the “familiar” desktop, and how to “go back to Start.” Clearly, Microsoft does recognize that using Windows 8 isn’t as natural as it originally claimed, and is trying to help.
Several times during our visit my wife and I were approached by a salesperson offering to answer any questions – and one specifically offered more information about Windows 8. When we wandered back into the rear aisles with the older, cheaper, non-touch Windows notebooks, however, no one followed. Unfortunately, there were about four or five rows of these older PCs versus just two specifically dedicated to Windows 8.
(For comparison, at Best Buy a week earlier, I found an aisle of rather lonely Windows 8 machines sitting by themselves, with Microsoft promotional materials but little sales support.)
Is This A Mea Culpa From Microsoft?
What matters here is that Microsoft finally seems willing to listen to its customers, to work with them to craft an experience that’s both productive and entertaining. And yes, when the occasion calls for it, help them over the purchasing hump.
To be honest, though, after looking at them, my wife didn’t really want a Windows 8 machine. She seemed to like the Start screen, and swiping back and forth, but she didn’t really grasp how to launch a program within the Start screen by typing its name, nor how to how to enable the Charms by swiping in – or even what they were used for.
Microsoft and the PC industry now seem to feel that the solution to the Windows 8 problem is a little hand-holding, and making sure everyone feels comfortable. That’s the right approach, let’s hope the coming changes to Windows and renewed emphasis on helping customers upgrade hasn’t arrived too late.
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While Microsoft is obviously having trouble convincing consumers to adopt Windows 8, its message is that enterprises have been far more accepting. It turns out that might not be true, either.
Last week, Forrester Research released a report claiming that Microsoft’s Windows 7 is used in about 50% of all enterprise installationss, based both on its own surveys as well as a sampling of the Web traffic across it own servers. That’s not surprising, given that Windows 7 was released to enterprises years ago, in mid-2009.
But what’s more shocking – and more worrisome to Microsoft – is a survey of IT professionals polled by Dell’s KACE systems management unit last week. It seems that even now, companies who are finally upgrading from Windows XP are turning away from Windows 8 in droves, selecting instead the older Windows 7 operating system. Of the 273 IT professionals who said that they’re upgrading from Windows XP, just 2% said they’re choosing Windows 8. The vast majority – 69% – said that they’re choosing Windows 7 instead.
2013: A Key Transition Year From Windows XP
For Microsoft and many of its customers, 2013 represents a key transitional year. Many of its enterprise customers will be forced to move away from Windows XP, which Microsoft plans to cease supporting on April 8, 2014. Microsoft is eager to sell those customers an upgrade to Windows 8, Office 2013, and other services, while PC makers hope they’ll buy all new PCs, too.
In September of 2012, though, research firm Gartner warned enterprises that they should upgrade to Windows 7, not Windows 8. Gartner vice president Richard Kleynhans said then that he was aware of many enterprises doing just that. “Get Windows 7 done, and then you can start to experiment and dabble with Windows 8, but don’t let Windows 8 derail your Windows 7 upgrade project,” Kleynhans said.
That’s a lesson Dell customers apparently have apparently taken to heart. The reason, explained Lisa Richardson, a senior product manager for Dell KACE, is simple: complexity equals cost.
The other big transition concern is applications compatibility, especially with line-of-business programs developed in house, Richardson reported. Compatibility issues, however, can crop in both Windows 7 and Windows 8.
In case you’re wondering, operating system upgrades are what Dell KACE does. The Dell KACE Deployment Appliance manages OS upgrades across enterprises (including apps, files, and operating systems), so IT admins participating in the survey have skin in the game. The survey participants represented a mix of existing KACE customers as well as prospective clients, Dell said.
Richardson added that 15% of the survey participants said they plan to deploy both Windows 8 and Windows 7, and 10% said they wouldn’t install either one. A second survey question indicated that 17% of participants had completed their upgrade, 18% were three-quarters done, and that an additional 13% said they were at least halfway done. But almost half (49%) said either that they were either less than halfway done or hadn’t even begun.
Forrester’s data, meanwhile, also gives an edge to Windows 7 over WIndows 8. The firm found that its Web traffic was about 50% Windows 7, with 47.5% of IT managers saying they’ve installed it. Windows XP still accounted for about 22.3% of traffic, or 38.2% of systems; Macs are about 14.6% of traffic, and 14.3% of self-reported employee PC ownership. Windows 8 was too new to make the IT survey, but represented just 1% of Forrester’s traffic from May 2012 through January 2013.
Windows 8 Or Windows 7: It’s Still Good News For Hardware Makers
No matter OS enterprises are upgrading to, Dell found, the time seems ripe for a hardware refresh. A lot of IT customers reported that PCs were being asked to last far longer than the previously standard three-year refresh cycle because of the effects of the recession – often five to six years. “Those systems couldn’t support either Windows 7 or Windows 8,” Richardson said, in part because they don’t have big enough hard drives.
And hardware still matters, even as the trend toward mobile devices implies that the cloud is shouldering more of the workload. ”A stylized view suggests that computing is moving to the cloud and that platforms don’t matter anymore,” Forrester’s report concluded. “This stylized view couldn’t be more wrong — today and for the next five years or longer. The mobile revolution continues afoot, as users shift computing minutes from traditional PCs and Macs to tablets, smartphones, and new classes of devices like hybrids and convertibles.”
And that’s where the good news for Microsoft may be found. Richardson reported strong IT demand for Windows tablets – as supplemental devices, not as laptop replacements – to the point where Kace plans to add support for Windows 8 deployments on tablets.
The War For Windows? Or For PCs?
Forrester’s message is that platforms still matter. But listen closely to what Microsoft’s saying these days, and the interpretation changes.
“Businesses continue to value the Windows platform,” Chris Suh, general manager of Microsoft’s investor relations, said during the company’s recent conference call. “Volume licensing of Windows is on track to deliver almost $4 billion in revenue this year, and nearly three quarters of enterprise agreements that we’ve signed this year include Windows. Additionally, this quarter we saw continued progress in the transition of Windows XP to Windows 7, and now two thirds of enterprise desktops are running Windows 7.”
It’s all Windows, Windows, Windows. But notice the careful phrasing. Microsoft’s message is that businesses value Windows, not necessarily Windows 8.
For a company reacting to the alarm bells analysts are sounding on the future of the PC, Microsoft’s statements signify an important strategic retrenching: for years, Microsoft fought to establish its latest operating system to spearhead continued growth. As this data from Forrester and Dell shows, though, Microsoft may be forced to acknowledge that Windows 8 is a lost cause within the enterprise. The new, lesser goal may be simply trying to hold on to the Windows PC – any flavor of Windows PC.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock. Images of Windows XP, 7, 8 from Microsoft.com.
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SEO Evolution: Sell, Discover, Deliver & Report on Highly Converting Keywords – iMedia Connection (blog)0
SEO Evolution: Sell, Discover, Deliver & Report on Highly Converting Keywords
iMedia Connection (blog)
Highly Converting Keywords Over the past few months I have attended industry events in both Europe and the United States. During this time I have had in-depth conversations with many SEO professionals from SEO firms of all sizes about their challenges …
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Guest author Indus Khaitan is a co-founder of Bitzer Mobile.
Classical sales models are an artifact of the assembly line economy. Manufacturing builds parts; assembles finished goods, ships them to a warehouse and relies on sales and marketing to bring in revenue. This is how cars, medicines, beauty products, books, food and beverages, and many other things have long been built and sold.
Applying the classical model to enterprise software is doomed to failure.
The 3 Components Of Classical Sales
Territories, quotas and commissions are the three components of the classical sales model:
1. Territories were created to increase customer coverage based on how far a sales representative can drive, meet a customer and be back home in the evening.
2. Quotas further divide a territory between multiple individuals or simply create a target number to help assess how much a territory could add to company revenues.
3. Commission plus a fixed monthly retainer constitute the total compensation. If the sales numbers are above the agreed quota, commissions may be higher.
Why It Doesn’t Work For Enterprise Software
The buying process of enterprise software is fundamentally different today, making the classical sales model obsolete:
1. Buyers are informed. Thanks to Internet, people know about the product before they start a conversation with a software vendor. As a result, few buyers are willing to spend time with classical sales professionals. Instead of a sales pitch, they are looking for thought leadership, education and the advice of a trusted partner. The new rule is, “show me how you’ll solve my problem,” not “tell me about your product.”
2. Inbound Marketing is trumping outbound marketing. Prospects discover a product or a company via influencers, search engines and other channels before they start a conversation. Website content, videos, product literature, blog posts and so on enable customers to understand the product before they meet a salesperson. Inbound marketing helps them self-select or eliminate a product.
3. Enterprise software is assembled after buying. Software does not work in isolation; it gets orchestrated with pre-existing pieces. An enterprise solution is a sum of individual parts a company may have bought from multiple vendors. A database, a middleware server, an identity framework, an application builder, a security appliance… the list goes on. Fast-paced innovation is creating companies that are good at one or two things and enterprise customers may be looking for a collection of best-of-breed products.
4. Multi-functional teams work for closing deals. As the complexity of software grows, product management, R&D and sales must work together to create a “solution” before a purchase transaction is made. The days of individually “shrink-wrapped” software is over; even ordinary enterprise apps are produced using a variety of enterprise tools working together, each serving its own purpose.
5. Buyers are distributed across geographies. In today’s connected world, a lead in the sales funnel may originate from New York, but the decision makers are based out of Washington DC while the implementation team is based in India.
In the new normal, enterprise software buyers increasingly seek solution white-boarding sessions – not sales pitches. Traditional sales models simply can’t cope with the changes, but effective replacements have yet to appear. Until a solution is developed, enterprise software vendors – and buyers – will find themselves under increasing pressure.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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