Most of the product selection work I’ve done with customers has been in the mid-range to large budget scale. There are many brands that fall into the high-end and middle section from which to select AND we run across most of them often-enough that we know what brands those are. Yet, I haven’t had many customers ask me to assist with smaller budget LIMS, ELN or LES purchases. There are several points I’d like to make about this.
- Budget. When a company has a tiny budget to purchase a LIMS, ELN or an LES, especially if they use the pay-as-you-go models, they don’t tend to have the money for a consultant to assist them. If you are a software vendor and in that regard, then, there is probably little point to looking for consultants to whom to show your product, knowing that they won’t necessarily be in a position to include your system in a selection process.
- The Needle in the Haystack. There are many, many small software vendors in our industry. It’s just overwhelming to select from the products that are now available.
- Getting Attention. As I’ve been considering the iLES system, here is the one point that I most struggle with so I’m glad I’m not in sales, but I wonder how a small product grabs the attention of customers and convinces them to at least look at the system. So, if you’re the vendor of one of these products, how do you get noticed? It’s not easy. Most of the world doesn’t know who you are and you’ve got a lot of competition.
The Small Vendor
So, for the smaller vendors, there are fewer places to get noticed and it’s just harder to compete when no-one yet knows your name. In marketing, we talk about how to ask the customer about their problems and to use that aspect to get their attention, but so many people are doing that that the customer doesn’t necessarily find that compelling even when you might have a software product that could be well-suited to their needs and within their budget.
In the end, you need to find a way to both get their attention and convince them that you’re of any interest. Think of what it is specifically about your product that they would care about. Don’t think about what YOU like about it, think about what would solve THEIR problems.
The Customer With the Small Budget
When you have a small budget you will probably have to look for products whose names you don’t know – whom you haven’t seen in advertising – who don’t pop-up in magazine articles and industry conference booths, necessarily. As far as I know, there is no comprehensive list and, if you think about it, who could keep-up with the every-changing list of companies that probably come-and-go from out industry.
As such, the best thing you could do is ask another business the same size as your own in a similar industry. See what others are using and what they like and dislike about the systems they’re using.
If there is no-one like that that you can ask, then my advice would be to do what most of us do when we don’t know where to go next – do a Google search. It’s not a foolproof method but it will get you started. Of course, the most popular brands probably pop-up to the top as well as having sponsored ads, but a few pages in and you’ll probably get a number of products to consider.