Lowering Sales Input In Software Start-Ups

For the past 12 months - (Argyle turns one next week) - I've called nearly lead inquiry we've gotten at Argyle.  And I've given one-on-one product demos to lots of them. 

It is really time-consuming and obviously not sustainable/scalable.  But - it is has been a great way for me to build relationships with customers/prospects, get close to the market, and *really* understand the problems that we're addressing with our product.

Lately, we've done a few things to lower the sales input necessary to qualify/close new accounts:

- An email drip campaign.  This was a no-brainer and super-easy to set up.  Even we don't call, we know that all free trial accounts will get a few marketing touches before their trial expires.  We've seen a noticeable up-tick in trial adoption as a result.

- A getting-started wizard.  Step-by-step tutorials are a great way to lower the "getting started" hurdle for new accounts.  We've had this from the beginning, but it was terrible.  Josh - our amazingly talented designer - spent a few hours cleaning it up and turned it into strategic asset.

- Contextual help and demos.  Again - we've had in-line help blurbs and video demos since the earliest version of Argyle.  And we've tended to include lots of descriptive text in our application.  Both are a great way to mitigate support inquiries.

- Immediate value.  We're launching our most aggressive effort to lower sales input in our upcoming release of Argyle Social v2.  (You can read a preview at SocialFresh.com.)  When our prospects log in for the first time today, it isn't obvious that Argyle is aggregating data and such.  First log ins going forward will see data immediately - both real-time updates and historicals.

- A product that markets itself.  In the next couple weeks, we'll have email notifications hooked to key features.  So that prospects (and customers, of course) will get notified by Argyle when important things happen - such as a priority mention on Twitter or a spam comment on their Facebook wall or a runaway success campaign.  These notifications obviously provide business value...but they're also a tap on the shoulder of sorts for prospects that are still deciding!

We'll still do tons of phone calls and tons of demos - but I suspect that we'll do less educating and explaining and instead more convincing and closing.  :)