Jana Technology Services Blog

December 19, 2006

Microsoft Revisits Software as a Service (SaaS)

Filed under: Blogroll,SAAS,Technology — janats @ 8:17 pm

At this years IT conference in Barcelona Microsoft announced that it is revisiting Software as a Service.

Microsoft’s new initiative is called Microsoft Managed Services and is focused on complete hosted packages in which Microsoft provides a server environment with a fixed set of hosted services pre-installed.

Microsoft recently acquired softricity (ww.softricity.com) and its SoftGrid system which is specifically designed to “turn any windows application into a dynamic, centrally managed service.”

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November 30, 2006

Small Businesses don’t use the web channel

Filed under: Blogroll,Marketing,Technology — janats @ 7:46 pm

According to a new report from hosting firm Fasthosts, 49% of small firms web sites may as well not be there.  Fasthosts found in a survey of UK businesses that this percentage of firms don’ts submit their sites to search engines.

The report notes that two thirds of net users don’t look beyond the second page of search results.  What this means is that sites that don’t show up in the first 20 links are less likely to share in the £19 billion UK ecommerce market.  This market is expected to grow by 36 per cent in 2006.

The report also suggests that Google remains the top dog when it comes to searches with 89% of search users using Google as their preferred search engine.

A competent search marketing programme can really make a difference to top line profits for companies of any size.

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November 16, 2006

7 Rules for software start-ups

Ajit Nazare at Kleiner Perkins has 7 rules for software start-ups they consider funding.

KP’s 7 rules for start-ups

* Instant Value to customers – solve a problem or create value with the first use

* Viral adoption – Pull, not push. No direct sales force required

* Minimum IT footprint, preferably none. Hosted SaaS is best.

* Simple, intuitive user experience – no training required.

* Personalized user experience – customizable

* Easy configuration based on application or usage templates

* Context aware – adjust to location, groups, preferences, devices, etc.

Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing: start-ups

These are all great value points for any organisation who has product to sell, and Dan Dodge’s blog is definately worth a visit if you have never been there.

November 12, 2006

Google gets to the Source

Filed under: Blogroll,Technology — janats @ 7:31 pm

Like thousands of other consulting divisions, our consultancy division uses open-source code where pertinant on projects. We find it more than interesting then that Google has launched Google Code Search .

This places it into direct competition with other coding engines such as Krugle and Koders . There is also the publisher O’Reilly which lets users search through its bookfor examples of code (which arguably is more valuable as more explanation of what the code does and is for is available).

We think that not only Google, but its competitors also, will have to come with a much better mechanism for code search and code repository exploration for this service to become really useful. Sites such as SourceForge are much more useful for the serious developer and consulting division in this respect.

November 11, 2006

Generating More Blog Traffic

Filed under: Blogroll,Marketing,Sales and Business Development — janats @ 12:35 pm

We’ve had a number of enquiries over the last 12 months from companies we work with on how to generate more blog traffic.  Firstly we would point  you to a post by Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz.org, who wrote a good post entitled “21 Tactics to increase Blog Traffic” and this outlined key ways to boost blog visibility – http://www.seomoz.org/blogdetails.php?ID=1347.

Directory submission is also a good well worthwhile to help build exposure and links.  Robin Good has a useful list of the best blog directory and RSS submission sites  – http://www.masternewmedia.org/rss/top55.

November 9, 2006

Sales Prospecting Tips

Filed under: Blogroll,Sales and Business Development — janats @ 1:49 pm

Prospecting. In the broad sense, prospecting refers to exploration. And, specifically, it means to explore or search for valuable minerals, such as gold. When we think of prospecting based on these definitions, we can see why it is used in business to describe the point in the sales process where you identify potential customers.

Prospecting, as one of the first steps in the sales process, is a critical piece of any sales and marketing effort. Without it, pipelines simply run dry. Yet, even with its importance, it’s an area that most companies don’t get right.
Here are the top 3 prospecting mistakes…and how to recover:

Not defining what truly qualifies a lead. This seems obvious, but it isn’t. Prospecting’s main goal is to convert a prospect to a lead. The biggest conflict between sales and marketing teams is the differences in how each defines a lead. Marketing feels it’s a contact name in the industry, Sales feels it’s someone already ready to buy. Neither is completely right, but the most important thing is to spend the necessary time defining the top ten pieces of information you must have from a prospect to determine if they make a good lead. Once you have done this, determine the top 3 and focus your prospecting goal on those answers FIRST.

Failing to establish a routine and discipline. Prospecting tends to be the last thing we do. We do it when the pipeline runs dry and panic sets in that we have no new business lined up. But, if treated this way, we will always find ourselves on a rollercoaster of a sales ride. Setting a routine and having the discipline to follow that routine will help you avoid this “feast and famine” phenomenon we’ve all experienced. Start by determining what days/times/venue (phone, mail, networking, etc.) you plan to use for prospecting. Add this prospecting time to your schedule and do not let anything get in your way of doing it. Do not take incoming calls, do not schedule meetings, do not use this time to write proposals. This time is for prospecting. And, it’s as important as all of the other things on your plate, so “just do it!”

Going for the homerun! One of the reasons prospecting gets the short end of the stick when it comes to the attention we give it, is because we treat it like it is the fast track to the end goal of sales. We swing for the homerun, rather than a first base hit. Prospecting (as we defined earlier) is an “exploration” process. Sure, when prospecting for minerals, the ultimate goal is finding gold. Just like when prospecting for customers, the ultimate goal is landing sales. Still, prospecting for gold involves more than sticking your pan in the water. You must first sift through the other items you pull from the river in order to find that nugget you seek. In sales, the same applies. Consider prospecting a sifting process and not your end your game, and you’ll be more successful with it.

Audit your own prospecting process. Are you making these mistakes? If so, it’s never too late to fix it. Prospecting will lead you to the gold…but only after you understand its pitfalls.

November 3, 2006

Sales Tips: The “I want to think it over” close

Filed under: Blogroll,Sales and Business Development — janats @ 10:24 am

The “I Want To Think It Over” Close
By: Brian Tracy

Saving The Lost Sale
There is a powerful technique you can learn called the “I Want To Think It Over Close.” This is the only way I know to save this kind of lost sale. You know by now that when the customer says, “I want to think it over,” he is really saying “good bye.” You know from your own experience that customers do not think it over. They do not sit there carefully studying your brochures and price lists with a calculator and a pen.

People Are Often Ready To Buy
On the other hand, as many as 50 percent of the people you speak to are probably ready to buy at this point. They just need a little push. They need some help. A buying decision is traumatic for them. They are tense and uneasy, and afraid of making a mistake. They may be right on the verge of saying “yes” and they need the professional guidance of an excellent salesperson. But if you accept the “I want to think it over” at face value and depart, you will probably never get a chance to see them or to sell to them again.

Be Agreeable and Prepared
This is how you use it. When the prospect says, “I want to think it over,” you appear to accept it gracefully. You smile agreeably, and begin packing your briefcase and putting your materials away. As you do, you make conversation with these words: “Mr. Prospect, that’s a good idea. This is an important decision and you shouldn’t rush into it.” These words will cause the prospect to mentally relax. He sees that you are on your way. His resistance will drop as soon as you stop presenting and trying to sell.
Ask Curiously
You then ask, in a curious tone of voice: “Mr. Prospect obviously you have a good reason for wanting to think it over. May I ask what it is; is it the money?”

Remain perfectly silent, watching his face. Smile gently. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. This is a critical moment.

Wait Patiently
Again, you have nothing to lose. If you leave, you have lost this person as a prospect forever. The worst thing that he can say is that he has no particular reason but that he still wants to think it over. However, in many cases, he will reply by saying one of two things. He will say, “Yes, I’m concerned about the cost.” Or, he will say, “No, it’s not the money.”

Probe the Answer
If he says that “Yes, it’s the money,” you immediately go into a series of questions designed to deal with concerns about cost or price. You ask things like, “How do you mean, exactly? Why do you say that? Why do you feel that way? How far apart are we? Is price your only concern, or is there something else?”

If he says that, “No, it’s not the money,” you reply by asking “May I ask what it is?”

Remain Silent
Again, you remain perfectly silent while you wait for his answer. In many cases, he will think about it for a few seconds, even a minute or longer, and then he will give you his final concern or objection. He will finally tell you what is really on his mind. He will tell you the real reason why he is hesitating about going ahead.

If you can now satisfy him on this final condition, you can go on to conclude the sale. You can say, “Mr. Prospect, what if we could do this…?” Or, “I think there is a perfect answer to that question.”

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, memorize the words of this closing technique and practice it as you would for a play or movie. Role-play this technique with someone else if you can.

Second, use this technique as soon as possible, the very next time you hear those words, “Let me think it over.” You can save sales that might be lost forever.

October 31, 2006

SAAS: Forget the hype it’s here to stay

Filed under: Blogroll,SAAS,Web 2.0 Apps — janats @ 3:56 pm

The idea of Software as a Service (SAAS) is not new. It fomerly reared its head under the banner of ASP amongst other names and acronyms. So why is SAAS more significant and proving more alluring ? We would say there are at least three reasons:

1. Viability and the comfort factor: The outsourced service model has matured, and has a good record of success – Salesforce.com, Google, Netsuite, RightNow etc. Analysts an d VC’s are comfortable that these companies are going to be around in the future, and the Analysts are right behind the model.

2. The financial arguments for SAAS are conclusive. Using SAAS companies can amortise the cost of their software or infrastructure provider and turn it off or on based on demand. The model also allows them to average into things and to try out models that fiscally they may not be able to do in house. Companies can also change providers if the quality of service and cost are poor which puts the control in a companies hands rather than the software vendors hands.

3. The third is the change of the web itself. There had been very little change in browser technology since Microsoft released Internet Explorer. This meant that online application vendors had to work very hard to get online applications working because it was very complicated making an interactive application work within the browser.

Current SAAS providers such as SalesForce and Google are planning to build their own ecosystem of applications, hosted on their sites. SalesForce is already pushing ahead with AppExchange 2.0. Currently applications that can be built on AppExchange, a way for developers to build their own applications on top of Salesforce.com infrastructure, are still no match for applications built on top of Oracle or MS SQL. AppExchange 2.0 closes the gap.

SF have come up with a way to host both the data and the logic and according to Benioff, SalesForce CEO, this will go a long way towards being a fully formed web operating system. To maximise the power of this AppExchange needs more applications and to that end SalesForce is leasing a former Siebel facility in San Mateo, California with plans to turn it into an incubator for apps development. Cubes are to be leased for $20K per year to startups with onsite programmers providing help and support.

Amazon is probably not a company you would instantly associate with SAAS but they are offering an increasing number of Tech Services. Firstly there is S3, which offers digital storage at 15 cents per Gigabyte; EC2, which rents computing capacity to smaller web developers; Mechanical Turk, which pays humans to handle intelligent repetitive tasks, and this is without taking into account the 180K+ developers finding new uses for Amazon Web Services, including its E-Commerce code.

Benioff from SalesForce asks “do we really need to own everything. SAP and Microsoft tell them that they do. We disagree.” With the the economic way that Salesforce has been gathering momentum over the last few years, it seems that a lot of companies and users agree with him.

Here at Jana we have already seen the fruits of transitioning companies to an SAAS model. The transition can be painful and infrastructure has to be setup to embrace new revenue and marketing programmes, such as Affiliate programmes and web channel marketing, but we have already seen some amazing results with the companies that we have worked with.

As a revenue model, SAAS works. You aggregate users and have a predicatable revenue stream. From a user perspective they amortize their payment costs and have control and flexibility. Little wonder that SAAS has fuelled internet sites and development not seen since the late 90’s .com days.

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