Should we target large customers with our software localization platform?


3

For the last 15 months we've been working hard to build a cloud-based platform that helps companies localize the software they build (named Amanuens ). It all started from our own needs and we decided to make a product out of it.

Technically, the product is robust and does not need any major development. It is commercially available as a SaaS with a pay-as-you-go model.

The problem is that we're mostly technical and we are having a hard time selling it. We do have some paying customers, and they are happy with it, but we're not able to scale.

I wonder if it's a market problem (e.g. there are not many people willing to pay for something like that) or simply a marketing and sales bottleneck. I'm more inclined towards the second option because just about everyone seems to have problems with localization (or it seems to me).

So far we focused on small customers (for various reasons) and we're wondering whether we should start focusing more on large customers instead of small ISVs.

Marketing Sales Saas Localization

asked Apr 12 '11 at 21:24
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Deleted
655 points

2 Answers


2

Of course you should go after the big guys if your product is robust and solve a real problem. But be aware of a few things:

  • Big guys get offered about everything that exist on the planet through aggressive sales people so you have to have a really compelling product or you will be lost in the mass. One way to acces them is to find a sub-group, a branch, an affiliate and do an implementation with them and then go up the chain from there.
  • Hire a real Sales guy with experience selling to this type of customers. The Sales cycle are much longer with large corporations than SMBs. Be ready to wait 6 to 9 months to get a deal done. Be ready to go through security reviews, to have lawyers look all over your contracts and all that good stuff before you can get a penny from them. It takes time and experience has value.
  • If your product is good, why don't you try raising money from a VC or angel group to be able to put in place a not-so-technical management that can help you scale?

good luck. Having paying customers and a good product is a very position to be in to raise money!

answered Apr 13 '11 at 10:10
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Antony P.
714 points

1

Selling a product that makes it easy to localize software might be difficult.

  • Really small companies are in no position to localize their software. In general, software companies will not even attempt to localize their software until they reach $10-$20 million in sales in their home country. That is because a $5m software company can't afford to open a sales office in a new country--they don't have time or money to do this and there is still probably lots of opportunities to grow in their home country.
  • Larger companies that do start localizing are in the $20m and up range. For a company that size, the "buy vs. build" question looks a lot different. They probably have 20-50 programmers at that size, and somewhere there, one of those programmers is telling the managers that he can build it in a weekend. Plus, there aren't nearly as many of these companies, so you'd have to charge a higher price, which is more of a reason that they might build it in house.

In short... when you try to sell to customers who are localizing for the first time, you are dealing with customers who are actually taking on a very large problem (how to sell and market in a new country) and you are only offering a sliver of the solution (the actual localization tools and technology). Essentially you are trying to talk people into jumping into a large, complex project while only offering to make a tiny part of the pain go away, so I can see why it's an uphill battle!

answered Apr 14 '11 at 11:28
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Joel Spolsky
13,472 points
  • It is indeed difficult, anyway here is what I've learned so far. Small companies do localize their products even without localizing their business (or even customer support). Obviously YMMV. Large companies all have home-brewed "tools" to help with the localization process, but they're horrible, complex, and very far from the state of the art, and they waste tons of time and money for them. Change is hard in large companies, that's why we never approached them so far. Anyway trying will not hurt too much :) – Deleted 8 years ago

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