The following two posts are excerpts from a presentation I have been giving to members of the Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) as part of our annual Autodesk “DevDays” roadshow. DevDays is where my team presents Autodesk technologies coming out in the coming year to ADN members in 15 cities around the world. I am currently sitting on an airplane headed to Seoul Korea for the second half of our DevDays tour – North and Central Asia as well as Europe. It’s the two months each year I get reminded what the life of a musician touring is like – getting in front of a new audience in a new city and country every day or two. It’s a great experience talking to hundreds and hundreds of partners 1 to many and 1 on 1 over a very intense two month period (it can also be exhausting at times).
There is a major sea change taking place in the technology industry. A shift driven by consumer products and services that is invading the Business to Business (B2B) market. A shift to what I like to call “No Risk No Fear” business.
It started with the free web services from Google, Facebook, Twitter, DropBox and the sort. Free email. Free social. Free messaging. Free storage. Sure this was all consumer oriented services with little to no impact of the B2B world. But what we all use daily does change our expectations in a subtle but deep way. We expect to get good value for free. And if we want more, for pay, we make that decision based on a depth of experience before ever paying a thin dime – a No Risk No Fear decision.
Free web services can be found in the B2B world in several places already. Look at how Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure) are so quick to give any software developer a basic platform for Cloud based web services for a year for free.
The No Risk No Fear approach to business is not just free but also about cheap. Making apps and services available at a low cost. salesforce.com (SFDC) has used this model to become the fastest growing Cloud based CRM service in the world. Autodesk went from 1 seat of SFDC for $50/month to 10 seats to 100 seats to near 3000 seats over a period of a few years. No big dollar investment decision was needed till Autodesk had tens of thousands of hours of experience using SFDC in the field. Compare that to the old “big iron” approach to selling CRM and ERP systems – with all the risk involved for both parties – buyer and seller - personally, professionally and company-wide when selecting a new expensive CRM/ERP system. A $50/month decision versus a $1 million+ decision. SFDC has made it so easy to get started, No Risk No Fear.One of my staff, an Autodesk Developer Network Evangelist, has his own personal SFDC account he uses for managing his partner contacts. At $50/month, why not?
Apple and their App Store have taught people to expect a lot of value at little cost too. Value that might have cost hundreds of dollars per person is now a simple app in the App Store for just a few dollars. Why take the risk of purchasing a large app when you can purchase several simple small apps that if they don’t work out – who cares? No Risk No Fear.
For elephants and their partners alike, No Risk No Fear selling and buying means dramatically lower cost of sales too. Instead of having to invest hours, days, weeks and months developing a sale, giving away or selling a low cost app that delivers the customer immediate value and immediate firsthand experience with your company and technology. This will greatly accelerate the sales cycle – from a single person using a simple free app to a modest price app to the customer standardizing company wide on your full solution suite. For a small start-up, No Risk No Fear selling is more powerful yet as it gets around customer fear of using technology from a small unproven company.
Your services and apps need to be GREAT. Customers have no patience for free and low cost apps that are clunky or difficult. They have not invested enough money to struggle with your service or apps. It’s just too easy to stop using it and look elsewhere. Your customers need to get great value immediately. Yes for free or low cost, you need to deliver a great easy delightful customer experience. Yes your free or low cost apps need to some degree be better and easier than your larger revenue generating offers – as they are your foot in the door, your invaluable first impression.
More about No Risk No Fear.