Monday, August 17, 2009

Turning a weakness into a strength

REAL Server is not yet well-known outside of the REALbasic community. We are working on that, but in the mean time, there is an area where this weakness is a strength.

When it comes to database servers, the well-known products have names like MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, DB2, etc. If you are building a commercial product that uses a back-end database server, there is a good chance that it uses one of these. If your customer is big enough to have a dedicated IT department, it might make sense to support the database server the company is already using. If the product is going to be used across the company, this is a good thing as it makes it easier for the prospect to purchase your product since they won't get any grief from IT about it. Could using the corporate database server or some other well-known database server ever be a bad thing?

Yes, it can. In many companies, if the IT department even recognizes the name of the database server you are using, they will feel it should be their responsibility to support it. That may bring IT into the decision making process. If your product is sold at a departmental level, they may want to purchase it but have to fight the IT department because IT doesn't want to have yet another database to support. So what's the solution?

There are many IT departments that don't get involved if the product is departmental and they think the database server is proprietary. Our own REAL Server for example, comes across that way. Even though it's based on SQLite, arguably the most installed database engine in the world, REAL Server is not nearly as well-known and, as a result, comes across as a proprietary database server. This can make it easier to sell departmental products because you can keep the IT department out of the sales cycle.

We have a customer right now that is switching from MySQL to REAL Server for this very reason. That's turning a weakness into a strength!


Steve Garman said...

Interesting tactic by the head of a company such as yours, taking sides against the IT department in the eternal battle ]-)

Geoff Perlman said...

It's not that I'm taking sides really (though I know you are joking a bit). If you are selling into an organization with an IT department, understanding their psychology can increase your chances of making a sale. Know thy customer.

Anonymous said...

You have one customer who has skirted past their IT department. One data point does not make a trend.

It's incredibly naive to assume this tactic will work in other companies.

Geoff Perlman said...

I'm not suggesting that this will always work. However, in this particular case, the customer selling into companies and they are getting past many IT departments. They specifically chose REAL Server for this reason and it's working. So it's one customer of ours but it's not one data point.

Ryan Bearden said...

This is called a coincidence, not a trend. When you've seen this a dozen times, than you can write something like this....but you haven't.

Geoff Perlman said...

And I never said it was a trend. You will notice that the word "trend" does not appear in the blog post or any of my comments (until now of course).

I'm simply passing on a tactic that seems to be working well for one of our vertical market developers.

Rhywun said...

Interesting anecdote, but in the real world (OK, my world) nothing slips past IT, but if it does, it eventually blows up and IT has to support it anyway. Frankly I don't like the idea of other departments mucking around with their own software because it always blows up.