Honestly I had trouble coming up with the biggest mistake I made, because I made so many of them while launching our first software product in 2014. Perhaps I’ll do another article with all the mistakes I made if I’m in the mood to relive the pain.
To give you a little background on our company, we specialize in custom software development for kiosks and self-service applications. Our niche is retail and bill-payment kiosk applications.
A common part of the custom solutions we deliver include kiosk lockdown software which is essentially a security product to prevent malicious users from tampering with Windows and ensure the correct content is always displayed on the kiosk screen.
We’d been using the “other guys” kiosk lockdown software since about 2007 and I had the brilliant idea to create our own product which we’d bundle with our projects. Aside from the fact that I didn’t correctly anticipate the amount of development work involved (it took us about three years to code) I made what I’d consider to be my biggest mistake.
My biggest mistake was to not try and help enough people along the way, but instead focus on selling my product as a stand-alone solution. Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with pushing your own product or that if you go plant a tree for future generations that the universe will somehow magically reward you with sales.
What I am saying is that you need to build the right relationships in order to get your product off the ground and this involves helping other businesses be successful along the way.
You need to find the right strategic partners that can help you deliver a complete solution to your clients and ultimately solve their problems.
I knew our product was just a piece of the puzzle when it comes to delivering a complete self-service kiosk solution, but I had it in my head that I could deliver only my product and the customer would figure out the other parts on their own.
In case you don’t eat, sleep and dream kiosks like I do, here’s the typical components of a self-service kiosk solution…
- Kiosk hardware: the physical enclosure for the kiosk, including the computer
- Kiosk application: the software which makes up the kiosk’s user interface, controls payment devices, interfaces with 3rd party systems to sync data, etc…
- Kiosk lockdown software: the software which ensures that the kiosk application is always running and prevents users from tampering with the OS.
We’re a custom software shop and can handle the last two items on this list, but I found out the hard way that unless I deliver all of those components then I would lose the sale.
I wasted a ton of leads because the potential client needed more than we could deliver, so I dismissed them as not being a good fit.
How we successfully capture more clients today
As you might have guessed, the key to capturing these potential clients that weren’t a perfect fit to the software services we offer was to form strategic partnerships with other companies that fill the gaps.
No man is an island right?
Well this saying has also proven true for our company. We needed partners to help fill in the gaps so we could provide a complete solution, which also included our software product and development services.
To do this we formed relationships with several kiosk hardware manufacturers who offered a variety of different form factors and applications (outdoor, bill pay, check-in, etc…).
Most of the kiosk applications we develop are bill pay or retail kiosk applications with large scale deployments and are frankly high-end solutions. In order to handle these smaller projects we created a strategic relationship with a web design company who could deliver touch-friendly custom web applications at a lower price point.
There are times when our customers are looking for a really simple and cheap self-service solution for a small business or startup consisting of 1-3 kiosks and these are just not our niche.
This web design company, who are very artistically inclined when it comes to mobile web design, was a perfect fit to fill in this gap and help with the smaller jobs.
The bottom line is, in order to sell more of your products and services you need to make the right partnerships with other businesses to help you deliver a complete solution and ultimately solve the customer’s problem.
Only delivering a piece of the solution will greatly limit the number of customers you can serve and will cost you sales.
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