Home > ISV, Software Development > Programmers don't buy support

Programmers don't buy support

After thinking more on my previouspost,
the basic flaw in our plan was expecting a programmer to buy support.

Programmers are relatively conservative buyers of
software since:

  1. They don’t buy much software, usually some form
    of management does.
  2. They typically want to build rather than
    buy.

If you think through all the products that you have
purchased, how many offered support – did you buy it? The best case where
aprogrammer would purchase support is whenit is bundled (such
aswith an MSDN subscription which programmers and especially independents
often purchase themselves). Would programmersbuy the technical
support tickets if they had a choice?

The other flaw in the plan was expecting
programmers to buy support when they weren’t buying anything else. Many
developer tools vendors (source control and bug tracking for
instance)offer support as an option when you buy a license. I think
this works for two reasons:

  1. Ifthe authorized buyeris a
    management person then they are more likelyto seethe value
    (whether real or perceived) in getting support too.
  2. If the authorized buyer is aprogrammer
    then they already have their credit card out so the decision to buy has been
    made – now the vendor just has to close the deal on a bundle with support
    (typically through the draw of free upgrades if you buy a support
    contract).

Bottom line – make sure yourbusiness plan
doesn’t rely on programmers buying support contracts rather look for user
license fees.

(Many companies have taken the open source approach
and changed it to have special versions that are either more convenient to
install, have additional features or even different licenses for commercial
purposes to drive their revenue.)

Do you buy support
contracts?

Jonathan Cogley isthe CEO and founder of
thycotic, a .NET consulting company and ISV in Washington DC. thycotic has
just released
Thycotic Secret Server which is a secure web-based solution to both “Where is my Hotmail
password?” and “Who has the password for our domain name?”. Secret Server
isthe leader in secret management and sharing within
companies and teams.

Categories: ISV, Software Development
  1. Fabrice
    January 18, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    I think you are right on with your analysis.

    Selling to developers is really different than selling to managers. For example, a free or open source version will seduce developers, but support is much more important in a manager’s eyes. But… an option to buy the source code is also important for managers.

    Ideally, you should have options for every potential buyer profile, if possible.

  2. http://
    January 19, 2006 at 2:47 am

    Nope.
    You should offer a free version with most of the features. And a Pro version with the rest of them. I will sometimes buy the Pro version to get the remaining features.

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