I have a working prototype for an enterprise software. It is basically a very niche product catering a subset of the engineering firm. Now, what I need, is to validate the market as soon and as cheaply as possible.
My software is a boring, desktop based application. Due to the high cost of development ( I can foresee that even though all I have is a prototype), and due to limited demand, the software must be expensive, very very expensive. The price could be more than $10K and less than $100K. As a consequence of being very expensive, selling via online is very hard, SaaS business model is completely not practical given the current technology of the web browsers.
This is an off-the-shelf product, and I can't gradually improve the product by doing consulting.
This niche of customers whom I intend to sell to has the following characteristics:
- Very conservative and don't like to use software. I would have to employ door-to-door salesman to convince them to buy. It is not enterprisy for no reason :). But like I said, I want to validate the market first before really employing the first salesman.
- Don't like to give feedback. This, couples with the fact that we are selling desktop software, means that there are only very limited ways we can get feedback to improve our software.
- Not technological savvy, they have no patience for an unfinished product. So anything you give to them, it would have to be fully functional and contain no bugs, or else they won't buy.
- Those who are using the solution don't have the purchasing power. Not only that, they don't have the ability to grasp the intention of your software unless and until you have a working, fully functional, bug free software in front of them. Even if I do have such a software, they still won't provide feedback. The one who has the purchasing power simply won't entertain you because you are not solving his problem.
- Telling my prospective market what my product is going to do is very hard to pull it off as no one likes to read pages and pages of powerpoint slides or documents. They won't commit anything until they see the final, working product. Yes, a final, working product, even a prototype won't do ( I got a prototype and all they said was "wait until you are finished and only then come back to me, till then, I am not interested"). Such is the mindset of our customers.
- My software doesn't really save money/ make more money directly for a company. The benefit is only apparent for the engineers who use it, but the engineers are so low in the corporate hierarchy that they are in limited or no position to influence the decision maker to make a purchase.
What can I do to prove that my expensive, enterprise software do have a market?