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This is an interesting forum thread from that I replied to. Read the question and scroll down for my response. Though it may be of interest…

———————– FORUM QUESTION ———————–

Why are people not buying our software?

We sell an international software suite, geared towards small/medium sized businesses worldwide.
We offer a FREE Demo version that users can install and try out.
If they like the software they simply purchase a licence key.

Based on the number of downloads each day, we seem to be getting around 5-7% who actually purchase the software.

What we would like to do is to conduct an exercise and establish exactly why most people are NOT purchasing the software.
Could it be the price, could it be there is something missing or needs improving, or simply something else?

We originally thought of contacting all these people and offering them a huge discount or even a FREE licence. My thinking behind this idea was that it might work for the people who thought the price was too expensive, would these people spend a few minutes answering questions on something they didn’t want anyway?

My question is, what is the best method of contacting all these people worldwide and finding out why they didn’t buy? We have telephone numbers for many of these people but we prefer to use email if possible.

I very much look forward to your ideas, particular from people who have already done a similar exercise.

Regards, Davel

———————– MY ANSWER ———————–

Hi Dave,

Firstly, answer some basic questions. Be honest, and check your thoughts with industry peers. I don’t want to sound negative but a lot of software developers are blind to these questions.


We’re assuming (without knowing) that your software is great, fills a good need, fixes a common problem etc.

Q1: Do people ‘NEED’ your software? or is a ‘GIMMICK’ application?
– (if it’s a ‘Gimmick’ application, then your conversion rate may be sporadic at best, It if’s a ‘NEED’ type app and you’re not converting well… it’s simple, you haven’t solved the problem your software is trying to solve)

Q2: Are there ‘BETTER’ alternatives to your solution?
– (if so, you may not be converting on bad functionality and design – improve the solution)

Q3: Is your installation system for the software ‘SEAMLESS’ or ‘DIFFICULT’?
– (Should be seamless if possible if not, smooth the install bottlenecks)

Q4: Is your software ‘EASY’ to install?
– (Should be seamless if possible if not, smooth the install bottlenecks)

Q5: Is your site attracting the wrong type of traffic?
– (ie: you could have a million downloads, but if they’re all 15y/o school kids, then it won’t convert – they have no money and may be just stuffing around! But if you have 100 downloads and these are from CEO’s or IT specialists, your conversion rate will be high as they’ll be looking for a solution.
Marketing success is more about the quality and type of traffic than it is about the volume.


Remember that every ‘PROBLEM’ a trial customer encounters is a barrier to converting. It could be that you have 5-10 barriers in your download and trial process and you have to find them and fix them one by one. The ONLY way to know the barriers is to test and measure EVERYTHING. It’s a huge job sure – but so is looking for a new job beause your software company went under due to poor conversion and not understanding the sales process. So put the effort in!  ;-)

OUR METHODS… Our solution is, a project management solution.

WEBSITE – Fish out the good Leads…

– We have screenshots, tours, specs, PDF whitepaper etc. Means they can evaluate before trialling. We show them the product before they trial it, so only the interested people sign up for a trial.
– Get email addresses on the website, ie: Newsletter signup…
– Google Analytics, track where people get ‘lost’

FOLLOW UP – Hold their hands… Automatically…

– We have automatic preformatted emails that go to customers on day 1, 7, 13 and 16 of their 14 day trial. Each with the correct message for the stage they’re at. This is great at ‘tickling’ them through the trial process and massively increases conversion.
– We even capture their timezone from their IP Address and have a CRM system we built that helps us to call them at the correct time of day regardless of country. (ie: we know that it’s 3:30pm in Switzerland for customer X)
– On the trial signup form we ask where they found us (dropdown list)
– On the trial signup form we automatically select their country and state (using a GEO IP app we built) – this impresses people.
– When demo finishes, they’re locked out of the solution with a ‘Click to Signup’ link
– Google Analytics, track where people get ‘lost’ and what they focus on
– We offer teleconferences and ‘run throughs’ of the solution
– We built a ‘One Click’ link into all trial accounts so we can help people easily


– Demos – Amount signing up per day
– Demos – Countries per day
– Demos – What day in the trial period they’re on
– Demos – Conversion to sale rate
– Demos – Cost per converted lead
– Demos – Staff user numbers per account (so we can focus effort on big leads)
– Demos – Graphs – Where they found us (measure change over time)
– Demos – Graphs – Why they left us (measure change over time)
– Demos – Graphs – About another 10 graphs  ;-)

– Subscriptions – Amount signing up per day
– Subscriptions – Countries per day
– Subscriptions – What day in the trial period they’re on
– Subscriptions – Cancellation rate
– Subscriptions – Revenue per customer (monthly)
– Subscriptions – Revenue per customer (lifespan)
– Subscriptions – Project numbers per account
– Subscriptions – Task numbers per account
– Subscriptions – Time tracked per account
– Subscriptions – Graphs – About 10 graphs  ;-)

Ultimately, information is power. You don’t need to get as pedantic as us – we’re numbers nerds, but the point is that to sort out the true reason for the low conversion you need to KNOW what’s going on in a lot of different areas. Work out the important metrics to track and the info you need to capture and put a few systems in place. Soon you’ll have a clear picture…

Hope this info is of benefit. I love this stuff so anyone is welcome to contact me if you have any questions.

– Regards, Julian

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About the author:
Julian Stone, CEO – Project, Task & Time Management specialist for:, &

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About The Author:
Julian Stone begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting is the CEO of ProActive Software, developers and creators of the leading web based project management software