Answer by Auren Hoffman, CEO of LiveRamp, on Quora

It is WAY easier to sell into companies (both large enterprises and SMBs). Software sales for startups is WAY easier today than it was 10 years ago.

Number of vendors has dramatically increased.
Some companies have 10 times as many vendors today then they did 10 years ago (with only 2x the spend). Companies are buying from way more vendors and each one is getting a smaller piece of the pie. This could be bad news for the very large software companies (Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, etc.) but it is great news for startups.

Selling into companies has never been easier. And startups can get to significant revenue much faster.

Cloud has liberated startups.
Back in the day, all software was installed on premises. Selling software to enterprises that needs to be installed on premises is very expensive. The cost of implementation could run a few hundred thousand dollars (and often millions of dollars). For that type of cost, the buyers really need a full solution to see return on investment.

But today most new services are in the cloud. And you can sell a company just a few seats to try it out. For instance, LiveRamp uses Sendbloom to do email automation (disclosure: I am an investor in Sendbloom). LiveRamp started the relationship with buying just one seat. Now all of LiveRamp's sales prospecting team (and even the recruiting team) uses Sendbloom. They were able to sell in easily and quickly, and then expand the account when the product worked.

Many cloud services can be bought on a credit card without even the approval of IT, so the buying happens faster.

Vitamins are winning.
Back in the 1990s, VCs always said that they wanted to invest only in aspirin and never in vitamins (see: What are some differences between "vitamin" and "Aspirin" product based startups?). The "aspirin" solved a real pain and was a full solution. The "vitamin" was a small enhancement, or a feature.

The mantra was "companies don't buy features."

This was true in the 1990s and it was very hard for startups that were not extremely well funded to build aspirins. If you are small startup, you cannot afford to build a full solution.

But today, companies ARE buying features, not just full solutions. Companies buy lots and lots of features. In fact, even when they are getting a feature for free with a bundled software, they still are willing to pay money for it from a startup if the feature is better.

In the new world, product wins.
All this leads up to the big point: today Product beats out Sales Channel. Sales Channel (like the kind the large software companies have) is still important and still adds a lot of value, but it is not as important as it once was.

Product, while always important in the past, is even more important today. The old adage "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" (see: What does the phrase "Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM" mean?) is no longer true. Companies are much more willing to try products from disparate sources.

All of this is really, really good news for software startups. The summary for this article is: software sales for startups is WAY easier today than it was 10 years ago.

What are some noticeable differences between building a software company today versus a decade ago?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

 

Published on: Jul 8, 2015