In the San Francisco office we all take turns answer the phones partly because we don’t have a receptionist and partly because it’s incredibly valuable for everyone to talk to customers and people evaluating our software. I’ve had some really interesting conversations with customers about how they’re using our products, what they like and don’t like, and how we can improve. Last week, I picked up the phone and found on the other end a customer who was less than pleased with the purchasing process.
The issue in question was with a customer whose company owns several licenses of Jira already. He was calling to purchase a brand new license. He had gone through the process of generating an invoice on our website and getting the necessary purchase order from his accounting department. He wanted us to give him a license; afterall, he had the PO and they were a customer with a great track record.
However, our long-standing policy is that we won’t give out a license until we have received payment. That doesn’t jive well with some companies who are used to a different buying process for enterprise software. They’re accustomed to having a sales rep assigned to them, the sales person handles the order and ensures the software is delivered upon receipt of a PO.
That’s what this customer was used to and he was not happy with us; he wanted the license and he needed it quick. I found out later that he had spoken and emailed several people that same day in an attempt to complete the transaction. Ultimately we were able to help him by processing the order via credit card (we accept credit card orders and wire transfers — always have — but that’s not always how companies like to do purchases).
I (and most everyone in company) know that the sales process isn’t perfect. The old saying “you can’t please all the people all the time” comes to mind. We market ourselves as offering Legendary Service and that includes our buying process.
We are always working to improve our processes: a new accounting system and a new ecommerce system are being deployed, and our first San Francisco based “Sales Ops” team member is currently training in Sydney. As a company that has seen tremendous growth over the last 4 years, we’re working hard to scale up our infrastructure at the same time.
Even though we had an angry customer, I honestly think we’re still doing most things right: we don’t haggle with and upsell customers needless services or software, we don’t hide our pricing and licensing, we encourage self-service, and we’re here to help when needed.
I welcome comments and feedback.

A Better Way to Sell Software?