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How to sell software to Colleges/Universities

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  • How to sell software to Colleges/Universities

    Would any one have any idea on how to go about selling software to colleges and universities?
    I have created a general type of software for students.

    Any ideas?


  • #2

    Selling directly to the school:

    Here is a blog that talks about directly selling to schools:

    Selling to students:

    Legend (
    A) = most cost and time but the biggest payoff )

    These go top to bottom in terms of cost and time required:

    A) Retail Sales: If it is software that is developed for students individually, I would call on the student bookstore. I had a toy company a few years ago. I sold break apart puzzles (stationary) to the student college bookstore. Most of the time these store managers want to help you...they like new products in their stores. I would love to go in and see the box empty!

    This method, however, would mean you need to create some packaging. You would have to contact a box create a marketing piece for you. Or you could try to find a company that makes stock boxes in your size, and then you contact a decal maker and just put decals on the side of the box. Contact
    Kunaki from my Software Helpers List to make the cds.

    *Important: Learn from my own mistake , put into the manufacturing contract a stop/loss delivery date. You have to remember that you are a small account to a box manufacturer. Put in your contract: packaging must be completed by this date or 10% off contracted price. They are much more likely to meet your finish date. I had sold my puzzles to stores and the packaging was not finished on time.

    B) Bundling: The concept here is that you find a company that will bundle your product with theirs. Often they will use it as a bonus...purchase this book and receive a copy of "enter software title". If you walk around the student book store you can find a company that might want to bundle with you. This is good because you don't have to create any of the packaging. You sell them the right to make copies and include it with their product. Book publishers have done this for years. I had a gift basket company that wanted to bundle my puzzles with their gift basket. This was great because I did not need to create any packaging.

    C) Affiliate: You can also become an affiliate for a company that sells products related to your software. Offer them the software for free download on their website. You earn all of the affiliate commissions using the browser object in the software (their website).

    D) Ads or Public Interest Articles: Ads or public interest articles in the student newspaper...both the college
    newspapers and the high school newspapers. The high school kids are excited about going to college. Not sure what your software does but if it helps them plan, study, would be a good market. Talk about your software with the link to your website repeated several times in the ad or public interest article. I sent a press release/public interest article to a large regional newspaper and got a lot of response for my break apart puzzles.

    E) Article Directories: Articles about the perfect gift for high school grads. Post to article websites.

    Added to post:

    For all of you that are struggling with how to promote you application, watch this video. Even though he is talking about web applications...a majority of the comments apply to our desktop applications. I thought the video was interesting. This is very important for the software developer that is designing his software as a membership website. In other words, you offer your software as a monthly membership to your website, as long as they continue as a member they get the free upgrades.


    In this talk from FOWA London Kevin shares the secrets to and explosive user growth. He covers nine unique strategies that turn passive users into passionate advocates.

    Hope this helps,

    Last edited by Ezshop24; 01-28-2012, 08:05 PM.


    • #3
      Great stuff Paul.



      • #4
        That is great information Paul. Thank you.
        What I am looking to do is to sell a site license to campuses...
        Any Info in that area?



        • #5


          Selling to a college can be difficult without an introduction. What I would suggest is that you go talk to the Dean of the school that is closely related to your software. Ask for an opinion of the software. You can also ask him/her for a reference if you decide to print the marketing materials.

          These professors deal with software/book publishers all the time and they could get you and introduction if they feel the software has merit. You can do it...and it can be very lucrative...but the hoops you have to jump through. It is a lot like selling to the government...lots of paperwork. Each college would be different but you would probably have to do at a minimum a product proposal. I had a college that wanted two years of financial statements from me to sell a box of puzzles in their book store. I said thanks...but no thanks.

          One problem you want to consider: Start ups that do not have the capital to manufacture enough product to fill the initial orders. I think one of the problems you will have is financing. Make sure you have the capital to insure orders can be filled. It can build very quickly. To give you an example of just the box costs for my puzzles. The box would be about the same size as a box for I think the costs would be pretty close.

          This is just the box to hold your product (not the box around the software):

          Die to cut the box $1500.00 (If you choose to manufacture your boxes and not use stock)
          Art work for the box (Marketing) $750.00 - $1000.00
          Manufacturing Costs Printing, Material and Labor to produce (1) pallet of boxes $150.00 - $200.00

          You have fixed costs like the Die and Artwork that become minimal as you manufacture more and more boxes. But you can see that all it adds up.

          These prices are approximate and I sold those puzzles a few years ago. But you can see what start up costs can be like when you decide to manufacture. This is just to create the boxes. You still need the product.

          That is why I think bundling would workout better for you. You have none of the start up costs. Just be willing to give up a large percentage of the profits. But how great...let them take care of packaging, advertising, sales, returns, etc. This is known as licensing your product. A very common practice in business. Here is a link that talks about licensing I would do a little research on specifics for licensing a software product.

          Also, I would join ASP (a software association) You are going to want to protect that software by registering it. Also, they would have lots of information on selling to colleges and universities.

          It can be done. Don't get discouraged. I have done it. I have created a product and brought it to market. You just want to look at all of your options. I would rather receive a check in the mail because I licensed a product...than be on the phone yelling at a supplier because they missed a shipment.
          Added to the post: One other thing I forgot to mention. Get yourself a product rep/sales rep with software as a background. If you look in the back of any software trade magazine you will find product reps/sales reps that are looking to expand their line. This is another option that will take some of that profit. But do you really want to knock on doors and make sales calls versus just ship product. A product rep/sales rep with and established product line and connections in the colleges already will save you so much time. As I got more into the business I would farm out absolutely everything I could. Why recreate the wheel!
          Hope this helps,

          Last edited by Ezshop24; 01-29-2012, 01:23 PM.


          • #6
            I am excellent with Graphics in Photo shop so creating art work wouldn't be an Issue. And I would use,
   or for the fulfillment of the products. The user guide wold be packaged with the software
            as well in pdf. and video formats on the same disc. All of that would cost a little time to make the art work and
            $1 - $1.75 for each disc shrink wrapped in a box plush bulk shipping cost.

            My point is that that part wouldn't really be a problem, at all. (or at least i don't think so :-)

            What software trade magazines do you recommend?

            Last edited by jjacksonweb; 01-29-2012, 06:15 PM.


            • #7


              I would recommend searching these websites:,, or You should be able to find a trade magazine that fits your software category. Look at the back of the trade magazine and you will find the sales reps.

              I wanted to let you know the truth about placing products in stores. Just as an example...I had a potential purchaser of my product that actually wanted me to change the layout of my product before he would purchase. You will get requests for the strangest things. Don't just assume that you can walk in with a box without making some kind of changes. If it is a big enough account you will make the changes.

              Big Box Stores have schematics for the layout of products...they actually take a product based on turnover and profit margin and set the schematic for the product isle. They will ask you about your turn over rates at other stores. If you don't have a big enough margin for them...and your turn over is low...the product is out the door. Best Buy is a good example of this type of thinking. They discontinue products if the turn over rate is low. The grocery industry is known for something as close to payola as you can...just this side of legal. Companies pay for product placement. Companies must buy an end cap to place their product. The Big Box Stores do this by requesting a further discount on product to get you some shelf space.

              They laugh at 1%/10 net 30 you will have to discount much more...some stores are now saying we will take it in on consignment, you can pickup what is not sold at the end of the month. Which actually can work for you as a new product trying to get market share. Use this as your last plan of action if you can't get product placement.

              Here is a good Ezinearticle on product placement: This will point out again why you might want to bundle or at least get a sales rep.

              Hope this helps,

              Last edited by Ezshop24; 01-29-2012, 08:51 PM.


              • #8

                Here is a good example of software packaging and placement on a software marketing blog. Read the other tabs on the page. He gives some good general knowledge on software marketing. This blog offers information on how to market your software. He is also a software marketing consultant. He has some interesting information on pricing your software.


                Example from blog:


                The first "P" of the marketing mix deals with the product. The actual feature sets of the new and existing products won't be covered within this report. See Product Management for more information about defining the product, market research, the Market Requirement Document, etc. Instead we will deal with the positioning, packaging, and format.

                Company Positioning

                As part of our positioning we will be redoing the company logo. The new style will have a hipper, less formal style using brighter, more marketable colors. Preference is given to name treatment since it is stronger whenever the name and logo are combined. If that is not possible, then a logo and mark will be attempted. The logo will also help define the company colors and style.


                In addition, all upcoming products will have new packaging that is in line with the enhanced company and product positioning. All upcoming packaging should follow a few essential guidelines:
                • Tell what it does. Our products should clearly state what they do in their titling and tag lines.
                • Use the bottom half of the box. The product name and key message needs to be located on the bottom half of the package so it can be seen if placed on the bottom shelves in retail.
                • No hidden designs. It is crucial to have a design or picture that clearly symbolizes what the product does. A software box has an average of three seconds to attract and sell a consumer as he passes the shelf. Hidden messages and designs that are not clear are not effective and must be redesigned. If a box designer has to explain what his image means before it is understood, then it needs to be changed.
                • Sell on all sides. The box should be able to sell from as many sides as possible in case it is not "faced" forward by the resellers. Touchstone and CyberMedia containers are the best examples of boxes that can sell from any angle.
                • Sales message. The front or sides of a box should display the sales "tickler" to get a prospect to pick up the box, enough so that in 8 seconds or less they will want to read the back where the concentrated 30 second scanable sales message is delivered. Most messages should also be conveyed in just a few major non-technical points--it is critical to include as much detailed technical information as possible... but not on the back. Select one of the side panels to include all the pertinent technical features.

                As a case in point, Microsoft, the "marketing machine," even made a mistake with their sound card. They had a good sales message but neglected to state whether their product supported internal CD ROM hookups or allowed 16 bit, 44 mhz recording. Consumers would often select another package rather than risk a mistake. Their packaging violated a critical rule: A confused prospect never buys.
                • Colors. We should never forget the attention capability of "blink twice" colors. McDonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell use yellows and reds in their packaging and identification.
                • Screen shots. It is a serious error to release any package without appropriate screen shots. In addition, all screen shots must have call outs so the user understands what he is seeing. Screen shots also allow the vendor to highlight the product's main selling points and key in on unique features.
                • Fold-out box. A box that has a fold out cover is the most effective since it contains a built-in brochure. It also has more real estate so the features can be shown with graphics instead of just text. For a new category like Animal we need all the graphical selling space we can get.

                Product Format

                With the introduction of the new box designs we will also be publishing exclusively on CD ROM format with a coupon to order 3.5" disks. This will allow us to cut our cost of goods and will increase our width of distribution to CD only locations such as Mr. CDROM. CD ROMs are also copied less frequently, especially if the CD is full because of the perceived time involved to transfer 625 meg of data.
                The Widget2 CD will be the first Acme product to include four platforms, MAC, Power MAC, Win3.1 and Win95 all on one CD. This will help defer the cost of printing four boxes and will reduce the cost of platform specific returns; if one platform has weak sales the product can be re-shelved in a different, better-selling section. The license will need to specify that the software can only be installed on one platform at a time. Of course, as always, honesty and conscience will be our primary protection against potential abuse.

                Another advantage of a multi-platform CD is that it will allow us to include additional content (browsers, galleries, shareware, Giget, etc.) at no additional material cost. This approach increases the perceived and actual value of the package and helps to further establish a competitive advantage on the shelf.

                You hear terms from time to time that change like formats for discs...but the marketing information is still the same.

                Example from blog:

                Product Placement (Sales and Distribution)

                The 3rd "P" of the marketing mix deals with product placement--the width of distribution. One of our first orders of business is to dramatically increase the number of outlets ordering Acme product. Acme software is currently available to resellers directly, through Micro Central, Merisel, TechData, and Ingram Micro. It is available to consumers in the major mail order catalogs, Fry's, Micro Center, and the hundreds of VARs.

                Channel Sales

                With the introduction of a product aiming at the mainstream category we will attempt to be stocked by at least the top 50 national locations including: Egghead, Computer City, CompUSA, Elek Tek, J&R Computer World, Incredible Universe, Software Etc. (if still around), Media Play, Best Buy, plus we expect to double the number of our VARs.

                We will also go after the regional software chains (i.e., Computer Palace, Software Warehouse) and the individual software outlets--many that successfully compete with the national chains in their respective areas. Because of our price point and product category we will probably not be able to get into the low end mall locations and definitely won't penetrate the mass merchants such as Target and WallMart.

                Methods To Recruit Resellers

                The national accounts sell-in process should occur fairly quickly, as soon as we print sell sheets. If we need help with any particular accounts we can hire one of several established rep firms to help out. We can recruit the national accounts but will have to rely on the following methods to recruit the regional and independents:
                • Hire a training/recruiting firm. Use a group like MindShare Associates or TempReps to physically visit each site and convert them over one-by-one. These groups will usually sell hundreds of NFR copies to seed the sites they visit. At a typical cost of only $19 to $24 per location--we couldn't do it cheaper ourselves.
                • Attend reseller trade shows to recruit resellers. Shows we have scheduled include both Comdex, both Internet World’s, and both Mac World's. Not only can we talk to resellers directly at the shows but we can also meet with the attending press (especially Computer Retail Week and Computer Reseller News).
                • Conduct reseller postcard mailings. Sent to 8,000 select locations with each new product. We would include our NFR $10 offer to measure reseller response and further seed the channel.
                • Launch a VAR Roadshow. This would be a national roadshow covering the top 15 major cities. The purpose would be to draw attention to the ACE category, cement our alliances and recruit VARs.

                I had to cut a lot out due to limit on definitely visit his website.

                Hope this helps,

                Last edited by Ezshop24; 01-31-2012, 03:04 PM.


                • #9
                  Thomas, can you make this thread a sticky? There's so much good advice in this that we can all benefit from.

                  Thanks Paul.