We are working on a new product. Can you name it?

There is something to say about SolarWinds.

First, let me set the record straight. I have joined SolarWinds in January as Sr. Director of Business Strategy and I am probably still drinking the Kool-Aid. Having said that, one of the reasons I choose SolarWinds over an executive position at an early stage start-up was that I was very intrigued by their business model.

SolarWinds sells IT Management software to companies of all sizes without any sales rep in the field. They don’t even have a professional services organization. They market their products on the web and they close each transaction over the phone. We are talking a lot of them. Think big volumes.

This is quite different from the traditional enterprise software world I come from – lengthy sales cycles where most of the Product Marketer’s efforts are focused on enabling the field, writing up ROI documents and keeping its fingers crossed at the end of the quarter when the bulk of the bookings happen.

So what’s different about SolarWinds?

It starts with the product. Each product solves a very well-known set of issues for which users need a solution today. And they are very price attractive too. That makes the job for everyone else much easier. Marketers don’t have to come up with complex jargon or lengthy collaterals. They can focus on driving demand and customer acquisition. Sales don’t have to explain what the product does nor do they have to come up with fancy product demos. They can focus on closing each transaction, one at-a-time, all day long.

So how do you find out what issues your users need to solve today?

You ask them. SolarWinds Product Managers greatly rely on a community of 100,000+ users to identify needs and test new ideas. But it does not stop at the ideas or features level. At SolarWinds, there is a strong belief that you should not use catchy branded names because they don’t mean anything in and of themselves. Instead, they want the name of their products to be very descriptive because that’s how buyers will search for it on Google (obvious, right?). So they ask their users for suggestions : We are working on a new product. Can you name it?. And they get a lot of them. Why? Because SolarWinds users are also brand advocates. They truly have a say in the many aspects of product development and go-to-market strategy. Most importantly SolarWinds Product Managers are manically focused on making sure the product user experience is above the pack.

Why? Because at the end of the day it’s all about the product.

BTW – if you are on the set for a new adventure in Product Marketing or Product Management, and want to explore this fascinating business model, check the open positions they have, or shoot me an email.


Image Credit:  Photos by Mavis

4 thoughts on “We are working on a new product. Can you name it?

  1. Bertrand,

    Thank you for sharing SolarWinds’ approach. It must be a refreshing change. 

    Selling enterprise software as big lengthy deals through large sales organization is going to disappear. It’s just a question of when.

    1. Giles, 

      It is quite a refreshing approach indeed and I will do my best to share additional insights over time. 

  2. Funny, one of the main reasons I recently joined SolarWinds is because of the business model. Large enterprise software deals have too many potential points of failure, many of which are beyond your control. The typical enterprise sales model also takes a big hit when there is churn in the sales force or at the leadership level.

    I still have a ton to learn, but I believe SolarWinds model and core operating principles reduce execution risk failures that are common in enterprise software companies.

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