View Full Version : Commercial direction

25-Jul-2013, 10:06 PM
Recently I had in a forum a very hard discussion with a competitor.

A company asked for software ( not exactly of our type, but near ) and I explained that the right thing is to see the demo, and don't be influenced by the quality appearance. That often the price difference pays for buildings, marketing and racing sailboats but not a real quality product. And sometimes a too much expensive product can hide salaries of many people because the software is problematic.

This was like gasoline, and the opposite comercial chief said that more employees/expensive = better service, and with pulled patronizingly explained that they are in another league. Here in Spain we call these people ghosts to name a pompous without foundation. As is usual, was unable to explain what distinguished him technically in the rest of the debate, and his relation quality / cost for each client. And reached ridiculous arguments like possible new massive problems like the effect 2000 as a desperate escape . I liquidated this explaining some habitual abusive practices, that I imagine were very accurate with his model of business, and he chose to leave. :p

But the heart of the matter is that you can't be there always, and the clients believe to these "ghosts" if nobody is there to offer an alternative way.

My question is that this type of comercial is of that brands that put themselves medals like to be Mercedes, Jaguar or Rolls, when the code does not know whether it is gold or aluminum. Is only well or bad code. But the ghosts sell that they are better because their are expensive... as they use better quality tools. All of we know that they uses Microsoft like us and worst tools. But we have not a commecial force to explain this.

How to break this that has been cemented for many years ?

A possibility is to raise the prices. But you traverse the risk of losing to good part of your clients and of not being capable of catching lovers of ghosts. ( Probably they are ghosts too ). And a raise of price ( more in a crisis ) It does not suppose necessarily a change of opinion of the public in a product, and more... can be a negative opinion.

I am sure that the only exit is to promote more and better VDF towards out. This is... It is ridiculous that this ghost bandages better his product for using SQL or Oracle, when it should be speaking about his language and it does not even mention it. To promote VDF is the first step to create a quality image for tool, and of there it will be possible go on to a qualit image of our final products. Then, there will be able to be a raise, and to activate this circle price-image.

What do you think? What can we do for our part?


Mike Cooper
26-Jul-2013, 04:22 AM
Hi Javier

The truth is simply sometimes you will win a deal over the "ghosts" ... sometimes you won't

I would start by reminding your prospective customer that big companies serve their shareholders, but small companies serve their clients. Then back it up with a big collection of references. Small companies have the ability to be quicker to adapt to specialty needs or market changes and to survive economic turndowns (assuming proper fiscal responsibility). For our accounting software (to use an example): our main competing product has changed ownership 5 times in the 22 years since I released the first version. The customers that use our product still call the same source of support whereas the people who bought the competition get a totally different support model about every 3 to 4 years.... But in the end, my competition sells way more than we do... and that is good, because I win the customers who are looking for the "real" product and are not tricked by the "ghosts" as you call them.


26-Jul-2013, 06:59 AM
Good discussion. I think what Javier is saying is that Data Access needs to make VDF better known in the world of computing. But if you look at the scheme of things, this will probably not happen. It hasn't happened in the 30+ years of Dataflex. And that is not a worry because Mike is right. The smaller companies ability to innovate has been their protection over all these years. If you think about all the competing products to Dataflex since 1980 - and then list the ones still doing business today, it's astounding how few are still around.

A point I liked to make over the years to "ghosts" and "doubters" is that you really can't tell what a product is written in unless you own/write or buy the source code. And it really shouldn't matter much as long as the software is cost effective, solves the problem, can be maintained over a long enough period of time and can be improved without breaking. Dataflex has proven to be meet or exceed on all fronts. Imagine any other high level development platform that you can still compile and run code from 30 years ago? I can't...

Mike Cooper
26-Jul-2013, 07:48 AM
Well said Chuck

Bob Cergol
26-Jul-2013, 07:59 AM
I think its a mistake to focus on the language the application is written in. That argument cannot be won -- unless you are Microsoft or IBM or Oracle.

The focus has to be on the solution to a problem. Who provides the best solution to the problem.

No problem -- no solution, or solution is to a problem different than the prospect perceives, then no sale.

It is important what backend DBMS the data lives in -- which is why its important to move away from embedded Dataflex tables to widely known, widely recognized back-ends that have an "ecosystem" around them. Draw attention to that -- not a programming language that hardly any non-programmer has ever heard of. When language was important to a non-technical prospect, my answer was "a class library derived from C++" and most were happy with that.

At the end of the day, too many decision-makers for purchases are not only technically ignorant -- they also don't comprehend what their fundamental problems are. They only know a few "points-of-pain". So when they hear "tech-talk" or "look at all my wonderful features and functionality" all they can hear is "bla, bla, bla". Therefore they default to the old "nobody gets fired for buying..." IBM, or Microsoft, or the 1000-pound gorilla in the application space. The creative, small supplier, offering superior functionality and support is perceived as a risk to them because they also know that the real cost of the application is getting it implemented. They are easy believers in "just pay us a ton of money and we will save you from yourself..." I suggest you offer to take a little less of their money and also promise to make them safe and successful.


Bob Worsley
26-Jul-2013, 08:07 AM
At the end of the day, too many decision-makers for purchases are not only technically ignorant -- they also don't comprehend what their fundamental problems are. They only know a few "points-of-pain". So when they hear "tech-talk" or "look at all my wonderful features and functionality" all they can hear is "bla, bla, bla". Therefore they default to the old "nobody gets fired for buying..." IBM, or Microsoft, or the 1000-pound gorilla in the application space. So true. The word "Micro$oft" seems to make the difference to the uninformed, how can you go wrong? They'd rather pay 10 times the development costs for less result for some kind of imagined security. I think it's a reluctance to do the homework that several have mentioned above -- look into the smaller businesses and see how they can do it better. Much better...

26-Jul-2013, 02:59 PM
Do you know what I am thinking reading you ? That all of we in different countries and markets, suffer exactly the same. Your comments demonstrate very well that you know very well these type of seller.

The problem is that you can search other ways or change to SQL or try what you want. They will invent another excuse, and their marketing will drown any reply. Sometimes seems that the managers don't know/understand nothing what are they buying. They only read a superficial press and they remain with concepts like SAAS ( now is this, tomorrow other ) and they buy it. And these ghosts sell exactly what the press sell.

The end of this way, if we are brave to want to see it, is that it will go to worse. Because more sales of them = major lying marketing from them. In fact in my case, my software is better than other from greater companies. But the customers preffer the others paying a price much more higer. Why ? The commercial pression and presence. We have not commercial force. Amplifiers to knock down these charlatans.

Chuck, you appoints very accurate ( as I believe too ). This happened 30 years ago, and I putted exactly your example discussing another point of this seller. That he needed much people to pass from SCO to Microsoft. I said " Yes, as you say we did it only between 4 persons. Because it is evident that you do not know what means language multiplatform. We avoid this cost to our clients with the simple change of our licenses of the language without touching anything".

But this fight and thousand more are not going to solve anything. And I believe that we must gain to them in their own terrain. The image of quality tool brand. Because the functionality is gained.

I understand that VDF cannot promote his image like Oracle, just because the difference of price. It is paradoxical that so many DAW like we, we are in the same circle. I believe that there has come the moment to return the favor to them, and to start publicizing their image in all the forums that we can, comments, image of our companies, and in any communication that we do. Demonstrating that for rascals ... we.

We might begin thereabouts, and see what happens. And DAW ... you might mark some indications to structure good this push if you see it of interest.

What do you think ?

Mark Powers
26-Jul-2013, 04:01 PM
I'll put in my 2 cents worth, but thats about all it may be worth. While I have blamed DAW for it's lack of marketing the name, maybe we (I) share some of the blame. Maybe we should have a "Powers by WebApp" logo on our web site or a "Powered by VDF" on our VDF application to show more people what we are using. If you clicked on the logo it would take you to a more indepth description of what we are using to build our app. Maybe DAW could provide a canned link that we could all link to that would give the description. DAW has WebApps in countless markets on the web and if all of us did this, maybe it would make some difference?


Garret Mott
26-Jul-2013, 04:07 PM
From the bitmaps folder:


However, your point is well taken!

I must admit I haven't used it. Having one like it on WebApps makes even more sense.

26-Jul-2013, 08:27 PM
Yes, I have long time ago a subpage in my web for that:


And I was thinking like you say to put the bitmap in the startup of the program and / or in the ABOUT menu option. The excuse can be like in the old DF revisions where appeared the client license number. If this can be done thru a command, we can show the license and the bitmap in the entrance user / password dialog.

But we can make a more active push and FREE !!

We read or write in different forums. There are a lot of Java, HTML and other forums where a lot of developpers are missed with a mix of tools so they don't know VDF. Is so easy like eh... Do you know this ? Or if you are inspired, write.

Links, keywords and text in our web pages referenced to VDF, Visual Dataflex, Data Access Corp to appoint to dataccess.com in google quality links. If you search now, is ridiculous that the low number of quality references permit that appear links of people only searching help to pass data from VDF to other databases/languages.

Move the social networks forums. The linkedin is stopped. Maybe a lot of works of the DAW people could be published there too. There is a lot of good content to publish.

Mention each new license obtained for new clients. Now with the crisis is a bad moment. But it would be nice. For our customers is nice publicity to appear in tecnology news. The "Success cases" now is not well presented. Is disordered, there are not movement, and think that must be to present both to humble people and to very important people. A bad layout is not admissible for some type of people, because thay want something to be proud of show for all type of public.

A friendly manager of a newspaper said me, you don't know how the people like to appear in the photos. It's not only a question of vanity, it is good for the curriculum. Now let's imagine the proud that a manager must feel if he appears in front of their competition, mentioned in an international publication of top technology. Because DAW... you are top technology... or not ? This cruised publicity runs very well.

Flex-news. I miss a lot Flex news that must be online.

Some of this can be found in dataaccess.com. But too much condensed and hidden only as one text line link in the web page. The page is nice, but it is not a bit humble for everything what it contains? In other companies they would open more exposed the contents and would do 20 pages with the content of your... and maybe there are content to make 3 or 4 different content sites.

Much of these points are been started.... but it stop.

The new videos are a good idea. But are only 2. You must to open a youtube channel and create more. And with much more serious content than customers saluting. For example that opportunity would have been good for make a more in-depth interview, how VDF has improved its business ... the long time as customers... the tranquility of an evolutionary product and stable ....

VDF from Brazil (in Portuguese) has been making a good job with the videos. But with all my respect to them.. the absence of videos in english for an end user searching VDF in youtube, can suppose to think that VDF is a brand from Brasil, and not a North American bussines. Please that nobody takes offence. I would say the same thing if instead of Brazil it should happen with my country Spain. North America continues having and more in the international business a special glamour. Nonetheless I insist that the work of the people of Brazil in this field is magnificent.

Other good idea would be to create a video showing the history of DAW. This is a GREAT idea for the people that never has known you.

At the end, all these points will be cruised references in Google that will call the attention of publishers. And if not... the great publishers have now forums. Now the journalist have to read critiques in their own houses. This is a VERY important point. Now they are exposed to the critique. PC Magazine like others, owe us 30 years of omissions. I already have tried to call the attention one ... and it works .. because it is logical and is true.

More ideas ? Probably there is a second cheap step but not free, that is the merchandising. Posters of DAW to put in our offices. Nice, beautiful, spectacular. That make it attractive to brand and give customers the idea that this is serious. I don't know... objects like the VDF logo into a transparent resin box to give to our customers, to be putted in their desks and their visitors think ... my brand costs me a fortune and does not give me these things. Or flags ... I don't know. I have not studied marketing.... marketing at a moderate level but some type of marketing.

In any case all these work can be useless if it is not coordinated. On the other hand, if we all put a granite of sand, it can turn into a movement that calls the attention. Sorry for this novel, it is the product of too much coffee. I would prefer to listen ideas from you. Between all, we can create a new trend.

Mike Cooper
28-Jul-2013, 07:48 AM
Good point Mark....

I will start putting the Powered by VDF bitmap in my apps.

Nils G. Svedmyr
28-Jul-2013, 02:13 PM
I agree as well, Mark! Just started incorporating the "Powered by VDF" to my About dialog(s) today!

28-Jul-2013, 08:07 PM
And we, at the entrance user / password.


30-Jul-2013, 12:00 PM
Like a lot of developers here, I wore multiple hats a few years back (I wear just a few less today) and I was involved in a lot of sales work. Of course every market is different, but in my experience, not everyone asked what language is your software written in (maybe 5-10%) and out of these only a handful was VDF even an issue. Now it is much more likely that the prospect is going to ask what database your software uses, because the key thing for the higher end/sophisticated customers is not what language the software is written in but how to handle the 5% of the requirements that the software may not cover (that are unique to their business). Can they get access to the data if they need some custom integration, report writing, etc.?

30-Jul-2013, 02:00 PM
The Business of Software by Michael A. Cusumano is an excellent book that covers strategy for software companies in detail, particularly for enterprise software companies. I highly recommend it for any developers here who have not read it.

When the subject of language/development system comes up with prospects, I think it is handy to have two or three specific, concrete advantages that you can throw out (it's a good idea to have more than that ready, but mention just the ones that may appeal most to the prospect you are talking to--they won't remember everything you say). For instance, some of the points I like to mention:

* Continuity. When we upgraded our customers from our DOS-based to Windows-based applications, using VDF meant that with the same back end database we could easily migrate all of our customers' data. Our competitors had a much harder time and/or offered no data migration options. And we didn't need to retrain our programmers in a new and unfamiliar language/framework/

* Scalability. By using different back end databases (from embedded to free MSSQL to paid MSSQL) we can just as easily market to a small company with one user as a large company with 20-25 users. (This one was critical when one of our competitors effectively abandoned a portion of their customer base by focusing on larger businesses.)

* Rapid Development. VDF support rapid development and our small release/zero defects/extreme programming development model, allowing us to innovate and deliver new features to customers quicker than our competitors.

etc. Of course your situation/market will vary, but if you can translate why you use VDF and the advantages that it allows you to provide to your customers, that can turn using an "unknown" language like VDF into a big positive. At Synergy, Chip said (more than once) something along the lines of "DAW is successful when we produce products that help our customers to be successful" and that philosophy can extend down to our customers as well.

30-Jul-2013, 09:09 PM
Very interesting other extracts from the book. I have requested it. If the business of software was like others, it would not be necessary this book. But in another extract says something like that we think that counts over all the technology and the tools. But we buy, sell and charge. And as business this part continues counting more than the other.

Then, I believe that this confirms one point. You can be developer or commercial. But to do the two simultaneously you need 2 lives.

5-Aug-2013, 09:54 AM
I am from Singapore. I have been using dataflex for many years and have written dataflex application that help my users for more than 10 years without problem. I am amazed by the quality of this product and at the same time puzzled why this product is not as popular as other product in the market. I totally agree with the "Powered By DataFlex" Bitmap. but I believed it is the marketing and exposure that it is lacking. would like to recommend dataflex to look into the area of exposure or even preparing future developers by looking into the school education as a mandatory subject in School. This can be done by first for eg : tying up with all the existing developers in the different countries and create a WIN WIN scenario. for example : food for thoughts. come to a agreement with all developers to allow them to be the distributor of their countries. Dataflex to write up a course book , Distributor to promote on the school course penetration of their country. In this way , I believe , if the campaign works , we will have a lot of graduates talking and spreading the words of bible. At the same time the distributor get a cut out of the Book Sale and also the licenses bought as the software gain its exposure. Dataflex not only gain its exposure but also should see its revenue increase. This will be a Win Win scenario. do not park on the distributor who are waiting for sales , but those who would want to be a part of Dataflex growth. That is my opinion. Hope it does not offend anybody. if it does , it is not intentional. I would gladly be a part of this campaign. Michael Mah
Netsoft Business Systems Pte Ltd (Singapore)

8-Aug-2013, 04:46 AM
Michael, I agree with you. I am from Singapore too. Each time I proposed a system and use of VDF, client gave me a doubtful look. DataFlex?? They had not heard of VDF and immediate concerns is how will they get further support if I am not able to support them because there does not seem to be any programmers using this development tool in Singapore and Singapore is one of the Asian country with highest IT usage with lots of government support. The following excerpt is a section from Infocomm Development Authority, a Government agency. http://www.ida.gov.sg/Infocomm-Landscape/Facts-and-Figures ** extracted from IDA site: "The iSTART:ACT (Accelerate & Commercialise Technology) programme is a grant scheme that aims to encourage and assist Singapore-based start-ups to accelerate technology commercialisation and catalyse go-to-market activities by leveraging internationally-proven technologies. iSTART:ACT focuses on enhancing start-up business viability by leveraging established technology to overcome the valley-of-death phase that start-ups face.
Through the programme, we hope to seed a bigger pool of successful start-ups that are both innovative and commercially viable not just in Singapore, but in the region as well.
To be eligible for this grant scheme, the applicant company must:

Be developing an ICT product or solution
Partner another company to leverage its technology IP for further development
Have at least 30% local ownership (Singapore citizens or PR)
Be less than 5 years old with no more than 25 employees" - Gareth (GL Technologiesn Pte Ltd)

Mark Powers
8-Aug-2013, 09:40 AM
I was hoping DAW would chime in and give us a standard link that the "Powered by..." could go to?? Would that be what we wanted or should we make our own?

Richard Hogg
8-Aug-2013, 06:39 PM
I think DAW should chime in on this one.

Also I'm amazed at how hard it is to buy a simple thing like the "Discovering Visual Dataflex" book online. You have to send off an email, then someone sends an email back to tell you the price and then you have to send your details back again. Add to this time zone differences for some people. I can buy 100 books on .NET/Ruby/Java etc etc development from the US or UK and have them here in a few days and I'm in Australia. I guess you could extend this to buying the Studio and licences as well. It's amazing that in this day and age there is no ecommerce facility and DAW are trying to market and promote a data centric web development tool, it doesn't really gel.

Actually I just looked on Amazon and there are two listings for books on VDF, one for VDF5.0 and one for VDF9.0 and they both say unavailable. That's a turn-off for any newbie straight away.

I think one of the big lessons of recent years is it is imperative to make it EASY for people to buy your "stuff". Easy to use web site to purchase your "stuff" (what a great advertisment for the WAF and a great place to put a "Powered by VDF Web Application Framework" logo) and EASY to get the "stuff" to the customer once they have bought it. We have seen this in Australia with online shopping. Some traditional places (mainly big department stores) just don't get it and they are struggling and some do get it and are thriving BOTH as a physical shopfront and an online presence. It's because they are very, very accessible to the customer to buy their "stuff".

Anyway I'm not trying to be negative as I know DAW do a great a job and are very supportive of the VDF community but I think some of the basic "new economy" business lessons are missing here if you are looking at getting new developers in. Also I think this forum and the various conferences around the world are a great plus as well. I mean for a lesser known product it certainly has the planet covered in this regard :)


Vincent Oorsprong
8-Aug-2013, 11:00 PM

Regarding the Discovering Visual DataFlex book; We looked at online stores like Amazon but given the fact that the volume is low and the production costs are pretty high it would make selling online very pricy. We don't want this, and we don't think you want that too. Selling via such sites adds about 60% to the current costs. BTW; shipping takes more time that the communication about your purchase.

9-Aug-2013, 05:13 AM
Ahh the joys of e-Books ! I'd buy it if it was $9.99 USD and I could download it and read it on Kindle. Or add it to my library on Safari Online.

Garret Mott
9-Aug-2013, 05:20 AM
It could even be a 29.95 e-book. Add a link to a DAW site where you can pay via PayPal & immediately download it. That'd still be better than the current method.

However - having it available electronically on Amazon would also do a huge amount to spread the word - IOW it'd be great marketing.

Jim Albright
9-Aug-2013, 09:54 AM
Each time I proposed a system and (the) use of VDF, (the) client gave me a doubtful look. DataFlex?? They had not heard of VDF and immediate concerns (are) how will they get further support if I am not able to support them because there does not seem to be any programmers using this development tool ...

I too get this complaint, even from my existing customer base. It seems like we are programmers with paper bags over our heads, and therefore, cannot be identified. Except for those who contribute to this forum, I am unaware of who else is out there.

9-Aug-2013, 10:08 AM
The worst is when you explain it has been around for 30+ years and they respond with "must be a reason it never caught on..."

Garret Mott
9-Aug-2013, 10:14 AM
My answer to that is that they don't have Gates-type $ to advertise. That gets a laugh & usually lets us move on. Sometimes I explain how its "more widely used in other countries" - which also helps.

Jim Albright
9-Aug-2013, 11:00 AM
Or maybe, "It is the programming tool I choose to use for many reasons...."

Vincent Oorsprong
9-Aug-2013, 12:20 PM

We are looking at an electronic publication but experiments with e-readers showed that this is not the right format. We are looking at tablets instead.

But first let's find time to update the Discovering Visual DataFlex to v17.1 first! Still working on this.

9-Aug-2013, 01:23 PM
I use a Kindle app on my iPad. And I am a long time subscriber to Safari Books Online. They offer PDF and HTML views of the books. Very nice format.

Jim Albright
9-Aug-2013, 01:51 PM
There are programs that will convert regular pdf to eReader format.

9-Aug-2013, 10:08 PM
Nice to listen that.

"Discovering Visual Dataflex" had to me the same cost like "Ships in the Spanish Fleet". A4 with hard covers, illustrations, plans, and the introduction of one admiral.:D


9-Aug-2013, 10:44 PM
My answer to that is that they don't have Gates-type $ to advertise. That gets a laugh & usually lets us move on. Sometimes I explain how its "more widely used in other countries" - which also helps. I usually explain that way too and show them the success stories at DAW site and also the community that supports each other. But hard to convince as there are not so many sites in Singapore, it is really a very good product and supportive community and hope VDF does catch on here in Singapore where it is missing lots of action.

21-Aug-2013, 05:35 AM
Matt. Very good book. I have been much time searching wrong things in my work model, but who can explain me if don't work here ? My workers say all is fine, my customers say all is fine... ? Your referenced book explains exactly what is happening without know me. A very strange situation. But of incredible value.


27-Aug-2013, 12:08 PM
I have tried to put links to http://www.dataaccess.com/promos/2013/vdf171_released_email.html but seems that certain Linkedin's forums ( not all ) take this as a "promo" inmediatly and apart the link to a separate place. Maybe the "promo" word in the path ?

HTML5, Java, WEB designers... are only a few places where are a lot of developers fighting to make what you offer easily.