Winning Customers All over the World

 In Building Successful Partner Channels, Entering Foreign Markets, Featured, Podcast

Ugné Kontaré

Soft4 is providing industry-specific software solutions, built on Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The company is located in Lithuania – a country with just 3 million citizens. In just three years Soft4 has expanded its’ activities outside Lithuania and now serves customers all over the world.

In this interview, Ugné Kontaré, who is responsible for global revenue generation with Soft4, explains how they have accomplished global growth, which go-to-market market approach they have chosen and which challenges they have been facing.

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Hans Peter Bech:

I am Hans Peter Bech, and today I am interviewing Ugné Kontaré. Ugne is responsible for global revenue generation with Soft4.

Ugne can you start by telling us: “who is Soft4.”

Ugné Kontaré:

SOFT4 is a provider of industry-specific software solutions, namely:

  • Soft4RealEstate, a solution for commercial and mixed property management companies
  • Soft4Leasing, software for asset finance and leasing companies
  • And we have also built a unique solution for inventory management per the Theory of Constraints, called Soft4Inventory.

All these solutions are built on the Microsoft Dynamics NAV platform.

We are a part of Softera Baltic located in Lithuania, employ a little over 70 people and have been busy with software solutions for almost 15 years.

Hans Peter Bech:

Lithuania is a tiny country, way too small to support the growth rates needed for keeping a software company competitive. How do you manage this challenge?

Ugné Kontaré:

Yes, Lithuania is a very small country, but we are very smart people.

The first ten years we grew the business domestically working closely together with our customers. We are now the leading provider of Dynamics NAV based solutions in Lithuania.

However, we soon learned that businesses around the world face the same challenges and need the same solutions. Our big advantage is that we use Microsoft Dynamics NAV as our platform. Dynamics NAV is available in versions accommodating the differences in the legal requirements for business administration systems in most countries. We add the industry specific solutions on top.

The first international customers found us, and since 2013 we have systematically been exploring ways to reach customers all over the world.

Hans Peter Bech:

What is your go-to-market approach?

Ugné Kontaré:

We work through so-called value-added resellers around the world, Microsoft Dynamics NAV partners who have a very good understanding of the software platform our solutions are built on. We started with a great partner in Canada, and today we have more than 50 partners worldwide, adding around five new partners each year. We help companies from North America to Europe to Asia and Australia deal more effectively with their business challenges.

Hans Peter Bech:

Why did you choose this approach?

Ugné Kontaré:

First, we’d been thinking about SOFT4 potential customers: Customers need someone who can help specify and implement the solution. Customers prefer someone speaking their language, within the same time zone and reacting fast to their inquiries; customers want to use software that is adjusted to local legal and accounting requirements. Who else rather than a local reseller can best meet these requirements?

Another thing, we felt that the resellers could also win from the Soft4 solutions: instead of reinventing the wheel, they could offer their customers a software solution fitting their business well, fast to implement and easy to upgrade. I must mention that distribution and manufacturing are the main industries software providers compete in. With SOFT4 solutions for property management or asset financing, our partners can differentiate themselves, shorten the sales cycle, enjoy better competitiveness, and win loyal customers. In addition, the resellers can benefit from repeatability, as they can complete more projects in the same time compared to typical software implementation projects. This becomes very important when talking about new cloud business trends.

Of course, there was a value for us in this business model, too – we did not need to build an entire infrastructure to gain and serve SOFT4 customers outside Lithuania. We decided to give away some margins in exchange for sales volume and gaining market share faster.

So, we all have a win-win situation: the customers get a well-tested industry-specific solution that meets their needs, the reseller can upsell and complete projects faster, and we at Soft4 get another opportunity to develop and adjust our solutions to new markets and customers and secure a much larger volume of customers.

Hans Peter Bech:

What are the challenges with the indirect approach?

Ugné Kontaré:

In the beginning, it took the partners some time to get to know us and give us their trust. In most of the new countries where we came with Soft4 solutions, we did not have any customers and references.

So, the first challenge was to encourage local customers to believe that Soft4 solutions are capable of solving their business issues, and can solve them better than other alternatives; also that we had to demonstrate that we are a reliable software provider that are in the business for the long term.

The second challenge was to convince the resellers that there is a market for Soft4 solutions and it is worth investing their time in learning a new add-on and a new industry; in these specific industries, understanding the business process is way more important than technology knowledge.

The success came once we started intensive marketing actions in some countries of interest and introduced the first potential customers to the local partners. Our task today is to be visible, promote the SOFT4 brand and keep passing inquiries to our partners.

The Company culture and way of doing business is another important thing to mention. When building the partner network, we must always think about how the new partner will represent our brand, how well and fast they can handle customers’ requests, how well they learned the solution and industry-specific processes to implement Soft4 solutions themselves. And then we must make sure that serving our customers with SOFT4 solutions are an attractive business for the partners. When customers and partners are happy, then we are happy.

Hans Peter Bech:

What are your ambitions and plans?

Ugné Kontaré:

Today we are a fast-growing company with our focus on the customer – so that they can do their business without having the headache of IT and the software they use. We’d like to keep that customer-centric approach and develop software that is fun to use, fast to implement, easy to develop and support, because that’s what all our customers are looking for. Today, we have two targets: firstly, for SOFT4 solutions to become the number one choice for property management, asset finance and leasing customers, and secondly, to encourage new Dynamics NAV partners to join the SOFT4 Partner Network to grow their business and face market challenges.

Hans Peter Bech:

Thank you very much Ugne for this interesting summary of the Soft4 business. If you are interested in knowing more, you will find Ugne’s contact details by the end of this post.

Or you can use the Twitter handle @soft_4

Thank you for listening and have a great day.

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