Where Am I In The Sales Funnel For Your API?
I’m signing up for a large number of new APIs lately as part of a project I am working on. It is pretty normal for me to sign up for a couple new APIs a week, or 10-20 within a month, but right now I’m signing up for hundreds, setting up an application and getting keys for each service. I’ll share more about what I’m working on in future stories, but I wanted to talk more about the on-boarding practices of some of these APIs. It is pretty clear from the on-boarding processes that I don’t rank very high in some of these API provider’s sales funnels, making me not deserving of self-service access, or even a sales call–which is a separate topic I will talk about in a future post.
I’ve registered with a number of high value API providers who have more of an enterprise focus, but also have a seemingly self-service, public API available. After signing up for access, it becomes very clear that APIs are anything but self-service, and there is a sales funnel in play, and I’ve been ranked, tagged, and identified where I am in this sales funnel, and what value I bring as a potential small business–which is not much by usual measurements. I’m pretty well versed in how company’s set up their sales strategy, and have seen many companies think it is a good idea to translate these practies to their API operations. Only targeting the high value customers, and not really giving a shit about the rest of them. It just isn’t worth the resources to go after them, they don’t have the spending capacity of customers you want in your funnel.
I get it. You are right. I don’t have a lot of money to buy your services, and will not become a high value customers. However, I have many readers who are high value customers, and trust my opinion about which services are worthy paying attention to. And guess what? I’m not going to write about your service. I’m not going to include you in my prime time storytelling, and when I do reference your API as part of my research, it will be in the club of shame, and APIs that really aren’t worth your time playing with. My enterprise readers, growing startups, university IT leadership, and government project owners with big budgets won’t ever know about your API, all because you didn’t see me as being worth your time, and your API on-boarding practices are out dated.
In a self-service API world you don’t need to be high touch with the long tail of your API consumers. This is why we have API management in place, with sensibly priced access tiers, requiring monthly levels of access, all requiring credit cards on file. While it frustrates me when companies don’t have a free tier of access for me to kick the tires, I get it. What makes a situation untenable is when I put in a credit card, and I am willing to spend a couple hundred bucks to write a story, build a prototype, or publish a landscape guide or white paper, and I still can’t get access to your resources and understand what is going on. It’s ok. I’m guessing they probably weren’t worth sharing with my readers anyways, and you belong right where you should belong in my API research that gets read by business and IT leadership around the globe.