This post is sponsored by New Relic, and written by Lew Cirne, Founder and CEO.

My vision for the next generation of enterprise software leaders is this: the product you deliver should be a joy to use. Customers should fall in love with it, be able to acquire it on their own, and have the ability to rapidly implement it without having to interact with someone at your company. This reduces the sales costs by an order of magnitude, which can be passed on directly to the customer. Up front, you don’t have to spend the resources convincing people that they need your product. Nor do you have to make the significant investment in dollars and time installing, configuring and training your customer’s app teams how to get value from the product.

Most enterprise software companies think about how their product will be used after it’s installed, configured, and people are trained on it. The next generation of leaders will spend just as much (if not more) time thinking about and investing in that very first interaction with their product. Immediately after the customer makes the decision to try the product, the very first moment they interact with it should be magical. In today’s market, if you’re not wowing them immediately, they’re on to something else.

Peter Yared said it well at the recent Cloudbeat 2011 conference: the big shift in the cloud is the sales model … not necessarily the functionality of the product. Create a product that delights customers, yet lowers the cost of delivery, deployment and ownership. At the end of the day, if you can deliver a product your customer love, it not only creates compelling value for your users but also for your shareholders.

Here’s the video of my fireside chat with Yared at CloudBeat 2011: