It’s an easy question isn’t it? But its one that in my experience is so often misinterpreted or wrongly answered by high-tech software vendors through their web sites, marketing materials and meetings with prospects.
When a prospect poses that question of a software vendor, what are they looking to understand? The answer is that they actually want to know what you can do for them. They want to quickly envisage what will be left behind after they have bought software from you.
So an answer like:
“ACME provides KJ8 compliant infrastructure that is compatible with the latest WP* series of standards”
…does not really answer the question “What does ACME Corp do?”.
Consider the situation when a sales representative from a high-tech company engages a prospect in conversation and the prospects asks the question:
“…so what does ACME do”?
Behind that questions is the implication that the prospect wants to know what ACME Corp. could do for him. But instead of providing that information, I’ll wager that the sales rep will list a series of facts about ACME Corp. He’ll start by telling the prospect the name of the company, the product name, the product category and he may also go on to describe some of the features of the product. Like this.
“ACME Corp has recently introduced our DooperSuper product which is an advanced enterprise capability product that features support for the KJ8 standard”.
This is wrong.
Well it’s not wrong, but it’s the wrong time to provide this detail. Remember the context of the question is that the prospect is thinking “What will this do for me?”, “What would I be left with if I were to become a customer of ACME Corp.?”. An answer like the following would be more suitable:
“ACME Corp. helps our customers to reduce their data centre capital and energy costs”
This immediately tells the prospect what they would be left with if they were to become a customer of ACME Corp. and, if they’re interested, they can follow-up by asking for more detail.
So the question remains. Why do so many high-tech vendors not lead with such a value proposition in their marketing communications? The answer I think is two-fold. Firstly, I think then many early marketing high-tech vendors have a very technical audience which means they feel that they should lead with some technical facts rather than translate this to a value statement. This is naive because even the technical audience wants to know what they would get if they were to become a customer.
Secondly, many vendors do not understand the value that they can provide. They’ve never documented the business value enjoyed by their customers.
So here are a few lessons for high-tech vendors:
- Review your current customer successes
- Look for a patten of the benefit or value that you’ve delivered
- Adjust and tier your prospect communication.
- Lead with what your prospects will be left with – what will persist after the sale has been made.
- Add supporting technical detail where relevant.
- Train the sales force to engage prospects in the same way