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“We Chose The Vendor With The Most Complete Solution”

by David Brock on November 28th, 2018

I just read a report, “The Mood Of The B2B Buyer.”  The results weren’t surprising, reinforcing most of the other research I see.

There was one piece that provoked me to reflect.  It was the response to the question, “In what circumstance might you opt for a more expensive solution to address a specific business need or pain point?”  53% of the respondents said, “If the vendor had a more complete solution.”

It’s not at all surprising, but I can imagine thousands of marketers, sales enablement, and sales professionals salivating at that statement.  I can just see how the majority will respond, “Let’s inundate them with features, functions, feeds, and speeds….”

I can see websites with the feature comparison charts–you know the ones that I’m talking about.  Usually, it’s a long laundry list of features the vendor thinks are important (the stuff that’s in their products) with columns comparing “our solution,” to the alternatives.  These are always constructed in a manner that our solution has twice as many boxes checked as the alternatives/competition.

Often, I go to the websites of those competitors, they have a similar checklist—some of the same features, but a lot different.  And their solution always has twice as many boxes checked as the competitors.

Sales people love these comparisons.  They take them to the customers claiming, “Our solution is much more complete than the alternatives.  After all, we check off twice as many boxes….”

Inevitably, there are the demos, which most likely end up being “death by feature overwhelm” experiences for the customers.

Somehow, all of us “pushing” a particular product interpret completeness of solution as the product with the most features, functions, bells, whistles, feeds, and speeds wins.

And they inevitably miss the point, pissing customers off, causing them to turn off or go somewhere else.

The issue is, completeness of solution has nothing to do with the number of features, functions, etc., that we can overwhelm the customer with.  It only has to do with the customer’s problem and what they are trying to achieve.

Customers evaluate the completeness of a solution by how well it helps them solve their problem.  They assess value based on the ability to solve the problem, along with the risk, ease of implementation, and a number of other things.

Too often, sales and marketing are oblivious to this.  Instead of focusing on understanding the customer problem and the “completeness” of the solution in solving the problem, they inundate the customer with more–often arguing, because we offer more, we create greater value and we can charge more.

Too often, sales and marketing, forgets that “more” is not helping solve the problem, in fact it might be hindering the customer in solving their problem.  It may make the solution more confusing, more difficult to implement/use, create more risk or exposure.

I’ve told the story before, but in a prior role, I was evaluating a software solution for my sales team.  The sales people for the vendors we were considering kept inundating my team and me with their laundry lists of features and functions, using the comprehensiveness as an indicator of completeness of solution.  After many pitches/demos where sales people went through endless functions that were meaningless to me, I finally said, in frustration, “We don’t need, we don’t want all that ‘extra stuff!’  It’s overhead and adds to the complexity and cost of implementing your solution.  Please remove it, or in the very least don’t charge us for them, we don’t need those functions, so we won’t pay for them…..”

You can imagine how the sales people reacted.  Interestingly, rather than focus on our organization’s needs and demonstrating the completeness of their solution in the context of what we needed–ignoring all the other capabilities we didn’t care about; they started coming back with deep discounts—which I gladly took advantage of.

What they missed was, I wasn’t concerned about their pricing, I was concerned about the completeness of the solution in addressing the needs of our organization.  I would have payed full price (OK, I would have negotiated some discount), but I wanted to understand that their solution would more completely address what we were trying to achieve than the alternatives.

Completeness of solution is critical to the customer!  The survey shows 53% of respondents are willing to pay more for completeness of solution.

But we get this wrong, it’s all about what completeness of solution means to the customer, not how many features, functions, bells, whistles, feeds and speeds we can inundate the customer with.  As is usually the case, sometimes, less is more.

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