Best-of-breed technology” – so what?

First-class service” – so what?

These are all features I see written time and time again and unfortunately, they’re completely meaningless.

When I first started studying business at college, one of the first models we were introduced to was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You’ve probably come across it at some point too. Basically, it’s a pyramid that describes the different things that motivate us. Starting at the bottom we have ‘physiological needs’, like food, shelter and clothing. Then moving up to ‘safety needs’, on to ‘love and belonging’, ‘self-esteem’ and eventually ‘self-actualisation’, where we desire to be the best version of ourselves.

The trouble is that when it comes to business, many companies pitch capabilities that they believe sit at right at the top of the pyramid – whereas in reality, they are basic expectations.

Think about it…

Would you really want to work with someone you didn’t trust, who offered second rate technology with a rubbish service?

These things are not differentiators, they are necessities – which means the only time they become important or get noticed is when they’re not there.

How to pitch your benefits right

When it comes to demonstrating that you possess these basic ‘hygiene’ factors, the best way to do it is to show rather than tell.

For example, telling your audience that you’re a ‘trusted partner’ is meaningless. But having a case study where your client explains that you were there working alongside them during their digital transformation, while upskilling their team in the process, demonstrates that you do possess that ‘trusted partner’ quality.

And then, of course, we have the features of your product/service. Yes, in the world of IT and tech, features are important and they should be shared. But to simply list them off doesn’t mean much. To make sure they resonate with the audience, you need to ask a simple question…

“So what?”

Let’s imagine that you’re selling a managed service and one of the features is that someone is available 24/7/365.

“So what?”

Well, if the network falls down on a Sunday afternoon, someone is automatically notified and can start fixing the issue.

“So what?”

Well, the quicker the issue is resolved, the quicker the systems are back online.

“So what?”

Well, for every hour the system is down, each client loses an estimated £10,000.

“So what?”

Well, when that happens, your project sponsor has to tell their boss and ends up feeling like a complete idiot for trusting a partner that clearly hasn’t got a handle on basic IT support.

Hopefully you get the idea – keep asking “So what?” and eventually you start getting to the rich, juicy benefits that actually mean something to someone. So your managed service isn’t about being available 24/7/365, it’s about ensuring your client never looks stupid in front of their boss.

Take a lesson from your child

Do you remember when your son or daughter went through the ‘why?’ phase?

Mine are just about through it now. You’re tearing your hair out because it’s a constant, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?”

They’re never prepared to accept your first answer. No. They keep drilling you until they’ve asked the question 20 times. Children question everything because they’re trying to understand the world and make sense of how things work.

You should do the same in your business. Next time someone comes to you saying:

“Users now have the capability to drag and drop modules within the platform.”

Say to them, “So what?”

If they’ve really thought it through, they should be able to complete this simple sentence:

It [FEATURE], so you can [BENEFIT], which means [VALUE].