In the world of enterprise software, there is a constant battle for differentiation.
This statement describes the challenge of competing for customers within the tangible world of feature-to-feature comparisons; it’s also apt in the somewhat more abstract realm of messaging. In the sales process, it is maddening when a product’s real advantages (substance) are obfuscated by a competitor’s marketing claims (style).
For example, Gain Compliance offers cloud-based software in the strictest sense: single-instance, multi-tenant, SaaS delivered solutions that require only a web-browser for use. The advantages of this approach are many: a better user experience, real-time updates which reflect dynamic compliance requirements, better security, no IT involvement, superior collaboration, improved performance.
As our competitors all rely on installed software, Gain objectively offers a superior product – the proverbial “better mousetrap.” Accordingly, sales success should be straightforward.
Alas, not always.
The other guys get paid, too.
In addition to starting from an advantageous position, Gain has spent considerable time (three years) and resources (several million dollars) in a dedicated effort to build its first product. But, as the saying above describes, the competition isn’t sitting on their hands and passively ceding their customers to us.
A good part of their competitive response has been at the margins; but what is lacking in substance has been made up in style. A good example of this is their approach towards their products’ fundamental architecture. Rather than invest the required time and effort to overhaul their products to a cloud architecture to meet emerging market expectations, they opted instead to focus on messaging.
So, despite their products requiring installed software, our competitors’ marketing incorporates portions of the same cloud-driven message we embrace. In short, their products have features that mimic some of the benefits of modern software, but without the full functionality and accompanying level of value.
The bad news is that this message, while superficial and lacking substance, sometimes resonates during a sales pitch. This is particularly true when the claims are made by the incumbents who have long operating history.
The good news is that, over time, substance does win out over style. In the end, the mismatch between the marketing message and underlying product value is eventually resolved.