Category Archives: Positioning

For Example…

When multi-channel data enters the system through the Context Adapter, it can either go through the Data Processing Layer, the Context Service, or the Event Stream Processor.

Depending on which entry path is taken, the data might pass through the Dispatcher and Message Bus, or possibly the Context Gateways and Enrichment Services, ultimately residing in the Core Customer Profile,* which you might then leverage through the Analytics Layer or, really the point of the whole exercise, through the Consumption Layer.

For example…

Mr. Customer, when Sue your consumer sends out a tweet referencing your brand with a few not-so-polite hash-tags, we can capture that tweet, its context, and determine its negative sentiment.  Isn’t that an important insight?

When we start to match up Sue’s Twitter handle with other hints and clues and customer data we’ve gathered through other channels like your web store and her order, we can put two and two together and realize the product was likely damaged in shipping.  Now wouldn’t Sue love to hear from you to rectify the situation?  Wouldn’t her next tweet be in praise of your brand?  Isn’t that the kinds of customer service that will differentiate you from your competition?

Both of these sections tell the same story.

If you’ve got an amazing innovation that took a few ingenious and technological leaps and bounds to create, you’d better give your audience a few examples of how it all works.  They simply haven’t caught up with you yet.  Telling Sue’s story helps your audience realize that there’s a missing piece.  They’ll suddenly know what a Context Gateway is and why they want one.

 

*Only after passing through the Secure Access Layer, naturally.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

Solve the Problem or Change the Game?

Solution Engineer. Solution Consultant.  Solution Advisor.

Different titles for the same role,* but our common skill is taking a matrix of information and experience and solving problems.  When challenged to solve for X, we’ll provide the right answer and we’ll factor efficiency, access, cost, time, and other considerations into our mix.  Solution consulted, advised and engineered.

But.

How often do we think about solving for Y instead?  Can we look at the data and see a bigger picture? Can we suggest a different vision to the customer?

That might be when we become Pre-Sales.

* How many have you had on your business cards through the years?
Tagged , ,

Reversing the direction of What, How, and Why

Surely you’ve run across a messaging structure that helps boil down everything you have to get across into simple steps.  These frameworks are easy to use and help you think while reducing the time and effort required to prepare a customer presentation.  Let’s look at two of them:

Is-Does-Means

If you have a module or a feature, you can quickly and clearly get across what it is, what it does, and then close the point with what that means to your audience, e.g. “my mobile phone is a small, battery-powered mobile device which helps me do email, messaging, and phone calls, which means I can stay in touch with family, friends, and business partners wherever I am.”

What-How-Why

As you prepare your solution and how it specifically applies to your customer, you might find it helpful to write the words What, How and Why on separate pieces of paper and brainstorm through a mind-mapping exercise.  You’ll come out with something like “our product is a call center (what), it handles inbound and outbound communications and manages tickets through to resolution (how), so that you can better serve your customers (why).”

The direction of these structures is from your product to the benefits they provide the customer.  What happens if we play these in reverse?

If you want to stay in touch with your family, friends, and business partners no matter where you are, it would be helpful to have a single device that can help you do emailing, messaging and phone calls, like a mobile phone!”

If you want to serve your customers better, you’ll need to handle inbound and outbound communications and tickets through to resolution.  Our call center product…”

If you want to grab your audience’s attention, start with the value to them, progress through what they’d logically need to accomplish that value, and conclude with your product as the solution.

The Whys and Means will usually jump out at you during discovery.  Flag them.  When you craft your messaging, simply collate and prioritize them.

Tagged , , , ,

Complete, Fully Integrated, End to End

I once had a humorous poster listing Murphy’s Laws on Technology, which included this shrewd observation:

Any given program, while running, is obsolete

…because everything can be improved.  You’re never done.  There’s always something that could be added or taken away; another angle, a new technology, a change in the market that will render your solution, well, obsolete, even if it’s fresh into customer beta.

Claiming a solution to be complete, fully integrated, and end to end is an unnecessary and lazy sales tactic.  Any skeptic in your audience will perk up and start challenging you.

  • It’s clearly not complete.  There’s always something more that customization or competitive solutions can do. But maybe it fits their needs now with room to grow?
  • Fully integrated implies that two systems are as one.  And they aren’t.  They’re two systems brought together through integration technologies and choices.   That the integration is packaged, configurable, and supported is the value.
  • End to end applies to use cases and transactional data in a business process.  What your customer cares about is their use-cases and their business process.  Talk specifically about how your solution handles those from end to end.
Tagged , , , ,

An Interesting Analogy

Our audiences best understand complex solutions and messages through analogies.

There are many brainstorming techniques to help find the right analogy.*  While creative people seem to come up with them on the fly, there may be a better source for analogies:

What are your interests?

Do you play a musical instrument?  Are you a photographer? Is economics or politics a passion of yours?  Can you quote Shakespeare?  Can you explain what a nickel-defense package is?  Have you read the daily comics for twenty years?

Your interests are ripe fruit for an analogy, and your depth of knowledge and passion in these areas will enhance its detail and relevance.  Subject matter expertise in your area can represent subject matter expertise in the customers.  Heuristics** are compatible.

Sharing your interests also improves your relationship with the customer.  You’re human.  You’re thinking.  You’re sharing.

* I once had a seminar where we pulled plastic toys out of a bag and had to use it as the analogy.  It was like a comedy session on “Who’s Line is it, Anyway?”
** Big word, but I think it applies.
Tagged , , , , ,

Five Minute Demo

From way outside the enterprise software space, here is a pair of demonstrations we can learn from.

I would buy this product based on this fundamentally sound,* informative, and compelling demonstration:**

Let’s dissect it just a little:

  • A quick “hello, here’s what we’re going to be talking about”
  • Brief demo on his own terms of the product to give us a taste
  • Educational review of the major features, and what it does
  • Deeper demo showing the real use cases we care about and the resulting variety and power of the product we care about
  • Brief summary, praise, and call to action

There was joy and enthusiasm on the part of the presenter from the opening seconds, and he showed us enough to let our imaginations fill in the rest.  Wouldn’t you love to be able to coax your own sounds out of this unit?  Don’t you want to discover what else it can do?


I wouldn’t buy this product based on this rambling checklist:***

Let’s rip it apart:

  • Hello, here’s what we’re going to talk about
  • Tangential, distracting story
  • Long technical feature-function training course
  • More features and functions
  • Even more features and functions
  • Ineffective and out of place cross-selling pitch
  • Finally, demo!  …Well, ten seconds of demo, then back to the training class and another cross-selling pitch
  • Ten seconds of demo, thirty seconds of explanation; repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Thanks for watching, for more information go to the website

There was no joy on the part of the presenter.  Does he even like playing guitar?  Nothing was left to the imagination, no stone left unturned, and you walk away thinking “that’s all it does.”

* Sure, it could have used a little more editing and another draft.
** I did, actually.
*** From the manufacturer’s rep!
Tagged , , , ,

Your Competition is out there

On YouTube, actually.

While your engagements will keep you busy discovering, preparing, presenting, and following up, it’s a good practice to check out your competition once in a while.

Watch their demos.  Take notes.  Observe what they say versus what they show.  They reveal an awful lot about themselves in a few short minutes.*  See if you can duplicate their use cases with your solutions.

Your customers are watching these demos too**, so you’d better be familiar with the expectations they’ll have of you.  These demos are the table-stakes in the game.  The better ones will set the competitive bar.  Match the competition’s bid, raise ’em, and call.

You should be knowledgeable enough of your competition to do a better job positioning their solutions than they would.

Because you’re the best.

*Or longer.  Customer conference keynotes, training classes, customer stories, future visions, press releases, and more are available to you within a few clicks.
** When your prospective customer searches for videos about your solution, what will they find?
Tagged , , , , , , ,

Self-Justified Perception

Anyone who has been witness to a political argument will recognize the mental contortions and logical leaps the participants will put themselves through to justify their initial position.  Each starts with their end in mind and the debate is merely flogging a dead horse, more entertaining than useful for the witnessing crowd.  Minds are rarely changed.

What is the perception your customer has of your business, your solutions, your position in the marketplace?* What end will they justify throughout your presentation?

If it’s positive, then your job is simply to reinforce.  If you don’t stray too far on your walk through the woods, the customer will see the path for themselves, even through incomplete messages and proof-points.  They’ll fill in the gaps to justify their perception.

If it’s negative, then heaven help you.  You have to change perception and overcome every spike of doubt that enters your audience’s mind.  No amazing features or functions will overcome that bias.  They’ll fill in the gaps to justify their perception.

So you have to set the perception first.  You have to tell a better story than they’ve told themselves, a better story than the competition has told them.  Your audience has to be onboard with your premise before you begin to show the clicks, screens and apps which will solve their problem.

How?  Here are some positioning approaches:

  • Start talking about your current customers.  Find the stories.
  • Empathy and listening to the customer’s problem can be the difference-maker.  Genuine problem solving might be best when the customer’s choice is between you and doing nothing.
  • Show the long term versus the short term, expanding
  • Don’t start with “well, you probably think we’re…” as that will simply remind, reinforce, and solidify their perception
  • “Nobody ever got fired for choosing Big Blue…” if you’ve got the reputation, flaunt it
  • Grab onto the tail of the comet / Elevator is at the ground floor / Be a superstar
  • Platform, platform, platform.  The technology world is always changing.  Your platform is the basis for the next big thing.

Good luck; you have minds to change.

* More importantly, what is your perception of your business, your products, your position in the marketplace?
Tagged , , , , , ,

Walking away

Perhaps the most intimate relationship we develop is with our smart phones.

They are there at all times, in our pockets, in our hands, hooked into our cars, available at a tap and swipe, providing us with communications, information, and entertainment. We check in constantly throughout the day, whenever we find the opportunity; what used to be a smoking break is now a smart phone break.  We honor them by personalizing them, adding protective covers, improving the headsets we work with; we’re slaves to the batteries and perform our recharging rituals with fanatical fervor.

And yet, after long years of devotion to the devices and their branded, fashion-statement, loyalty-laden, get-their-hooks-in-you ecosystems, we can walk away at a moment’s notice and embrace the new.  Technology has made it so that we can end our years of intimacy, divorce and re-marry, by simply holding the power button for three seconds, turning off the old forever and turning on the new, and never looking back.

Enterprise software has also reached the point where our customers can turn off the old, walk away, and embrace the new.

So, what you’ve done for them in the past does not matter; how you extend what you’ve done can differentiate; looking forward had better be as good, and as easy to embrace, as the competition.

Get ready to win them over, again.

Tagged , ,

Third leg of the stool

Your solution can be the logical choice with its features, functions, and technical architecture lined up perfectly with your customer’s needs.

Your solution can be the financial sound choice with reasonable prices, a solid implementation plan, and a bullet-proof return-on-investment business case behind it.

But the third leg of the stool calls for a passionate, emotional reason for doing the project in the first place.  It might be solving a pain, it might be enabling a vision, it might be some kind of political win for one of the players;  if your customer can’t express and you can’t mine the reason they’ve gotta do it, then it won’t happen.

People don’t buy into a timeshare because it’s a good investment; they envision themselves with with a week or two reserved in Aspen and Miami every year.

When qualifying the deal, determine the passion and satisfy it.  The customer will move mountains to make the functional and financial justifications fall into place.

Tagged , ,
%d bloggers like this: