I remember being back in ninth grade English when my teacher taught our class the importance of communication skills. She said that if we couldn’t put into words how we felt, thought or viewed the world, then we would never be able to get our point across and ultimately get what we wanted. Now, that is a somewhat harsh reality for a group of 14 year olds (I realize as I am writing this…) but years later I see that she was absolutely right.
Since starting with Gartner almost five years ago, I have been briefed on application solutions by over 300 vendors and multiple times by many of them. I would say I see at least 5 presentations and demos of new or updated products each week from around the world. The number of times a week that I hear, “we’re the only,” “the best, “better than…” is startling. I can’t imagine having so many “better”s out there in the world – it’d be a circus.
After sitting through a technically impressive briefing this week, I have been thinking to myself: how can you explain why this is “better” to your clients? What I realized is that despite technical superiority, I don’t know that clients would consider what I saw to be “better.” For them, “better” isn’t about technical prowess so much as the tools ability to help them do the task they’ve been assigned with more efficiently or accurately. “More efficiently” honestly doesn’t cut it either for our clients. They want to know if this cuts down on the time it takes them to produce a weekly report, etc.
The lessons of ninth grade all come flooding back to me when I sit through these briefings. “Better” is only “better” if it addresses the specific business need of a person in a specific business role – and if you can’t communicate “better” in that sense then no matter how technically advanced your application is, it’ll never be “better” than anyone else’s.
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