A few weeks ago, I shared some data in a post on a different take on differentiation. That data reflected the most important criteria for evaluating technology providers for line-of-business buyers.
Then late last week, i was checking things out in my twitter feed when I saw this from Maureen Blandford (link to the conversation here):
Now, I find Maureen’s commentary interesting and this one brought me back to that post. While the most important things aren’t Maureen’s exact list, they are pretty close (and I’d include the humans before the sale in the mix).
But beyond that, it made me think about the other end of the spectrum. The things that these line-of-business buyers felt were least important (note: least does not mean unimportant–they just aren’t top of mind). The bottom 3:
- Offers shortest time to results
- Offers the lowest purchase cost of the solution
- Has preferred status with our organization
Maureen, basically nailed it. But I’d say this is primarily true for business buyers, and likely for situations where they are looking at technology that helps them gain competitive advantage. If it’s technology that “everybody uses” and is largely commoditized, think many traditional IT purchases, then these factors might be more important.
But the contrast is clear. If you help me innovate, help me differentiate, and don’t cause me pain from having to change everything else I’m doing (i.e. work with the stuff we have (integration)), then that is more important than being cheap. Oh, BTW, the “messy middle” of these factors is a collection of things that are very much “vendor risk” oriented.
The one consistent theme on pricing that we do see in all of our analyses is a desire not to be surprised. Surprises are when your price is totally out of line with the market–and you have not built an expectation of that in your messaging and branding. Or, when you get later in the opportunity and start to introduce new things that the customer has to buy that they weren’t expecting. I could go on but you get the picture.
Vendors need to think about the context in which their technology is used and move away from tired themes that don’t resonate. There may be times when price matters, but buyers, while still challenged to buy effectively, are more aware that price is not the only factor in decision-making.