There are plenty of historical examples of good solutions being buried by inadequate or outright wrong sales and marketing tactics. As an analyst, I often talk to the marketing, marcom or AR/PR department of a company and think they could do their solution more justice. Normally, it is little things; sometimes, not so much.
But there is one industry-wide thing that I would like to see changed because it impacts all of us and is endemic.
We don’t want to hear about your five biggest customers. We’re thrilled that you sold into several Fortune 100s. But you spent those five slides of your presentation basically saying the exact same thing five times: “We sold into a Fortune 100!” (or 500, whatever). You lost the opportunity to expand the message to “… and we support all organizations.” The idea that supporting a company with a run rate larger than most nations is in any way relevant to supporting small-to-medium-sized enterprises is mistaken. Talking about an example of a large customer helps us to understand scalability and support levels. Then, we want to know how that works for the rest of the market because most organizations are not Fortune 500s, by definition.
Tell us how the product is used in organizations closer to our size. Instead of five slides about massive multinationals, include the best two that showcase the product and its benefits. Then, use those other three slides to talk about the wider market. People expect that large enterprises like the Fortune 500 pay more in raw dollars and get more support in raw hours. They want to understand how that relates to an organization their size. Because if you don’t work at an F500, information about F500s has limited usefulness.
I recently had a presentation with a vendor; I love the technology, have been following them for years and use their solutions in a small business (not the reason for the presentation, but an expression of my belief that they offer a good solution). And their presentation was all about how well they serve large organizations. Thing is, they do a great job of serving small organizations, too, but unless you were an analyst like me, you would not have known that from the presentation. I get a lot of briefings, so while this one spurred me to write this blog, they are not the only ones, by far.
So do us a favor: Give us presentations that are relevant to the entire market, not the subset someone told you is “most important.” It is, indeed, impressive if the solution can scale to multinationals and it is relevant. Just don’t obsess about it; we need to know if it supports our architecture, tooling, etc.
We’re here rocking it every day, you should bring the broadest focus you have to let us know if you can be part of the solution moving forward. If you don’t, well, we might just think our business isn’t all that important to you. And we’re pretty sure most vendors don’t want that.