An article in Entrepreneur made me think about some executives I had had conversations with early on, about our business intelligence software. When prospective end-user executives asked questions about new trial versions of our BI software that they downloaded from our website, I was excited to tell them about how fast and easy it was to use and deploy. And I made sure to tell them about the patented in-memory associative technology; the mobile accessibility; the pivot tables; the data loading; and the near real time analysis. Highly technical people and early adopters were interested in such features but the vast majority of end-users were not. I was so impressed with our R&D and Product Development's ability to add and improve powerful features that I deviated from addressing what's most important to a customer.
The following is common sense and might seem obvious, but it is easy to get sidetracked and forget that...
Finance and operations executives that happen to be seeking out BI solutions are measured on, and awarded bonuses based on how well they achieve certain metrics like:
- reducing aging receivables by region and customer over time
- reducing excess inventory and out of stock occurrences by product and location
- increasing sales and customer retention
if a BI tool can help them achieve these types of goals by providing better visibility into their data, then executives tend to be more interested in learning more about the product and its features. Also, a testimonial, that includes quantifiable positive results from other executives in similar functional groups, goes a long way to help build social proof. And lastly it's important that the executive's goal is worthy of close attention and support from other stakeholders in his/her company. After all, no product feature is powerful enough to overcome distractions such as catastrophic emergencies or a major corporate reorganization initiative.
Diving into all the intricacies and attributes of a product without clearly defining goals, benefits, stakeholders and obstacles can be a waste of precious time for vendors and customers.