#1: Promising unfinished features
Software companies are in constant development. Their existing products get upgraded and new ones are added to the mix. Many are therefore tempted to sell features that are not fully developed yet. This can happen during the sales process or early in the implementation process, and it introduces several issues.
First of all, unfinished features make it harder to plan the implementation because timelines for the launch of new features are often only estimates and cannot be relied on 100%. Delays in development are normal because it is impossible to accounting for everything that might go wrong. Unfinished features drastically increase the chances for delays, and introduce a set of risk that are outside of your control.
Secondly, overpromising might seriously hurt your reputation with your current and future clients. If you have some exciting features in the making it might be tempting to share it with your clients, but if the development of the new features gets delayed you will just end up making futile excuses. Even if the client experiencing the delays does not cancel, they might share their experience with others and you might lose out on some potential new clients.
How to avoid it: Your implementation consultants have the most important job to do here. They need to resist the pressure of implementing unfinished features in the project and keep the timeline estimate for the project as accurate as possible. However, if it is inevitable that unfinished features are going to be promised to the clients, give a reasonable estimate of the timeline for new features. If the finish line is too far into the future, be honest with them about it. They might come back to you once your product fits their needs better.
#2: Focusing on features instead of benefits
Many companies put money and effort into showcasing the features of their products online, but unfortunately many get it wrong. Instead of focusing on how the features can help the client, the companies simply lists them. The main difference between the two terms is that a feature is something your product has, while a benefit is the outcome the user of your product will achieve.
As informative as a list of features can be, it can also be off-putting to the customer. When they land on your website or leaf through your marketing brochures they want to know exactly how your product can help them. The same applies to sales and pitch meetings – many companies simply don’t do a good enough job explaining how they can solve clients’ problems. If the clients can’t understand it clearly, they will be moving along to the next vendor.
How to avoid it: Put yourself in the shoes of the customer. What would they like to achieve by implementing your software? The more specific you get, the better you will be able to describe potential benefits of your product.
Focusing on features rather than benefits might not always cost you a client, but it might bring on board clients that don’t fully understand your product and therefore might not be the best fit for your company, which brings us to the next point.
#3: Selling to the wrong customer
In today’s enterprise software market it’s important to deliver a product that exceeds expectations. Many companies fail to do that because they are selling their products to the wrong customers. Some argue that finding a specific market segment where your product is the perfect fit is the safest route to success. While many companies tailor their products to different niches, many don’t alter their sales processes. In the end, they end up selling to customers that experience only a fraction of value their products have to offer. This results in staggering revenue, customer service issues, and bootless feedback from clients that has no value for your company.
Having the wrong clients can also have a negative impact on the organization culture because your team will have to deal with clients that don’t fully appreciate the product. In addition, those clients might share their bad experience with others, making it more difficult for the sales team to win new clients.
How to avoid it: There is no quick fix to this problem. Your most important task is to understand how your customers use your product. Also, ask yourself questions that will describe your ideal customer. That will help you define the criteria for recognizing the right customer in the future.
Should you have any questions about any of these issues, please feel free to give our office a call at 312-263-0570.