“Our powerful software is flexible, intuitive, easy-to-use and integrates seamlessly with your other tools. Robust and scalable, your organization can enjoy the benefits of our best-of-breed world-class offering.”
How many times have you heard these phrases in demos and sales presentations? Does it provide you with any real information – or is it simply a string of meaningless buzzwords?
When you or your team use these words and phrases in a presentation or software demonstration, you risk loss of credibility. Presentations and demos, in particular, need to focus on facts – not fantasy – in order to achieve technical proof or generate a real vision of a solution in your prospects’ minds.
Here’s a list of words that can get you and your team into trouble – we call it “The Content-Free Buzzword-Compliant Vocabulary List”:
Awesome list, don’t you think?
We had invited a vendor to present and demonstrate their offerings to help us improve and automate our operations processes. The demo meeting was scheduled for sixty minutes and the vendor had asked us to invite all of our stakeholders, which we dutifully did. Their salesperson began the meeting by sharing an agenda, then launched into a corporate and product overview presentation.
About eleven minutes into his saga, one of our team-members yelled, “BINGO!” The salesperson paled visibly and asked, “What do you mean by ‘bingo’?” In response, our team-member held up a Buzzword Bingo sheet with the diagonal fully completed. “I won…!” she exclaimed, enjoying the admiration of her colleagues…
Another True Story
Our very crusty CTO, Gunther, joined a meeting with another vendor who sold a product providing data for our vertical. Their salesperson described their offering’s coverage of the data as “the most comprehensive in the industry”.
Upon hearing these words, Gunther growled, “You’re an idiot…!”
“Excuse me?” asked the salesperson. “What do you mean?”
“It’s either ‘comprehensive’ or it isn’t. That’s like saying something is ‘the most biggest’. You’re an idiot!” he repeated – and the meeting was over.
How can you communicate the ideas behind these buzzwords and be believable? Look for concrete, fact-based examples that illustrate the ideas.
For example, instead of saying, “Our software is robust,” you might state “This software is deployed and in daily production use by over 1,000 customers around the world today.” Or, alternatively, try “Our customers enjoy a 99.98% uptime on a 24/7/365 basis.” Specific numbers make these statements more credible and support your claims.
Similarly, you can replace the trite and hackneyed “user-friendly”, “easy-to-use” and “intuitive” assertions by being focused and offering facts. Cite the specific number of mouse-clicks necessary to complete a task, for example. Or, perhaps you can reference that users of your software out-of-the-box have never found the need to purchase training – a truly product-led offering!
A good test you can apply to your own material is to ask the question, “In whose opinion?” If it is a quote from a customer, then that’s terrific and you should identify the quote accordingly. However, if the answer is that it came from your marketing department (or your lips!), then you should find a way to rephrase.
If you find suspect words in your literature or presentation materials such as “Our powerful software…,” then you should ask in whose opinion is it powerful? You can turn this from useless fluff to solid stuff by providing a working example: “Our customers report that our software reduces their typical workflow cycle time from several days to less than an hour.” Not just “faster, better, cheaper”, but tangibly so!
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is an ongoing topic of discussion in many organizations. Nearly every CRM software vendor says their tools are “powerful”. But in whose opinion? Are they able to lift tons of steel or send satellites into orbit? What makes their software “powerful”?
Replacing items on The Content-Free Buzzword-Compliant Vocabulary List with substantive claims provides you the opportunity to differentiate from competitors. Compare “Our powerful software is world-class…” versus “Our customers report that our software enables 10% increases in close rates, 15% reduction in sales cycles, and 10-20% increases in conversion of leads generated and pursued…” Just the facts – no hyperbole!
Providing real-life, fact-based examples enables you and your team to rise above the competition and earn a positive reputation for being fact-based. Compare “Our powerful software is flexible, intuitive, easy-to-use and integrates seamlessly with your other tools...” versus “Our Salesforce Automation solution automatically enters all activities, tasks, appointments, and communications into your CRM, without requiring a single mouse-click. Set it up once and our software keeps all of your customer interactions synced and up-to-date.” Much better!
“Scalable” is easy to improve upon. With regards to the ability to handle a broad number of users, how about, “Implementations of our software range from single users in sole-proprietorships to over 10,000 users in our Fortune-500 customers.”
When a vendor says their software is “flexible,” are they talking about the ability to embrace a range of workflows, or configuration, or something else? Is it a software yoga pose? Perhaps it is their willingness to be flexible with their licensing or discounting? Use specific examples that are focused and relevant to the prospect at hand whenever possible. Using verifiable, real-life statements will encourage your prospects to respond with a more positive, open attitude, which will help you in achieving your objectives (and they theirs, as well).
How about “world-class” – what does this really mean? And again, in whose opinion? If your customer is concerned about local language and currency support, then you can speak directly to these capabilities. “We provide support for the major European languages, Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America, as well as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, and provide automated conversion of the currencies used in each of the relevant geographies.”
Here’s a challenge: listen to some of your presentations and demos (and/or your team’s), and analyze. How did you do?
For more fun (or grief, depending on your perspective…), build your own Buzzword-Bingo cards and play along! You can find numerous versions online.
A Purpose-Built, Awesome Summary
Stick with the facts, avoid meaningless buzzwords, and enjoy increased success with your presentations and demonstrations!
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