“We Chose The Vendor With The Most Complete Solution”


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I just read a report, “The Mood Of The B2B Buyer.”  The results weren’t surprising, reinforcing most of the other research I see.

There was one piece that provoked me to reflect.  It was the response to the question, “In what circumstance might you opt for a more expensive solution to address a specific business need or pain point?”  53% of the respondents said, “If the vendor had a more complete solution.”

It’s not at all surprising, but I can imagine thousands of marketers, sales enablement, and sales professionals salivating at that statement.  I can just see how the majority will respond, “Let’s inundate them with features, functions, feeds, and speeds….”

I can see websites with the feature comparison charts–you know the ones that I’m talking about.  Usually, it’s a long laundry list of features the vendor thinks are important (the stuff that’s in their products) with columns comparing “our solution,” to the alternatives.  These are always constructed in a manner that our solution has twice as many boxes checked as the alternatives/competition.

Often, I go to the websites of those competitors, they have a similar checklist—some of the same features, but a lot different.  And their solution always has twice as many boxes checked as the competitors.

Sales people love these comparisons.  They take them to the customers claiming, “Our solution is much more complete than the alternatives.  After all, we check off twice as many boxes….”

Inevitably, there are the demos, which most likely end up being “death by feature overwhelm” experiences for the customers.

Somehow, all of us “pushing” a particular product interpret completeness of solution as the product with the most features, functions, bells, whistles, feeds, and speeds wins.

And they inevitably miss the point, pissing customers off, causing them to turn off or go somewhere else.

The issue is, completeness of solution has nothing to do with the number of features, functions, etc., that we can overwhelm the customer with.  It only has to do with the customer’s problem and what they are trying to achieve.

Customers evaluate the completeness of a solution by how well it helps them solve their problem.  They assess value based on the ability to solve the problem, along with the risk, ease of implementation, and a number of other things.

Too often, sales and marketing are oblivious to this.  Instead of focusing on understanding the customer problem and the “completeness” of the solution in solving the problem, they inundate the customer with more–often arguing, because we offer more, we create greater value and we can charge more.

Too often, sales and marketing, forgets that “more” is not helping solve the problem, in fact it might be hindering the customer in solving their problem.  It may make the solution more confusing, more difficult to implement/use, create more risk or exposure.

I’ve told the story before, but in a prior role, I was evaluating a software solution for my sales team.  The sales people for the vendors we were considering kept inundating my team and me with their laundry lists of features and functions, using the comprehensiveness as an indicator of completeness of solution.  After many pitches/demos where sales people went through endless functions that were meaningless to me, I finally said, in frustration, “We don’t need, we don’t want all that ‘extra stuff!’  It’s overhead and adds to the complexity and cost of implementing your solution.  Please remove it, or in the very least don’t charge us for them, we don’t need those functions, so we won’t pay for them…..”

You can imagine how the sales people reacted.  Interestingly, rather than focus on our organization’s needs and demonstrating the completeness of their solution in the context of what we needed–ignoring all the other capabilities we didn’t care about; they started coming back with deep discounts—which I gladly took advantage of.

What they missed was, I wasn’t concerned about their pricing, I was concerned about the completeness of the solution in addressing the needs of our organization.  I would have payed full price (OK, I would have negotiated some discount), but I wanted to understand that their solution would more completely address what we were trying to achieve than the alternatives.

Completeness of solution is critical to the customer!  The survey shows 53% of respondents are willing to pay more for completeness of solution.

But we get this wrong, it’s all about what completeness of solution means to the customer, not how many features, functions, bells, whistles, feeds and speeds we can inundate the customer with.  As is usually the case, sometimes, less is more.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Hi Dave, you are right in saying that sales people too often put functions and features in front of solving the customer’s problem. What I try in my practice (I am sometimes involved in selling software subscriptions) is looking at the process and even improve the process that the prospect has (giving suggestions, demoing them, too, where possible). Call it a consultative sales approach as I am not everyone’s trusted advisor.


    What I often do see when e.g. looking at an RFP ist … functions and features instead of a process.

    My learning out of this is that buyers very well look at functions and features. My hypothesis is that they are well aware that their process is going to change and that this requires the flexibility of having f&f. Another possibility is that they are not sure themselves what they need and are actually looking for a consultant.

    So, yes, ideally the customer is looking for a solution to their challenge. And what they are also looking for is that the solution is covering challenges that may or will come up in future.

    So, at the end of the day we likely need a good combination of coverage of the current challenge and someone who can convince them about future proofing their decision.

    And … customers are looking at f&f, too. This is enticing for sales people, isn’t it?

  2. Thomas, I completely agree with your experience, I’ve had the same. Customers are often looking at functions/features. Our conversations need to focus on identifying those that are most important to them and why. Then we must focus our conversation on how those specific functions and features and our implementation of those help the customer achieve their goals.

    Too often, I see sales people in the race for who has the most functions and features. Rather than focusing on those that are important to the customer, they spend too much time on all the others that are meaningless to the customer.

    In some cases, I’ve seen that customers are unaware of certain functions and features, and become concerned about them (for a whole variety of reasons). introducing objections and resistance where it might never have become an issue of we focused on those important to the customer.

  3. our thinking is aligned, Dave. An important part of our job is to make sure that what we demo and (want to) sell the customer matches their functional scope while doing a good discovery of their process, therefore matching their expectations. The other thing is that this way we are getting into a position to educate them about how they could do things even better by introducing slight changes if they wished so


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