What Makes Us Different?
President & CEO
Recently a potential customer asked me to explain the
difference between our solution and a competitor’s. After
providing what I thought was a well thought out and compelling
explanation, I was confronted with the conundrum of the customer not understanding my
The fundamental question of what makes one company’s
products different from another seems like a simple task… but,
like a workman who gets very good at what he does, the significant
differences in capabilities and craftsmanship of a product can get lost
due to a client’s lack of appreciation for what goes into creating a
Just as a well-made shoe can last years, and a poorly made
one can fall apart in days, the initial price of a low cost product can
make it appealing to an uneducated customer. If a
consumer does not want to hear about the materials, craftsmanship, and
experience of the vendor and believes that one product is as good as
another, what is the best educational methodology to help a potential
customer purchase the best product for their needs?
This brought me to a grand epiphany, namely that we, as a
company, have gotten extraordinarily competent over the last 10 years
at creating security management and privileged identity management
products. But, somewhere along the way, we expected customers to
automatically understand the significance of all of the technology and
capabilities we have added to our products (and continue to add at an
This is not to say that none of our customers understand our
technology. In fact, we have reached this point of competence by being
pushed by customers to expand our technology and competencies. But as Mark
Nicolette from Gartner explained to me in a recent conversation:
being a real leader in the privileged identity
management space means that we are creating features, integrations and
new concepts that end up only being used by a small and demanding
subset of customers that are doing everything right. He explained that
many customers are barely using the technology that they have, much
less implementing best practices.
The implication of all of this is that the vast majority of
the technical community gains an advantage from all our investments,
but many will never understand or appreciate the subtleties necessary
to achieve scalability, integrations, and security from the products
they purchase. And, failing to understand the differences between
products (and our failing to explain the differences effectively),
means some companies end up buying a product from our competitors that
is unsuitable for their purposes.
So, my question this month is: How do you differentiate
your product from your competitor’s when the potential customer does
not understand the products and technology they are purchasing, and may
not want to spend the time to become an informed consumer?
I ask this because we always seem to hear this lament at
tradeshows and conferences, “We bought your competitor’s product
and it is terrible! We now know we need your product but we blew our
budget and can’t admit we screwed up.”
How can we help customers make informed purchasing decisions
on technology they don’t fully understand? How do we help customers
with their due diligence prior to purchasing (beyond writing a generic
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow me on Twitter: @liebsoft
or connect with me via LinkedIn.