“Trusted partner” – so what?

Alice Hollis

Best-of-breed technology” – so what?

First-class service” – so what?

At college the first business model I was introduced to was ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’. You’ve probably come across it at some point too. Basically, it’s a pyramid that describes the different things that motivate us. Starting at the bottom we have ‘physiological needs’, like food, shelter and clothing. Moving up to ‘safety needs’, on to ‘love and belonging’, ‘self-esteem’ and eventually ‘self-actualisation’, where we desire to be the best version of ourselves.

The trouble is, when it comes to business many companies pitch capabilities they believe sit at right at the top of the pyramid, when in reality they are basic expectations.

Think about it…

Would you really want to work with someone you didn’t trust, who offered second rate technology with a rubbish service?

These things are not differentiators, they are necessities – which means the only time they become important or get noticed is when they’re not there.

How to pitch your benefits right

To demonstrate you possess these basic ‘hygiene’ factors, it’s best to show, not tell.

For example, telling your audience you’re a ‘trusted partner’ is meaningless. Having a case study, where your client explains how you worked alongside them during their digital transformation, while upskilling their team in the process, demonstrates you possess that ‘trusted partner’ quality.

But what about product/service features?

Yes, in the world of IT and tech, features are important and they should be shared. But to simply list them off doesn’t mean much. To make sure they resonate with the audience, you need to ask a simple question…

“So what?”

Let’s imagine you’re selling a managed service and one of the features is that a skilled engineer is available and ready to help 24/7/365.

“So what?”

If the network falls down on a Sunday afternoon, someone is automatically notified and can start fixing the issue.

“So what?”

The quicker the issue is resolved, the quicker the systems are back online.

“So what?”

For every hour the system is down, each client loses an estimated £10,000.

“So what?”

When that happens, your project sponsor has to tell their boss and ends up feeling like a complete idiot for trusting a partner that clearly hasn’t got a handle on basic IT support.

Hopefully you get the idea – keep asking “So what?” and eventually you start getting to the rich, juicy benefits, which translate into customer value. Your managed service isn’t about being available 24/7/365, it’s about ensuring your client never looks stupid in front of their boss.

Take a lesson from your child

Do you remember when your son or daughter went through the ‘why?’ phase?

You’re tearing your hair out because it’s a constant, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?”

They’re never prepared to accept your first answer. They keep drilling you until they’ve asked the question 20 times. Children question everything because they’re trying to understand the world and make sense of how things work.

You should do the same in your business. Next time someone comes to you saying:

“Users now have the capability to drag and drop modules within the platform.”

Say to them, “So what?”

If they’ve really thought it through, they should be able to complete this simple sentence:

It [FEATURE], so you can [BENEFIT], which means [VALUE].

Alice Hollis

B2B tech marketer turned content writer and ghostwriter, with a specialism in thought leadership content.