If buyers can’t distinguish your product from your competition, you look like just one more choice among many viable options. You need to articulate your value clearly and effectively. If you don’t, your prospects won’t see the difference, they won’t value your capabilities, and you’ll end up in side-by-side “bake-offs,” competing on price.
How do you make your product stand out?
B2B companies have tried several methods with mixed results. Most organizations follow the popular adage to “sell benefits, not features”—believing that the shorter and crisper your descriptions, the better. Others dress up their capabilities in superlatives, trying to make their solutions appear better and brighter than others.
Interestingly, a new research study from DecisionLabs and Corporate Visions shows how these common practices are missing the mark.
Finding the Best Approach to Product Positioning
The premise of the study was simple: What if you took the same feature set from the same company and told the story in a different way? Can one version of the story consistently and materially defeat a different version of the story—even when both stories are based on the exact same capabilities?
Turns out, it can. DecisionLabs studied how 400 B2B buyers responded to four different message types:
• Features: This message describes a list of capabilities that help resolve the identified customer challenge. There are no benefit statements to show what value the buyer will receive. It represents a messaging approach that seems to imply value through the capability itself.
• Benefits: This message describes the benefits of each capability. These benefit statements are meant to help the buyer understand what the feature will do for them and what that means in terms of business impact. This approach follows the “sell benefits, not features” advice that many companies follow today.
• Superlatives: This message adds common cliché adjectives to describe features, including typical superlatives such as: “all-in-one,” “one-stop-shop,” “streamlined,” comprehensive,” etc. This is a common approach that companies use when trying to express the difference between otherwise similar capabilities.
• Telling Details: This message adds specific information and more detailed, emotional language to describe the business problem, the capabilities to solve that problem, and the value of those capabilities. This approach enhances the story with descriptive words, phrases, or images that help the buyer better “experience” what you’re describing.
The results reveal a clear and obvious winner: The Telling Details condition beat the other three messages individually and in the aggregate across every variable.
In particular, when participants were asked which pitch they preferred, 85 percent more chose Telling Details. And participants said the Telling Details message was 96 percent more credible, 95 percent more convincing, and almost twice as many buyers said they would purchase from the vendor with the Telling Details pitch vs. other messages.
So, what made the Telling Details message so powerful?
The Power of Telling Details
If your message doesn’t include rich, detailed, and value-based language about your capabilities, it won’t be nearly as effective.
The Telling Details message is:
• Buyer-focused – It uses language like “you can” and “that means” to frame each capability in terms of how each capability applies to the buyer.
• Specific – It includes more specific information, including quantitative values to describe each capability.
• Detailed – It elaborates on each capability with additional details that enhance and complement the value.
Using this level of detail and specificity adds depth to your message, making it more concrete and believable. That, in turn, builds your buyer’s confidence that your solution offers the most value.
The Telling Details message was twice as long as other messages, but it’s not just adding more words for the sake of it—those additional details bring clarity and focus to an otherwise fuzzy capability description.
Even when your message is based on the exact same capability set, how you tell the story dramatically changes your odds of winning.
When positioning your product, don’t just talk about features or benefits. Don’t use empty language to try and spice up your pitch. Instead, use specific, telling details and descriptive language to make your message more concrete, increase your impact, and make your product stand out.
For more details about this study, click here.