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Comparison tables from vendors - fostering doubt and distrust

08 Feb 2017

I spend a lot of time talking about the impact of trust on technology buying. And, today, I’ll share one of my biggest pet peeves and an area that I believe is a big problem for vendors.

The comparison table.

We’ve all seen them. A table that shows one company’s product or services and a bunch of alternatives. It may list specific features or general capabilities but in the end they all seem to end up looking something like the picture below.

Yep, they all say “we are perfect and everyone else stinks.” Who believes that? I’m pretty sure the answer is no one.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a table where no one was perfect. Where, the provider, actually acknowledges areas of the product that are not their focus? How do you think a customer would react to that? My guess is fairly positively.

None of these tables (even if you show shortcomings) will (or probably should) show every imaginable feature or capability. But if you highlight things that others do that you don’t focus on, you are not only being more open, you could be effectively qualifying the opportunity. If a buyer wants (and truly needs) something you don’t do (and don’t plan to do), then they won’t be a great customer. Better to qualify them out.

By highlighting what you do (and don’t do), you are creating a more believable differentiation story. Make sure you choose features or capabilities that would logically be of similar level of importance and coverage as the other things that you list. Highlight ones you don’t do that you know would be a bad fit for you.

I’d love to see the day where the “We are Perfect” comparison table disappears forever. I’m not holding my breath, but I’d love to see some providers give the more trustable approach a try. If you do it, let me know how it works.

Article by Hank Barnes, Gartner analyst

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