Two guys walk into a Cheesecake Factory. They sit down and are presented with what looks to be an instruction manual for an Ikea entertainment unit. Pages and pages of choices (and advertisements) from appetizers, pastas, samplers, main courses, steaks, burgers, veggies, fish, wine list, beer list, cocktail list and of course, 2 pages of cheesecake variations. How do these friends narrow down to what they want? They want to share an appetizer, so they pick through the 30+ choices. George likes lettuce wraps, but Peter doesn’t care for the water chestnuts. Peter recommends the buffalo wings, but George doesn’t do spicy food. Time to compromise. The waiter arrives, they order the appetizer, the sampler. This fits both their taste as it has a little bit of everything they enjoy.
The evening resumes, and they continue to look through the bible of offerings and can’t decide on their main courses. Club sandwich or big salad? Steak or Halibut? Ughhh… Offering customers literally hundreds of choices to choose from does not mean they will be satisfied with the options. They will spend more time figuring out what works, and satisfies a craving, where as another choice may satisfy another craving. Surely, ordering both won’t be an option.
What does all this have to do with B2B software companies? What happens when George and Peter go to an In-N-Out Burger? They are presented with a much simpler menu. Hamburger or Cheeseburger? (OK, yes, I know there is a Double Double, but that’s just a Cheeseburger with 2 patties). The answer to ordering French Fries is just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There are no sizes. Order a drink. Small, Medium, Large or a Shake. It’s as simple as that.
So, put yourself in the customer’s position. You are looking for a new enterprise software solution to replace your existing 25 year old DOS based setup. You have identified your requirements and begin your search for a vendor. Several options come up and you find one company that might be a good fit. When looking at their product offerings, you find several different versions. Small Business, Mid Market, Enterprise, Retail, Mega, Mid Upper Market, Super Enterprise, Medium Business, Express, Lite, Purple, Green, Yellow, Black, Gold…. the list goes for days. This shouldn’t be that hard, right? You have your requirements, and you start to compare it with the suite of products this company has. Nothing seems to fit. If it has the requirements, it’s too expensive. If it’s the right price, it doesn’t meet the requirements. Is your company a Mid Market? Just because you have 500 employees, doesn’t meet the Mid Market offering will fit the bill. Do you now look at Enterprise? Green? Mid-Upper?
Giving the customers fewer options would simplify this process for them. They are less confused and can select an offering that would just meet their needs at a reasonable price. The customers may not immediately know exactly what they are looking for, but offering them more options is not the solution. When they grow and there are more features required, they can upgrade to the next level. Seat level restrictions need not apply. Surely, there will be some cases when ordering a simple Cheeseburger may not fit your needs just right. That’s when you ask about the secret menu and order it Animal Style. But if no product line is a perfect fit, then maybe they need to look elsewhere.
Bottom line, a B2B Software won’t be able to meet all of a customer’s needs. The customer will eventually find the right product with the right fit. The software vendor won’t need to worry about granular customizations to close the deal, and accept the loss. These aren’t the droids your looking for. Move along. Focus on perfecting the product. You can’t order bacon and avocados at In-N-Out, there’s a reason for that.