According to the Urban Dictionary, a ‘tool’ is someone who lacks the mental capacity to know he or she is being used. While it’s an amusing slang term, it wasn’t what I had in mind when I decided to write this blog post. Instead, I’m referring to the good ol’ fashion tool which you use to fix or construct something. Take any example such as a hammer, saw, drill, etc. What are the first things that comes to mind when thinking about these types of tools? For me, it’s things like:
- Cheap to purchase
- Used by construction workers and weekend warriors
- Requires skills and training
- Involves multiple other tools to produce something
In summary, a tool is a powerful and often low-cost device but it requires skills and effort to operate. Next, let’s think about if you were hiring a contractor to build a house and imagine you have two options. The first contractor shows up with a bag of tools and says they can custom-build everything from scratch on a time and materials basis. The second contractor shows you a portfolio of their completed work, offers references and gives you a complete price for the full project.
Which contractor option would you go with and why? Most people tend to opt for the second option because they can see what they are getting and feel much more confident in the project being completed on-time and within budget. Furthermore, the perceived difference between option #1 vs option #2 are very different – the first option implies low cost with high risk whereas the second option implies higher cost with lower risk.
If we apply this analogy to the software market, it’s surprising to see many vendors still referring to their products as tools. My industry peers in software sales and marketing roles often say things like “it’s a really good tool since it simplifies manual tasks” or “you can build custom apps with our tool”. While these are decent attributes of software, I’d argue they greatly diminish the value the product or platform is really delivering.
Instead, vendors should strive to position how their offering solves business challenges through examples, best practices and proven experience. In other words, position the solution instead of the tool. The end result should be higher sale price, increased win rates and better customer satisfaction. This is obviously not a new concept and the solution selling methodology has been around for years with many authors and consulting companies offering best practices. Yet it’s amazing to see how many software companies still defer to product features and functions when describing what they do and what makes them unique.
If you are interested in seeing some of the solutions offered by Qlik in each major industry and line of business function, check out the Qlik solutions website here.
Hopefully this is a good reminder for the software industry and if you take anything away from this blog post, remember this: DON’T BE A TOOL!