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Your prospects’ dilemma – How do they make a case when there’s no viable competitor?

I was confronted by an interesting situation this past week. We are in a buying cycle with a prospect. He is building the business case to take us to the capex approval committee, and one question stumping him is: “Who is a valid commercial alternative to Entytle?” This is a mandatory sourcing question, and he simply cannot identify a clear alternative to us!

That got me thinking about all the companies that have the same requirement from their purchasing teams to identify different alternatives as part of their process. I posed this question to my friend Dave Kellogg, and he gave me 2 invaluable pieces of advice:
1) don’t breathe your own vapors (about being unique in the market) and
2) encourage our prospects to think about “rings of substitution”. 

To use his exact words, “Butter vs. butter, butter vs. margarine, butter vs. olive oil. Maybe your commercial alternative isn’t direct (butter/butter) but indirect (butter/olive oil)”

In Entytle’s case, all current alternatives are indirect: CRM customization, living with inadequate BI dashboards, or worse, a completely custom-built solution. All these have very high costs, time to value, and therefore low ROI. In fact, most of our current customers have dealt with this reality, and have had to eventually recognize that the purpose-built solution we offer is the only one available for OEMs. 

My response to our prospect was simple: this is exactly why we created Entytle. Sales have CRM, Marketing has Martech stacks, Manufacturing has MRP/PLM, and Field Service has FSM…but Installed Base sellers have nothing! They have to make do with inappropriate solutions, DIY, or simply do nothing. In a world where 70+ percent of new equipment sales come from existing customers aka installed base, 100% of Aftermarket and Services revenue is from the installed base, how can Aftermarket leaders accept this sorry state of affairs?

To me, this is the crux of a category creation process. There is no “line item” for Installed Base Intelligence. There are no “Magic Quadrants” for this category. It doesn’t exist in G2 and other sites. It takes early adopters, visionaries, and true believers to take the leap and make the buying decision. 

Welcome to the “Installed Base Intelligence Platform” software category! 

For other companies who are building something that didn’t exist before, look at how your prospect does their work today? What are you replacing – complacency, inefficiency, bad tools for the job, others? Use those as a proxy competitor for your product/solution because most likely that is what you will be up against when building a case for your solution. Most importantly, that’s how you guide your prospects when you want to help them build a case for your own solution.

Also, the category name matters. There’s a reason why we called our category ‘Installed Base Intelligence Platform’ – it comprises terms our audience understands and is almost certain to make sense of immediately. Our platform provides actionable Intelligence for our customer’s Installed Base i.e. Customer base. 

So, my short piece of advice to anyone in the new category creation space is as follows – 

  1. Experiment with the category name so your audience just falls in love with it at first sight
  2. Create proxy competitors because those are the ones you will run into every single time

And, one more thing – create content to define both 1 & 2 above.

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