Differentiators vs Features - Stop Bad Pitches

By: John Honovich, Published on Nov 06, 2015

Most sales pitches are bad.

Most confuse differentiators and features.

We receive many pitches and the most fundamental problem we see, over and over again, is that companies confuse differentiators with features, even when we explicitly request them to tell us their differentiators.

In this note, we explain the key differences, provide examples for video surveillance products and offer guidance on how to radically improve one's pitches.

Key Difference

A feature is what your product can do. A differentiator is what your product can do that few or none of your strongest competitors can.

Listing all your features, which is the most common technique we see used, makes a pitcher seem just like every other product and does nothing to stand out. Buyers have too many options and can too easily find something that has the same basic list of features as the one being pitched to them.

The key is to focus / lead with those features that are uncommon and that help show the value you provide that others cannot.

Strongest Competitors

One common mistake is to focus on features that average or lagging competitors lack. This might make a sales / marketer feel good but most prospects know well or will be called on by the top competitors. Pitchers need to make sure their claimed differentiators are not offered by their strongest competitors.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

The strongest competitors are usually easy to determine as these are the companies that a company faces the most (in 2015, in North America, for cameras, Axis and Hikvision are clearly two, for VMSes, Milestone and Exacq (plus Genetec for anyone targeting larger systems) are common and for 'solution sales' Avigilon).

Real Differentiators

Another common mistake is to claim a differentiator that is simply factually untrue. We regularly see pitchers say we do X but Axis / Milestone / whomever does not, when they simply did not realize that those companies did the same. Pitchers lose credibility doing this. A lot of this is simply due to ignorance but if you are a professional, it is your job to know these things. Surprisingly, we see even some product managers lack basic knowledge of their competitors.

We talked to a VMS manufacturer recently who claimed connecting to cameras via RTSP was a differentiator, which obviously is not as RTSP is broadly supported by VMSes. Even a 5 second Google search of 'RTSP Exacq' or 'RTSP Genetec', etc. easily shows that.

Meaningful Differentiators

One of the toughest challenges in picking differentiators is choosing ones that are meaningful. Many times pitchers pick minuscule differences, often UI variances or extremely uncommon features. While it is appropriate to include those, too often pitchers focus too hard on them and expect that to alone justify picking their product.

If you lay out cameras slightly different than your competitors or use a vertical slider instead of a horizontal one, unless you have qualified that the person who are talking to has these as hot button issues, chances are it will make no difference in selecting you vs your rival.

Changing Differentiators

Pitchers need to stay up on the market. What was a differentiator 2 years ago may not be a differentiator now. For example, in 2013, Axis could brag about Lightfinder and super low light performance. Now, they do it at their own risk of being laughed at. The market has simply caught up and essentially all their major competitors have equivalent or better, including their low cost Chinese rivals.

On the other hand, right now Axis has a big differentiator with Zipstream. Others are following and probably in 2 years this will be commonplace but right not they have a clear advantage on bandwidth / storage efficiency on most everyone.

Multi-imagers are in the midst of a transformation from Arecont 'unique' offering to a limited number of major suppliers. This will shift the battle for differentiation from simply having multi-imager to what types of multi-imager you have (resolution, varifocal, low light, WDR, frame rate, etc.)

Don't Have Any?

Once companies really focus on picking and promoting true differentiators, they will often find that they have very few real, meaningful differentiators. At that point, sales people need to differentiate on their own abilities, i.e., how charismatic they are, or how helpful they are, etc. However, companies need to look hard at themselves and figure out ways to develop actual differentiators (this is especially critical right now on the camera market as Hikvision et al., are driving prices down for generally solid (read: competitive) products).

Suckers and Features

There is some hope for feature based selling. With the Internet making it so easy to see what else is out there, it is harder and harder to sell on generic features but there are always some naive people who will take your feature list, not bother to compare it, and pay whatever you ask. But it is not a large segment and is one clearly on decline so be careful and try to focus more on actual differentiators.

Beware People Being Nice

The other issue is that many people do not want to tell people to their face that their differentiators are not real or that they do not care. This might make the pitcher feel good ("Hey he smiled when I said that") but you still risk the person not buying because you are not convincing them.

What is your Differentiators?

In the comments, I am happy to discuss / debate what your product differentiators are. Throw them out and let's see what I and your IPVM member peers think.

 

Comments (44) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Faked Convergint Fever Camera 'Expert' Marketing on Jun 16, 2020
Convergint touts they are "THERMAL CAMERA SOLUTION EXPERTS" while faking...
Don't Be Fooled By Hot Water Bottle Fever Camera Demos on Aug 24, 2020
Fever camera salesmen like to fool buyers (and themselves) with hot water...
Dahua, Hikvision, ZKTeco Face Mask Detection Shootout on Jun 19, 2020
Temperature tablets with face mask detection are one of the hottest trends in...
Facial Recognition 101 on Mar 18, 2020
Facial recognition interest, use and fear is increasing. This guide aims to...
Verkada Falsely Claims "First Native Cloud-based Access Control and Video Security Solution" on Jun 18, 2020
Verkada's false claims continue, this time to be the first native cloud-based...
Faked Coronavirus Fever Detection, Athena Used Hikvision; Responds - Selling NDAA Compliant Cameras, Pledging 50% Of Profits to Victims on Mar 24, 2020
US company, Athena Security, faked its coronavirus fever detection marketing,...
Face Masks Increase Face Recognition Errors Says NIST on Aug 04, 2020
COVID-19 has led to widespread facemask use, which as IPVM testing has shown...
Injes Tiny Temperature Terminal Tested on Jul 17, 2020
While temperature terminals have trended bigger, the Injes DFace801 is...
FLIR Markets Windows Temperature Screening, Violates IEC And Causes Performance Problems on Jul 17, 2020
FLIR, one of the largest thermal screening manufacturers, is marketing...
Convergint Refuses To Fix Faked Fever Marketing, FTC Complaint Filed on Jun 19, 2020
Since Convergint has refused to fix their faked fever camera marketing, IPVM...
Bias In Facial Recognition Varies By Country, NIST Report Shows on Jul 15, 2020
While many argue that face recognition is inherently racist, results from one...
FLIR A Series Temperature Screening Cameras Tested on Jun 04, 2020
FLIR is one of the biggest names in thermal and one of the most conservative....
Directory of 206 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on Aug 04, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers...
ADT: 'Fever' Cameras Are Medical Devices on Jun 15, 2020
While many manufacturers are avoiding admitting their 'fever' cameras are...
False: Verkada: "If You Want To Remote View Your Cameras You Need To Punch Holes In Your Firewall" on Jul 31, 2020
Verkada falsely declared to “3,000+ customers”, “300 school districts”, and...

Recent Reports

OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations are at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Norway Council of Ethics Finds Hikvision Human Rights Abuses "Ongoing" on Sep 23, 2020
Hikvision's involvement in "serious human rights abuse" in Xinjiang is...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
SimpliSafe Business Security Launched Examined on Sep 22, 2020
SimpliSafe has launched "SimpliSafe Business Security" that the company...
FLIR CEO: Many New Fever Entrants "Making Claims That The Science Just Won't Support" on Sep 22, 2020
FLIR's CEO joins a growing number calling out risks with fever / screening...
China Bems Temperature Measurement Terminal Tested on Sep 22, 2020
Guangzhou Bems (brand Benshi) is the manufacturer behind temperature...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...