“Our powerful software is flexible, intuitive, easy-to-use and integrates seamlessly with your other tools. It is robust and scalable, and your organization can enjoy the benefits of our best-of-breed world-class offering.”

How many times have you read this type of jargon in software marketing material? Does it provide you with any real information—or is it simply a string of meaningless buzzwords?

When you or your team uses these words and phrases in a presentation or software demonstration, you risk losing credibility. Presentations and demos, in particular, need to focus on facts—not supposition—to achieve technical proof or generate a real vision in the customers' minds.

Here's the list of words that can get you and your team into trouble. We it call the Content-Free Buzzword-Compliant Vocabulary List:

1. Robust
2. Powerful
3. Flexible
4. Integrated
5. Seamless
6. Extensible
7. Scalable
8. Interoperable
9. Easy-to-use
10. Intuitive
11. User-friendly
12. Comprehensive
13. Best-of-breed
14. World-class

How can you communicate the ideas behind these buzzwords and stay in the land of facts? Look for concrete, fact-based examples that illustrate the ideas.

For example, instead of saying, “Our software is robust,” you might say: “This software is deployed worldwide and is in day-by-day production use by over 10,000 users.”

Or, alternatively, “Our users enjoy 99.98% uptime on a 24/7/365 basis.” The specifics and numbers that you provide make your statements and claims more credible.

Similarly, you can avoid the trite and hackneyed “user-friendly,” “easy-to-use” and “intuitive” claims by being focused and sticking to the facts. You can cite the specific number of mouse clicks necessary to complete a task, for example. Or, perhaps you can cite that users of your out-of-the-box software do not find the need to purchase training.

Just the facts, Ma'am… no hyperbole!

A good test that you can apply to your own material is to ask the question, “In whose opinion?”

If your claim is a quote from a customer, then that's terrific—and you should identify the quote accordingly. However, if the answer is that it came from your marketing department (or your lips!), then you should find a way to rephrase it. For example, if you find a phrase such as “our powerful software” in your literature or presentation materials, then you should ask, “In whose opinion is it powerful?”

You can turn such useless fluff to real stuff by providing a working example: “Most of our customers state that our software reduces their typical workflow cycle time from several days to less than an hour.”

CRM (customer relationship management) software is a key topic of discussion in many organizations today. Nearly every CRM software vendor says its tools are “powerful.” In whose opinion? Are they able to lift tons of steel or send satellites into orbit? What makes their software powerful?

Replacing terms on the Content-Free Buzzword-Compliant Vocabulary List with substantive claims provides you the opportunity to differentiate from most competitors. Compare “our powerful software is world-class” with “our software enables 10% increases in close rates and 14% reduction in sales cycles; customers also report substantial increases in the quality of leads generated and pursued.”

Two of the worst offenders on the list are “seamless” and “integrated.” Everything, it seems, is “seamlessly integrated” with everything else. Why, then, is there so much work for companies that provide integration capabilities!

Once again, providing real-life, fact-based examples enables you and your team to rise above the competition and earn a positive reputation for being fact-based: “Our Sales Force Automation solution automatically enters all tasks, appointments, and telephone calls onto your Outlook calendar, without requiring a single mouse-click. Set it up once from the Preferences Menu, and our software keeps all of your calendar operations synced and up-to-date with Outlook.” Much better!

“Scalable” is easy to improve upon.

If you are referring to the number of users, try something lik this: “Implementations of our software range from single users in sole proprietorships to over 2,500 users in Fortune 500 companies.”

If you are referring to concurrency, consider something like this: “Currently, our ASP installation supports companies with a handful of daily transactions as well as organizations that are processing well beyond 10,000 transactions every hour.”

When a vendor says its software is “flexible,” is it talking about software capabilities or its willingness to be flexible with licensing policy or pricing?

Whenever possible, use specific, focused examples that are relevant to the specific customer. Using verifiable, real-life statements will encourage your customers to respond with a more positive, open attitude—which will help you to achieve your objectives.

Stick with the facts, avoid meaningless buzzwords and enjoy increased success with your presentations and demonstrations!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Cohan runs The Second Derivative out of Belmont, California. For more information, visit www.SecondDerivative.com.