Seth Godin had a great post today about what really separates great solutions from good solutions. He calls it the last 10%. The basic takeaway is the first 90% of designing a web page, baking a cake, building a software solution is the easy part. It's the last 10% that is really hard that separates the good from the great.
The problem in our business, is that unless you've got an educated buyer, they never really understand what a great solution should be and why they might need it.
For example, Billtrust sells an email billing solution. The uneducated buyer says, "I don't need your email billing solution, my Oracle system sends out invoices via email for free."
The first 90% of building an email billing system is actually pretty easy, and most ERP systems and most of our competitors do this.
- An email bill should look identical to a printed bill, preferably in PDF format
- If multiple bills are sent in the same day, don't send multiple emails, send one email with one PDF file because customers still like to print them.
You'd be surprised how many systems can't do the above. Our first version of email billing did just this and it was modest success. And then we learned that it wasn't nearly enough to satisfy the market. So we added the last 10%.
- The body of the email should contain a customizable summary of the invoices included in the attachment.
- There should be an option for customers to get individual PDFs because they like to import them directly into their archive system.
- Managing the deliverability is essential through staying on white lists and off of black lists.
- Making sure the email is branded as a customer communication and not a Billtrust communication.
- Including a separate file along with the PDF so that the customer can import data directly into their accounting package.
- Providing marketing opportunities in the body of the email.
This stuff may not sound important, but when you've got real clients counting on your solution, this stuff will kill you.
Billtrust likes to think we go the extra 10% to deliver a great solution to the market. Our growth numbers certainly back this up. But it still drives me crazy when we have a buyer who issues an RFP that simply says "How much for XXX?" They're not willing to become educated to even learn the right questions to ask!