When a competitor gives you an opening, hammer them

Over the weekend, a fellow software developer who makes software for auto repair shops pointed out this quote from his competitor:

<vendor> would like to mention a couple of things about the desktop operating systems. Microsoft is having a lot of issues with the Vista operating system. When putting together a new computer, <vendor> recommends that you buy it with XP Professional and when the bugs have been worked out, then upgrade to Vista. If you do your research on the web you can find out the issues that are causing problems.

My comment to him: You oughta be hammering them.

Rhetorical questions to ask your prospects after pointing out this quote from your competitor:

  • Why do I need you to tell me to waste my valuable time researching problems in Microsoft’s new operating system? I thought YOU were supposed to be the expert, as the leading vendor in this niche. If you’re asking mechanics to do their own operating system research, why don’t we just spent that time researching other shop software instead?
  • As a mechanic, you have to keep up with multiple automakers, model year changes, changes within model years, etc. Do I want a vendor who can’t even keep up with Microsoft releasing an operating system every 3 or 4 years?
  • What other message does that send you about their company, their management, their technical team and their software?
  • What reaction would you get if you decided that you werent going to work on new vehicles “until they worked the bugs out in them”? Is that the kind of response you want to get from a software vendor?

We saw the same sort of thing in the photography software business when Windows XP came out. Competitors were still stuck on Windows 2000. We were developing sofware on Windows XP, testing on Windows XP and demonstrating the software in our trade show booths on Windows XP…during the Windows XP Beta (ie: well before it was released).

We made it clear what we were using and asked prospects to ask to see the product in the other booth running on Windows XP to prove it ran without issues on XP. Of course, we did this knowing full well that they couldn’t produce that result.

For most software vendors, this should be common sense. For the rest, you can consider them low-hanging fruit as you pick them off.