If you’re in marketing and sales, your product will generally be perceived in one of two ways. It’s either a ‘nice to have’ or a ‘must have’. A must have is just that, something your buyer must have, and ideally by a certain time. These are the two conditions of the ‘opportunity’ holy grail known as BANT, where N is need and T is time.

I used to work in the email security business. Talk about a must have product. IT managers would call up on a daily basis either worried about the latest global virus to hit or because their network had just turned toxic from some ‘trojan’ and they didn’t want to be caught again. It wasn’t uncommon to hear them say things like ‘the CEO wants this sorted by the weekend or else, can you help us?’.

A nice to have is something you can live without. It means you don’t have a problem that needs fixing. You can sit on it for a while, do nothing – the secret, sneaky¬†competitor of the sales person – or even try and fix it yourself. The way to figure this out for your product or service is to put yourself in the customers’ shoes and say ‘OK what will happen if we don’t do this?’ If nothing major will happen, you have a nice to have.

If you have a product or service that is perceived to be nice to have, you have no opportunity, you have no sale, you have a problem. Then you need to start building a must have case, such as ROI, TCO (total cost of ownership) or the lost revenues or savings from delaying a decision.

If you have something that people feel they can’t do without, it is indeed a thing of beauty.