This is sort of "odd but true"--in the course of a briefing, some vendors take forever to explain what they do.
There are three reasons for this:
- They Go for PR Speak: For example, early on in the briefing the vendor will put up a mission slide that says, "XYZ Corp. leverages Web 2.0 technologies across multiple channels so that companies can deliver the right information to the right people at the right time." In other words, a mission statement full of PR babble. OK, all the buzzwords are there, but what does it really mean? XYZ Corp. could be selling social networking; or an RSS server; or a search engine; or a tagging engine--the list goes on. So the vendor thinks it's clear--but the analyst is going, "Huh?"
- They're Familiar with What They Do and Figure You Are Too: This vendor assumes what they do is self-evident, and dives into the technology without setting any context: "Two weeks from now we're announcing version 4.2, which adds semantic analysis to the Enterprise Server."(OK, but since I'm unclear on what you do, I don't know whether that's good or bad.)
- They Get Around to It Half an Hour Into the Presentation: This vendor often starts with a history lesson ("XYZ Corp. was founded in 2007 in Sunnyvale"), moves on to management depth ("200 total years of experience in document management products), talks about customers (attempting to win the prize for the most logos that can be squeezed on a slide), announces the new product features, and eventually gets around to saying, "So that's why we we're so good at entity extraction." (Finally!)
The issue here is the vendor needs to quickly set context for the analyst. This may be the fourth vendor briefing of the day, and things are starting to blend together; the analyst may have been writing a deep dive report on a competing technology and needs a signal of, "And now for something completely different." Saying by slide three, "We're XYZ Corp. and we do this [in plain English]" suffices.
When I worked at Aberdeen Group, Bob Moran and I would keep track of how long it took a vendor to clearly say what they did. After the briefing, we'd close the door, sit down, and grouse, "Well, that took 10 minutes; at least it was better than last week's record holder, which was 18 minutes." I remember in one briefing I couldn't contain myself, and eventually said, "Pardon the interruption, but it's now 25 minutes into the briefing and you still haven't said what you do." Stunned silence from the vendor, and then a hesitant, "Uh, we offer an easy-to-use data mining product for marketing professionals." "Oh, OK. You should have said that up front. I've spent the past 25 minutes trying to figure it out."
It's simple. Say what you do. Up front.