I celebrated Boxing Day this year like I imagine many bay area babies do: fielding instant message based solicitations for tech support from family. Evidently my mother went a little crazy with the reclining action of her business class seat on the way home from Hawaii and somehow managed to crack her laptop screen. The circumstances remain cloudy, and my recommendation arrived tardily; by the time Mom and I connected she’d completed purchase of a replacement. Having successfully sidestepped responsibility, I quickly forgot all about it. That is, until I got a call a few days later…
So I get on the phone and half way thru some story about end of year bowling drama, Mom stops – and in an Erin style conversation pivot – goes: “Oh! Did I tell you I called Tiger Direct about the laptop?!?” Obviously, she hadn’t, but apparently a new screen for a laptop doesn’t, in fact, exceed the value of the laptop itself. Go figure. I went on to learn of a shop at Clark and Bryn Mawr with “100s of screens in stock that would install while you wait.” Naturally, the exchange made me wonder: how often are existing solutions prematurely replaced?
Purveyors of “up and coming” or “next generation” technology certainly benefit from prospects with itchy trigger fingers, but those of us who make a living off annuities, renewals, or products with long on-ramps probably perceive panicky purchasers differently. Can we prevent our customers from turning to the competition for a solution? If so, should we educate away instincts or manage redirection reactively? Is it better to position our product as pliable, something worth upgrading – or take a queue from Apple and condition the herd to oscillate about the street, always in pursuit of freshly fertilized foliage?
Personally I’m torn on the issue but, like my mother, instinctively consider upgrades and repairs iff I can complete said maintenance independently. Now, I realize we probably don’t get to vote on product design philosophies, but they influence our prospect’s proclivities. Understanding which end of the intended shelf life spectrum your product resides influences how you attack your deal. Do you remind your prospect that simple may only scratch the surface, or point out overlooked sophistication subtly nestled in your more complex solution? Perhaps a little of both.
So this week, don’t underestimate the diminishing cost of change. A product that empowers prospects to initiate updates may have a leg up on its codependance cultivating competition, but customers conditioned to expect instant gratification will quickly blame the application for their own inadequacies. Remind customers that any solution worthy of a line in the budget must also be worthy of an investment of time and talent; for it’s these three components of capital, together, that deliver real return.