Here's Why Your Customer Won't Always Care If Your Product Is Better
We start the meeting and the project manager explains
If you think better always prevails in a high-tech environment, then here's a story about the unrivaled persuasive power of simplicity -
Back when I was a young engineer in R&D, I developed a very small and cheap component for replacing a rather costly outdated one in a project I was working on.
One day the head of a manufacturing line calls me up and schedules a meeting with me and a project manager who may need what I've developed for another project.
We start the meeting and the project manager explains:
I have a rather old product.
Despite its antiquated, it has proven very successful with our clients, and I don't want to change anything...
My problem is this one component that's obsolete in the design and I have a new batch to manufacture... it's hard to find a trustworthy vendor with who has this component in their storage
... I heard you designed a cheap new component that can replace it - is that true?
So I show him my design and reply:
"It's much better than you think - see, not only will my new cheap component replace your obsolete component - it actually replaces the whole module in which your obsolete component is in, and it's much more robust than this old design you currently have. Integrating my new design into your product will literally save you hundreds of dollars in manufacturing costs!".
And I had this pretentious young engineer's grin on my face.
He was stunned... couldn't believe how good this sounds...
He looked at me...
Then he looked at my new design...
Then he looked at the head of the manufacturing line...
Then he calmed down and thought for a minute
Then he quietly got up and said "in second thought, I think I'll manage to find some vendor I can buy that obsolete component from... thanks for your time anyway.."
And he left the room.
I was shocked!
I looked at the head of the manufacturing line and said "is this a joke?! What the hell just happened here?! I showed this person a dream solution for his problem and he doesn't want it?"
And then he explained something I'll never forget:
"Look Shlomi, your design is good, and indeed it'll save the project a lot of money, but look at this situation from that guy's point of view - now he'll have to go get a budget for this new component integration... tests... regulatory... documentation... instead of all that headache, he could just go look some more for a vendor with the obsolete component and it'll give him some piece of mind until the next batch he'll do sometime in the future."
The moral of the story?
When selling B2B, the person on the other end is usually buying for a company, not himself, but at the end of the day - he's a person with his own self-interest in top priority, and if the choice in favor for the company contradicts that self-interest of his - guess which choice he'll make?...
Yup - a better solution for the business may not always be better for the person who needs to carry it out.
Always present your product and its implementation as the easiest thing to do - simply because laziness is a very tough adversary.
Shlomi is a marketing strategist and sales copywriter. He helps startups and small businesses increase revenue and profits through effective sales messages guaranteed to convert.