In the retail sector, many proprietors stake their fortunes on the phenomenon of the impulse buy. If you’ve ever heard (or held) a screaming toddler who was hypnotized by the shelves of candy that line most grocery store checkout lanes, you’ve already had an up-close-and-personal encounter with the concept.
Although it reigns supreme in the retail market, the impulse-buy model doesn’t really translate that well into the VAR space. Sure, a few techie types out there may salivate over the prospect of getting their hands on the latest release, but generally speaking, the impulse-buy model is a dead end if you’re looking to create a loyal, long-term clientèle.
Some smart resellers are taking the opposite approach and actually partnering with their clients to create “technology roadmaps.” These documents are strategic plans that help predict and schedule a firm’s technology purchasing decisions in the short- and long-term.
By offering to help your clients devise their own technology roadmaps, you can help ensure that they are making sound technology purchasing decisions, while also significantly increasing the chances that they will return to you when the time comes to make their next purchase. Here are some leading questions to ask in the process of helping a client sketch out a technology roadmap.
What are their most pressing problems? Most businesses begin to think seriously about purchasing new technology when they’re spurred on by a problem or a significant shortcoming in their current capabilities. What are their main problems and challenges right now? Will they be in the same boat in a year? How about in five years?
Investigate solutions that meet as many of their current and predicted needs as possible. Explore the current market offerings and settle on a list of four or five key technologies. The ideal solution is one that can simultaneously address as many of their needs as possible, although this isn’t always realistic. Although budget is an important consideration, try to encourage clients to base buying decisions on value and ROI, rather than focusing solely on price.
Right-size technology purchases to fit current and future business outlooks. Sit down with their team and try to assess the firm’s prospects and needs. It’s difficult to make long-term predictions, but factor in recent trends in their industry and in the larger economy, as well. Whether they’re still working to establish their business or they’re well on their way to making it big, make sure the technology roadmap offers routes that reflect all of these contingencies and more.
When change happens, rewrite the map. Remind your clients that a technology roadmap isn’t set in stone. Instead, it’s intended to be fluid and flexible enough to adapt to emerging challenges. If change happens unexpectedly—and it almost inevitably will—they can revisit their technology roadmap and revise it to reflect the new situation.
Do you offer planning services such as technology roadmaps to your clients? If so, have you found that they impact your customers’ future buying decisions? Share your story in the comments.