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    How do you convince the customer of your product line's value without hard data?

  1. This is why God invented the beta site. The early placement of the system or use of the product should be conditioned upon your getting data back. People that either buy or partner with you in the early phase of the product usually do so for a technical or other advantage to them. In exchange, it is reasonable to ask for some data back.
  2. I will give you a list with the least effective ways at the beginning and most effective at the end. First is testimonials. If you don't have hard data, people do believe testimonials—"if you'll call so and so at Motorola at Austin she'll tell you all about the product." Second is extended or extreme warranties or guarantees—"I'll absolutely guarantee this for twice the period and if doesn't work as expected, I'll take it back no questions asked." That's how one of the Korean car companies is penetrating the United States market. Third is a free trial period—"I'm so convinced this product is right for you, I'll put it on your floor for free for six months." One of the companies I worked with two years ago put their product on the Intel floor for free and sent their employee to operate it for six months. Their competitor said I refuse to do that—"I've got the best product, best history, best proof." Our company got all of Intel's business by putting in the free one for six months. Four is front row seats for the Giants or A's game. Five, frequent or expensive meals at nice restaurants. Six, the best sales person in that territory, with the most relationships, and who is the most convincing.
  3. I love your comments, I just don't agree with them. All of those things are extremely important, but the question is "how do you convince the customer of your product's value"? The answer is, you don't. Without the data, I don't believe you convince the customer. The ways just mentioned are substitutes to get the customer to dig out the proof himself. Convincing him will ultimately require the information. The sales person is what it is going to take to get the customer to make that kind of commitment. With a fairly healthy commitment it is going to be tough and freebies are going to be expensive so you better have a fairly healthy balance sheet.
  4. I think it starts with the MRS that identified the critical differentiating needs of the product. These needs the customer normally can't get elsewhere today or you are offering it at a greater value. As the product is introduced you should be able to demonstrate how those needs are satisfied. Without hard data it will be an uphill climb. At this point some people revert to relationships, and that can make or break you.
  5. That's what demo labs are for in our business. You bring customer's wafers in, prove out the process, and show them the result. The demonstrations in your own facility are hard data, and it shouldn't be hard to get. This, of course, does not provide you with reliability data—so here you may be back to the sales person and relationships.
  6. Data is certainly one good way to convince the customer and overcome objections. Generally speaking they want that data on hand and on record so when they make the buying decision they can point back to the data and say that's why I made the decision. But, in fact, the decision was made on emotion—they liked somebody or your company better. Have as much data as possible, and the best sales person, and the best warranties. It's real simple—if you want to win, be like the NY Yankees, pay the most money for the best players. In this industry personal relationships outweigh many other factors. Be willing to pay that sales person who has the contacts, reputation, and skill $100,000 more than the CEO so you can secure that extra $20-million in business is a wise decision.