Why Technology Companies Should Sell Service Capabilities Along With New Features and Specifications

Have you ever heard of anyone searching the Internet or consulting a trusted friend to decide which type of cereal or toothpaste to buy? Do you think anyone ever calls a soft drink company to ask if they offer 24-hour support? Most likely not. However, you probably did a lot of Internet research, consulted friends and read product reviews before deciding to purchase a new technology product.

Marketing new technology products is much different than marketing consumer products that carry little or no risk. This is because there’s little or no loss penalty for making the wrong decision. Therefore, marketing these types of products relies on name recognition, image and branding because most products in a given category are interchangeable, and because customers are willing to accept the claims of the seller at face value.

Customers have more at stake when purchasing technology products because they tend to be expensive and can be complicated to set up and use. Therefore, purchase decisions tend to be dependent upon the seller’s ability to reduce perceived risk. This is why it’s important for technology companies to focus on “intangible” factors such as ease of use, product support, and company reputation when marketing their products instead of emphasizing features and technical specifications.

Unfortunately, this seldom happens. Technology companies normally market and sell products by emphasizing price, special features and technical specifications because these criteria are seen as most important by the engineers and scientists who typically run high tech companies. However, if they asked customers, they’d probably find that they should focus on the “intangible” factors rather than try to compete on features alone.

At a company I used to work for, we sold a software application that was used primarily by design and manufacturing engineers. It was the company’s “flagship” product, and was up to version 10, or thereabouts. So, the development team had had multiple releases to add all kinds of innovative features and functionality. The marketing team conducted a survey to see how customers were using all the features and determine which ones they thought were most important. The results indicated that as wonderful as all these new features were, customers weren’t using most of them. One of the questions asked them to rate the importance of additional features we were considering for future releases, and most of the respondents said none were important. Instead, they asked when specific “bugs” would be fixed and asked for support on specific issues that involved basic features.