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How Customer Preconceptions Affect Maintenance Contract Sales
By Tom Sweeny, ServiceXRG


Overview

All of the time, effort and planning you put into crafting the perfect portfolio of services may be for naught unless your marketing message is equally well crafted. Customers carry a lot of baggage that can affect their decision to buy support and maintenance contracts even before they evaluate costs and benefits. In many cases these preconceptions are based on situations that have little to do with the services you are selling. Fortunately many preconceptions can be overcome through effective sales and marketing. The key to maximizing support contract sales (attach rates) is to understand primary objections, or preconceptions, and then to craft a compelling response.

Preconception: Support Offers Little or No Value

The single largest preconception that customers have is that they feel that support offers little or no value. Nearly half (45.4%) of IT decision makers surveyed by ServiceXRG feel that support provides little or no value. Over a third (37.1%) of respondents indicate indifference with a middle-of-the-scale response of “Acceptable Value.” The lack of perceived value does not mean that customers will not buy support, but it does mean that your sales team and/or channel partners will need to offer evidence as to why an investment in support and maintenance is justified.

Customer Perceptions of the Value of Support & Maintenance Programs



Source: ServiceXrg

 

Customers Purchase What They Value

Nearly a third of IT decision makers surveyed indicate that they are highly likely to buy support for IT products while the rest indicate that they need to be convinced that the services are aligned with their needs. The top reasons customers indicate that they purchase support is to gain access to expertise to help resolve issues should they arise. Getting systems up and running, maximizing uptime, and protecting their investment through access to updates are also among top reasons customer invest in support and maintenance.

Preconceptions about the value of support exist when customers lack the confidence that service programs can deliver the necessary expertise to keep systems running, or when they do not understand how services will help to achieve these ends. One of the top reasons for not purchasing support is a belief that they have the necessary expertise in-house to accomplish these goals. The goal of an effective sales and marketing plan is to connect the services you provide with customers primary objectives.

Customers’ Top Reasons for Buying Support & Maintenance Programs

Source: ServiceXrg


Sell the Value not the Features

Customer propensity to buy support nearly doubles when perceptions are favorable about the value of support. This is intuitive, but often overlooked in support sales and marketing initiatives. For customers that understand the value of support it is a matter of helping them to choose the right program. For those customers that perceive little or no value in support, the sales process must highlight the direct benefits to the customer (or the customer’s business) in quantifiable terms.

Customer Propensity to Buy Support & Maintenance by Perceived Value

Source: ServiceXrg

Support sales and Marketing Maturity

Selling support and maintenance is no easy feat: Doing so depends greatly on the maturity of an organization’s support sales and marketing capabilities. Maturity, in this case, is a measure of an organization’s ability to package offerings that meet the needs of customers; price offerings at levels that are commensurate with perceived benefits; position offerings to convey maximum value; and develop effective sales channels. Another hallmark of sales and marketing maturity is the ability to measure sales performance in order to optimize results. If you are interested to see how your support sales and marketing maturity stacks up against the industry check out ServiceXRG’s Support Sales and Marketing Maturity report.

About the Study

ServiceXRG has completed a study of the interest, perceptions, and buying behaviors of IT decisions makers with respect support and maintenance services. The study consists of responses by individuals with decision making authority in companies with more than 100 employees across multiple geographies and industries. For more information contact Tom Sweeny (tsweeny@servicexrg.com).

About ServiceXRG

ServiceXRG specializes in helping companies develop and execute service and support strategies that strengthen customer relationships and optimize financial performance from service operations. ServiceXRG’s research provides a balanced perspective of the IT services industry with views from users, service professionals and suppliers. ServiceXRG combines years of real-world service industry expertise with a unique ability to collect, analyze and present high-quality industry data. ServiceXRG provides management consulting, custom benchmarking, competitive analysis and customer satisfaction assessment, and publishes a series of reports on industry trends and best practices. For more information, visit www.servicexrg.com.

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