We have all heard the phrase “would you like fries with that?” Today everyone seems to be asking “would you like services with that?”
I have never been one to buy services – I don’t understand why I should pay good money for something that has to be so customized that I have pay someone more money to do it, then pay again when I want to upgrade the product to the latest release, and then pay again to customize it. And I can understand why some people look to the cloud as a better solution – ‘Hey, let’s just rent it until I don’t need it anymore!’ (But that’s a different post 🙂
What I have always tried to do is provide a shrink-wrapped product in which, if you invest a little of your time in it, you can make customizations and stay in the upgrade loop. What does ‘invest a little of your time’ mean to me? Read a few pages in the manual or online help and watch 20-30 minutes of specific YouTube content. About the same amount of time you would spend learning about the new GPS and XM radio in your car.
I have had prospects tell us they wouldn’t buy our product unless we could sell them consulting. “Why do you need the consulting?” we always ask. They rarely can answer that; they just know they have to have consulting because everyone else sells consulting with their product. RFPs where we meet or exceed in every category are rejected because when it came to on-site consulting, we said we didn’t do it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we provide great services to our customers – I just don’t look at it as a source of revenue. It’s a cost of doing business. There are plenty that will argue with me that services should be a revenue generator or at least be revenue-neutral…but never should services cost you money. I just don’t think that is a great way to build a long term shrink-wrapped product company.
In Version 12 I think we have really gotten back to our roots and re-embraced the shrink-wrapped model. In about a year we have completely changed from a product that had a single look and feel to a product that can look and feel different for every client, all without paying one dime in services.