Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

How to Sell Computers

I’ve always found it rather amusing, even hilarious, to listen in on computer sales people trying to make sense of technology to the non-PC literate consumer. For example, this afternoon I was just overhearing a customer asking if a certain notebook would be able to play “all games”. The sales person replied, referring to the 160GB hard disk in the specifications, that there will be no problem with any games. Yes, I know, what has 160GB disk got to do with game software compatibility?

Ok, how about 3GB RAM vs 2GB RAM? Oh, 3GB RAM means better. Yah, how informative. How much capacity of hard disk is “big enough”? “160GB is big enough, if under 160GB, then it is too small.”

In another case, customer was asking about the 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo on one notebook vs the 2.4GHz CPU of another notebook. Sales person was trying to push the notebook with slower CPU: “1.8GHz actually can support all the games already, no need for 2.4GHz.” (Customer wanted to play games on notebook.)

For PC techies, these explanations are just totally and completely wrong or irrelevant. The questions aren’t even being answered! Yes, but to the credit of these sales people, how else would you make sense of the technology to people who are totally PC illiterate? I think I would have given up in exasperation if I had to explain these things!

Problem with PC manufacturers is that they tend to sell the technology features too much, without focusing on what customers want out of the product. At the risk of sounding like a fanatic Apple evangelist, just take a look at the MacBook section on Apple’s website. They focus on what users can do with their notebook. If they wanted to talk about their latest Intel Core 2 Duo with 45-nm process technology, they also translate that to mean faster and snappier performance and quantified the improvement.

Let’s look at cars for a moment. Many car buyers actually don’t know and don’t want to care about VVTi, VTEC, CVT, CVVT, double wishbone, SOHC, DOHC, etc? There are many more important things to buyers. For some buyers, cost is of paramount importance: Upfront purchase price, maintenance cost (servicing, repairs, etc), running cost (fuel efficiency, etc). Others may care about design and looks, or about various functionalities.

The car brochures will still talk about all the techie specifications. The brochure is incomplete with these information. But the car brochures don’t focus on the specifications (notice the specifications are seldom up front at the start).

I wonder why PCs are being marketed differently. Are they too commonplace that the differences just come down to technical specifications?

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