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Worst Impression or First Impression

2 Oct, 2006 By: Jack Duncan imageSource

Worst Impression or First Impression

As more and more dealerships are getting involved with Solution Selling, the
importance of a smooth installation and implementation has reached critical
mass. This major step is your chance to make a great first impression and have
that "customer for life" type of satisfaction or, unfortunately, make a worst
impression and ultimately lose business in the process. Remember, bad news
travels much faster than good, affecting referrals.

Solution Selling absolutely must involve trained individuals who are able to
ensure that the crafted solution is not only feasible, but will work for that
customer for years to come. Solutions should be tested in a lab environment when
necessary to avoid crashing vital equipment and data. There is no worse time to
find that an upgrade or something similar does not work or fails than just after
the conversion/ installation has been performed. Proper testing and training is
not only vital, it may well be the difference between liability being covered by
your insurance carrier or not, if a situation goes wrong. Try telling someone at
a failed installation that you "thought the technician was trained."

One of the key critical elements of making that great first impression is the
Network Survey and Scope of Work which too many times is overlooked as a pain in
the you know what! Often times the response from the marketing rep is, "I don’t
understand all of that stuff." This answer begs the response, "Then what are you
doing selling it?"

Simply stated, this is the time to involve that properly trained individual
who can "talk the talk and walk the walk." Your customers’ IT professionals are
very protective of their networks and systems and if they detect that someone is
not properly trained or informed of situations, you will see road blocks begin
to come up immediately.


You need to know what operating systems are in use at the customer’s site as
well as any service packs or patches that may have been installed. Things such
as memory, processor speed, disk space,etc.,are critical for servers and
workstations.  How and what software is used and how often, are vital bits  of
information. The more data you move the more you tax system limits.  Switches,
network interface card speeds, types of wiring etc., all play important roles in
a smooth working system. Are there proper network cabling and outlets available?
If possible try to get a network diagram to visually see how the system ‘s  laid
out. Don’t forget remote locations or individuals who work from a home office.

Solution Definition

What is the proposed solution and how will it be used at the customer
location? What equipment and software will be used to implement that solution?
Is it expandable to accommodate growth? How does this solution affect currently
used software and hardware? Is there an effect on infrastructure? As an example,
does this solution require faster Internet speeds for remote locations or
special firewalls for security, etcetera?

Scope of Work

The SOW should include what will be done at the time of installation and who
will accomplish it. What will be covered under the scope of work is critical, as
well as what is not covered, or can be done at an extra charge, and what that
charge will be. A perfect example might be to install a connected multi-function
device on a network. The Scope of Work might cover installing drivers on up to
five workstations with additional workstations completed at $25 each. Clearly
spelling out what is covered and what is not will prevent issues later such as,
"My Internet provider has changed and all my IP addresses must be changed, will
you do it at no charge?"


Expectations should be spelled out clearly as far as what will be required of
the customer as well as you, the provider. Does the customer have dedicated IT
people and if so, what is their contact information? Get them involved as early
in the process as possible. How much time will be required of them and will it
be during normal working hours or after? Are there any items that must be
changed, installed, etc., prior to the installation and if so, who will arrange


Once installation and implementation is completed, who will perform training
and for how many hours? Is there training necessary for the system
administrator, and if so, how many hours for that? How long is training
available at no cost? After that period ends, what is the cost of additional

Technical Support

Is there a warranty period, and if so, how long? What is covered under the
warranty? After warranty expiration, what support is available, what are the
costs and available programs? Is a block of time available or another support
program? What about telephone hotline support?


Probably as important as any other element of the document is the Acceptance
Agreement where the customer must sign and agree that the installation has been
accomplished to their satisfaction. This indicates the installation and training
requirements have been met and any issues going forward must be addressed under
warranty or some other support agreement. Failure to include this section in the
document or not getting the required signature has left far too many dealers
holding the bag and having to return, over and over again, with no way to charge
the customer for the support. A very expensive oversight indeed! Don’t put
yourself in the position of having to give away the services of your expensive
technical staff.

The proper crafting of these documents can eliminate many of the common
OTSU’s (Opportunities to Screw Up!) that you can run into, helping to ensure
that you have made a great first impression with your customer.

Once the documents are created, you must ensure that they are used in each
and every installation without fail. The more details that are included, the
fewer surprises you will encounter, and fewer man-hours wasted during the
process. Dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s will insure that we do indeed make
a great first impression as a professional services provider.

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