As good as my 2×4 detector is, it's still not perfect

We don’t like being used as a 2×4 (two-by-four) … basically a heavy chunk of wood used to beat someone into submission. Some of the surest signs of 2×4-dom are when we are asked for an onsite loaner. The theory behind this is supposed to be that a customer will evaluate a unit in their environment, give it a rigorous going over, and then make a purchase decision based upon that.
This isn’t how it actually works. But the theory sounds nice, especially if you have a better product (better price, performance, reliability, …). You might think you are going to win, because you are better.
But then something interesting happens. Your unit is racked. Traffic/work is generated. And the customer walks the sales staff of their preferred customer right by our unit, with our logo prominently displayed. And lights-a-blinking. I’ll leave the rest of this to your imagination.
This is why we don’t do loaners anymore. That and we got them back in badly beat-up condition quite often. Took a while for me to learn when we were being an involuntary 2×4.
Experienced this again recently, though without the joy of sending the unit out to the customer. I’m going to need a better detector before we send quotes/proposals out. I don’t mind comparisons on the customers side. We will win those. I mind when we are used to whip a competitor, without being given a realistic consideration for use.
Its especially sad considering that some of our customers have our units and our competitors units, and have had some very nice things to say about our units (both in an absolute and relative sense). That is, against the same competitors, people who bought, have been quite satisfied with them. I guess the positive is that those folks come back and buy more. Success is the best revenge or something.

2 thoughts on “As good as my 2×4 detector is, it's still not perfect”

  1. Perhaps you should charge a small monthly fee for loaning your units. Why not even make this one of your main business models: making money by loaning units in addition to selling them?

  2. @mrb
    There are some users whom are open for this, but few people who want to “evaluate” it want to pay for the evaluation. We offer free remote evaluation, via ssh or rdp/vnc at our lab. We will run customer benchmarking/testing code and give them direct access to the same unit we run on. We’ll give them access to as close a configuration to what they might be interested in purchasing.
    The people really interested in purchasing from us will take us up on one of these alternatives. The people who want to lever their preferred supplier will howl in protest.
    As for the equipment loan … we can do this today, equipment leases are available. Its just that the terms for them are generally not that good due to depreciation rates, residuals, etc.
    We are open to and thinking about new concepts for models. Thinking about hybrid models right now … something along the lines of what you wrote here, but with private clouds as a service, and some nice scale up/down capability.

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