When IT pros make purchase decisions, one of their top priorities is compatibility with their organization’s infrastructure and the devices that connect to it.
Any technology acquisition — enterprise software, a new firewall, more server space, a productivity suite and more — will have a knock-on effect on existing systems. Does the primary purchase require additional upgrades to run seamlessly?
That question can set up a chicken-and-egg conundrum for IT buyers — and present an opportunity for marketers who can help them resolve it.
So how long do organizations hold onto their hardware?
When it comes to updating gear for end users — including mobile devices, desktop machines and peripherals — tech buyers have to consider whether current equipment is really pushing the ceiling of performance and compatibility with mission-critical systems.
A rule of thumb for IT buyers: The smaller and more mobile the device, the faster its life cycle. Organizations usually churn through laptops within a cycle of a few years, while desktop machines often hang around five years or more, and servers as well as peripherals like printers often brush up against the 10-year mark.
What usually drives these hardware purchase decisions? Besides equipment failure, the biggest motivator is the opportunity costs of saddling employees with systems that can no longer run mission-critical applications.
That should put smart marketers on notice: The more you understand about your customers’ IT ecosystems, the better-equipped you are to be a trusted partner in purchase decisions.
Some points to bear in mind:
Think about the big picture. Whether your company sells the hardware destined for end users’ hands or software or infrastructure that requires up-to-date systems, understanding the organization’s tech landscape is key to winning the kind of trust that builds repeat business. If you’re selling your product in an information vacuum, chances are you’ll miss opportunities to find the perfect functional fit.
Upsell with caution. Convincing a buyer — often a C-suite executive outside the tech stack — to purchase the top of the line may give you a quick adrenaline fix and boost your brand’s short-term numbers. But if IT decision-makers conclude that you’ve sold them a product that won’t run with their current systems or packs power that won’t be needed until it’s almost obsolete, it’s unlikely you’ll get another opportunity to close a deal.
Patience is a virtue. Learning about the problems the buyer is trying to solve, tracing the complex web of compatibilities required to keep teams productive and identifying the sweet spots where your product will provide some room for growth without wasting bandwidth … All these activities require time and care. If you consider bridge-building a long-term investment, you can earn pride of place as a go-to source for purchasing advice.