Talk to End Users About Their Business Problems

Companies want solutions that can address their issues, so that's what RFID solutions providers need to discuss—not their technology.
Published: April 2, 2012

End users don’t care about technology. They care about solving business problems. They may be concerned about reducing the number of lost assets, the labor costs associated with tracking work-in-process, or the amount of time employees spend searching for equipment. Or, they may seek to improve the way they do business. They want to increase asset-utilization rates, streamline business processes or improve inventory accuracy.

But often, solutions providers are so proud of their technology—and, usually, rightly so—that they fail to consider an end user’s point-of-view. During past years, while strolling the exhibit hall at our RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, I’d often hear exhibitors saying things like, “We have a lightweight protocol that allows for faster data-transfer speeds,” or “Our reader boasts the longest read range in the industry” or “Our software can generate more than 2,000 different reports.”

Those things are important, and eventually, end users will want to delve into a product’s great features. But before doing so, they first want to know if a product or service can solve their particular business problems, or improve the way they do business. Having a lightweight protocol is important for extending a wireless sensor’s battery life, and for potentially reducing the total cost of ownership—but before considering that feature, an oil-company executive would want to know if the sensor could help track valuable assets. Similarly, a solution able to provide 2,000 reports might prove invaluable, but potential end users would first want to know if that system would improve inventory accuracy.

If I were training booth staff for LIVE! 2012—being held this week in Orlando, Fla.—I would tell my sales team to use RFID Connect to request meetings with those attendees whose problems my solution can solve—and only those for whom I have a solution. Instead of trying to sell asset-tracking software to anyone who happened to enter the booth, I would target specific end users.

Moreover, I would have my salespeople ask each person they met, “What is the business issue you have that you’d like RFID to address?” I would have my team ask a lot of questions regarding what end users want to track, over what distance and to what aim. And if they met potential customers with business problems that the technology couldn’t solve, I would have them point those people to companies that offer the proper solutions.

For instance, if I sold passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) systems and an application clearly required an active solution, rather than telling a potential customer that we could make UHF work for that application, I would point the customer in the direction of vendors selling active RFID solutions. Too often, salespeople claim their system can do the job, even though it really can’t. As a result, they lose credibility with that customer forever. So if that potential customer were to require a passive system at some point, it would certainly not return to a firm that had tried to make the wrong-size slipper fit.

I have always believed that the various types of RFID technologies, when applied correctly, can improve the way that companies do business. But for that to happen, RFID solutions providers need to speak the language of business, and understand the problems that end users face. Only then can they begin addressing those issues on a much larger scale.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor’s Note archive or RFID Connect.