Questions Remain for High-Tech Sales
Welcome to our annual technology review. In this issue you can read about e-commerce, online management and smart cards and get the opinions of other distributors about the Internet. But following last year's technology bust, skepticism remains about whether or not there are advantages to selling and using high-tech products.
With technology products, an underlying question of trust remains as a bitter aftertaste. Will the companies that provide high-tech products be around long enough to service or update their offerings when the time comes? Will companies that offer online services flame out in the IPO process? Will a promising company be sold to a rival who's technology may differ? And, if so, how can you handle these situations with your customers?
The more distributors there are that offer the same Web service or online management program, the more likely it is that the product will remain on the market. But how, then, can a distributorship differentiate its offering?
The next question with high-tech products is how do you measure the value to both your customers and yourself? There is no simple formula. In many cases adopting new technology means a hefty upfront investment and long-term maintenance costs for changing the way you do business—perhaps for both you and your clients. Will the new technology generate savings for everyone over the long run, and how can a smaller distributor get involved?
Perhaps some larger distributors with an established technological base would be willing to allow independent distributors access to their products for appropriate compensation. This would spread the costs, reduce the risk and allow smaller distributors to utilize and sell high technology while still retaining their independence for everything else.