I have been meeting with a variety of organizations and what is a reality marketers and product managers often forget is that everyone buys something different even if on surface it seems like they are buying the same thing.  For example, an organization announced that it is looking for 75TB of storage to support their db environment.  It seems pretty straight forward, they need storage.  Then, when you get a little closer, you discover that what they are really buying has little to do with storage at its foundation.

So what was this organization buying?

– the database application required some level of performance and so the storage system had to deliver the best possible performance per GB at the lowest possible  price.  At some point, if all available options were offering the same performance at a similar price point, then the conversation became more based on perception of performance and how much is good enough.

– the last system deployed ran without any issues so we are buying reliability of the brand we have had rather than the unknown of the brand we don’t have any exposure to.

– Operational efficiency and effectiveness – we have been using system A for the past two years and even though the application we will be deploying is very different, there is a perceived notion that we can easily architect the known platform for this use case better than something else

– Support is critical – even though I supposedly have had no issues with the system I have, I want to make sure that I have best support in my neighborhood just in case.

– My friend in company B just deployed a new environment and it includes product A, which means it is good and I too should buy it

– Company X is taking my hardware back and giving me credit, making the purchase less expensive.  I am not sure that it will deliver what I need or want or will be less expensive over time, but it looks good right now.

– I like the new product but I don’t have the resources to evaluate it and it is too much work to do other background checks, I will just buy a product from company I know even if it is doesn’t offer what I really need or want.

– I don’t know what I need but Vendor C just told me something interesting and I want it so I will buy it.

– I don’t like the sales rep from company B so I will buy from company X because their rep is nice.

There are many reasons why purchase decisions don’t seem rational or logical.  Anyone selling in this industry must be aware of who is buying, what they are buying, and why.  The best technology doesn’t always win, but a good enough product with a strong sales and marketing force can become a billion dollar enterprise.