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Hi John,

I've been bitten by this scenario twice now over the years.

I've architected a solution with high availability for
Production and DR sites as per the customers' current
environment and requirements, resulting in 4 devices. I've
then lost the deal to another Vendor who only proposed 2
devices and was half the price.

The customer agreed that my solution was best, but I guess
someone higher up only saw the cost.

How do I best approach this scenario next time?

Rob - A
Hello Rob,

Thanks for the question – Wow - yes - that is a perennial
issue amongst SE's. You develop and construct the perfect
solution that meets the clients requirements, anticipates
future needs - and then you get undercut by a competitor
who proposes something that is cheaper, and probably
doesn't meet all the requirements, but is good enough. Had
that happen a few times to me in my SE life.

There are two approaches that immediately come to mind. I,
surprisingly enough, opt for #2 as it's been very successful
for me in my current career.

1.        When proposing your "full" solution you should pre-
emptively attack the "cheaper" solution and do everything
you can to highlight the risk of going with anything but the
"full" solution. You're not trying to scare the customer
(that's the job of the rep), but you do have the
responsibility to make sure they fully understand the
consequences of only using 2 devices instead of 4. That,
from a technical viewpoint, should be clearly laid out in the
proposal - and then, if possible, linked to the economic
consequences of downtime, being hacked, losing files, the
next typhoon etc.

2.        Give them a proposal with 2 options. A Gold and a
Silver version. The Gold is the full, 4-device layout that
meets every need and requirement and will do so in the
future. The 2-device version is one that works for them, is
cheaper, but won't protect them in 100% of the
circumstances. Give them a tabular comparison between
Gold and Silver. You'd be surprised how often your
apparent cheap client goes for the Gold.

Here is my personal analogy. I drive a Ford Escape SUV, my
wife drives a gorgeous BMW 535i (car snob that she is).
Both cars get us from A to B and have about the same fuel
economy. I'm a simple car guy so I choose to drive the
Ford, even though I could afford to buy myself a BMW or
Audi. BUT .. if my car gets a flat tire I have to stop and either
fix it myself or call AAA and wait 90 minutes. If she gets a
flat tire she can continue driving for 50 miles no matter
what. When my car needs servicing I have to drive it to the
Ford Dealership, when her car needs servicing the BMW
dealership comes to pick it up and gives her a replacement
car for the day. She has a rear-view camera, blind-spot
detection, lane-wandering warning and a host of other
safety systems - I have my eyes and the horn to blow.  You
get the idea...

Make up your own analogy, but it's a good story to tell.


(Disclosure - first got this question back in 2009, and this month received two
similar questions about this topic - so decided to update the answer)