The Anatomy of a Purchase

Working in a sales-oriented part of IBM, it’s interesting for me to be occasionally on the buying side of the equation and note my own reactions to different criteria, brands and situations.

Recently I bought a second-hand X-Type Jaguar 2.1L SE (Singapore import), after considering a BMW 320i 2.2L E46 and a Nissan Skyline V35 2.5L (that’s Infiniti G35 for our American friends). My criteria setting out was for a compact 2005+ 6-cylinder vehicle with low mileage. I do about 26,000 Kms a year and want to keep the car for 3-5 years and my experience suggests a 6-cyl is good for 200,000 Kms.

I can imagine an IT buyer setting out to buy a storage solution with criteria that might parallel this.

Fuel consumption (think elements of TCO) on the Jag and the beamer were similar, with the Skyline being a bit better even though it is a larger vehicle with a larger engine. Also there are a lot of V35 Skylines around, quite a lot of BMW 320i’s around, and not quite so many X-type Jags around.

How much weight do you give to leadership in your market? How much weight do you give to TCO over purchase price? Both of these turned out to be considerations for me, but not big enough to swing the final decision.

I did my homework on the technology, and the reputation, and the prices and availability of each. I looked briefly also at Nissan Maxima/Teana, and Holden/Chevrolet Epica (Daewoo Tosca) but they were both a bit bland for my taste [in the words of the Suburban Reptiles “Told what to do by the Megaton, so we may as well die while we’re having fun”].

So I’m relating this to how an IT buyer might go about drawing up a shortlist of vendors. A lot of buyers want a bit of sizzle with their sausage.

My personal preference was for the Skyline, but the Jag I finally test drove was very tidy, and my wife loved the leather seats, and maybe I was influenced by memories of riding in my uncle’s XJ6 as a child. Also the Skyline I wanted was going to take another week to arrive, and I’m not really a patient guy. I had sold my 2005 Suzuki Swift Sport within two days of deciding to sell it and I was ready to buy again. Also worth noting is that the Skyline was my wife’s third choice of the three, partly because it was the biggest of the three. The Skyline’s Nissan 350z technology and it’s name link to the GTR Skylines that cleaned out the big V8’s back in ’91 & ’92 at Bathurst also make it more of a boys’ car I suppose.

So more parallels with my mythical IT buyer taking the opinions of other influencers and circumstances into account, and do you take into account what’s around the corner, or just what’s immediately on the table?

The BMW was there mainly out of curiosity – I have always associated BMW’s with people who wanted to impress others with their success : ) e.g. Real Estate Agents. Now I know that isn’t fair on either BMW or Real Estate Agents, which is why I wanted to include the beamer in my eval, but the prejudice is still embedded somewhere deep in my mind.

I know that some IT buyers carry unfair prejudices about storage companies also, and sometimes include vendors or products on their shortlist more out of curiosity than out of any real intention of buying.

One friend warned me about Jaguar unreliability, but I did my homework. X-type (with it’s Ford Mondeo heritage) seemed a pretty safe choice. I wanted to get an AA check done, but I realised that would be a hassle and would add days to the purchase, so instead I negotiated 3 years mechanical insurance into the purchase. So either I get points for being flexible about the best way to manage risk, or I lose points for quickly abandoning my original plan when it started to look inconvenient.

As it turned out the Skyline and the Jag were the same price, and the beamer was about 15% more, which made it easy to eliminate the beamer, seeing as I’d never really wanted it in the first place. Its one nice feature was that it was the smallest of the 3 vehicles, so technically it was the best fit for my core criteria. Also the Jag I wanted was pulled from sale, and I had to go to a 2004 model, which was older than my starting criterion, but it was the best example of an X-type I could find so I made an exception for it.

I am sure IT buyers sometimes re-define their business requirements to accommodate their desires or the convenience of the moment.

All in all I’m happy with my X-type Jag. Slightly concerned about fuel consumption, but surprised how many X-types I have seen in the last two days. I’ve also been surprised that most people over-estimate the value of the car. It probably only cost me 15% more up-front than buying a much lower spec 4 cylinder Toyota Corolla for example, which in my book is definitely a sausage without any sizzle.

My concrete contractor brother did call me a wanker when he saw the Jag (again probably based on an instant over-estimation of what I’d paid) but I didn’t feel like a wanker. Strangely I knew I would have felt like a wanker if I’d gone with the beamer though (no slur intended on other beamer owners) and I probably would have felt cooler if I’d gone with the Skyline, but the X-type Jag won the day.

So the winner was not the cheapest, or the coolest, or the best technical fit, but on balance the most convenient, the easiest to buy, and the best overall fit.

Is that how people buy IT storage solutions?

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One Response

  1. […] in 2011 I blogged on buying a new car, entitled the anatomy of a purchase. Well, thanks to Ford/Jaguar’s fine British engineering (and my tendency to sit in rush hour […]

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