Overcoming Customer Resistance to Innovation, by Paul Sloane

Sometimes the biggest resistance to innovation comes from the person who should benefit most from it – the customer. Customers can be very conservative. When you come along with an unorthodox new product or service they are often initially unimpressed. Why should the buyer take a risk with your unproven new gismo? He knows that new products often have bugs and he does not want to be the guinea pig on which you experiment. He is familiar with the current method – why should he change?

Who would want to be the first customer for a fax machine or indeed for a telephone? It seems ridiculous now but selling the first few telephones must have been really difficult. And how about laser eye treatment? How would you find the first person to try it when there was a safe alternative in a pair of spectacles?

This is understandable and needs careful handling. Your sales people will doubtless be adept at explaining the benefits of your new products but the customer is right to be sceptical. You need to find ways to reassure him and to mitigate his risk.

At the same time you need early adopters so that you can get some traction in the market, customer feedback and positive references for your innovation. So acknowledge the client’s concerns and put offers in place to allay them. You cannot just use your standard terms and conditions for a radical new product. You have to be innovative in your sales approach too. For example you could:

  • Allow them a free trial of the new product
  • Continue to provide the old service so that they can go back to it at any time.
  • Offer a money back guarantee.
  • Provide a special service level that gives them immediate access to your top support experts.
  • Agree joint service level agreements.
  • Stress the payback and benefits they will receive and even make payment dependent on their being achieved.
  • Promise to arrange a positive PR result for them in the trade press if the trial succeeds.

Above all you must choose the right early customers. Some people love new technology and others hate it. Select the best early adopters from among your top clients. Appeal to their sense of pioneering adventure. Stress the prestige that goes with early success – for both of you. Make sure that they share in the recognition of a successful launch. If all goes well then ask them for a testimonial. You can help them be seen as an industry leader in trade journal stories and at conferences. You are in it together and it must be a win/win for both parties.

Significance to our readers: No World Borders specializes in unlocking the value in your organization by facilitating change and maximizing innovation that develops value.  We have helped early stage ventures launch new products, and enterprise companies transform process.  Paul Sloan, our advisor is available for speaking engagements.  Contact us for more details.

Paul Sloane is the founder of Destination Innovation. He writes and speaks on lateral thinking and innovation. His book, The Innovative Leader, is published by Kogan-Page.

Michael F. Arrigo

Michael is Managing Partner & CEO of No World Borders, a leading healthcare management and IT consulting firm. He serves as an expert witness in Federal and State Court and was recently ruled as an expert by a 9th Circuit Federal Judge. He serves as a patent expert witness on intellectual property disputes, both as a Technical Expert and a Damages expert. His vision for the firm is to continue acquisition of skills and technology that support the intersection of clinical data and administrative health data where the eligibility for medically necessary care is determined. He leads a team that provides litigation consulting as well as advisory regarding medical coding, medical billing, medical bill review and HIPAA Privacy and Security best practices for healthcare clients, Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records. He advises legal teams as an expert witness in HIPAA Privacy and Security, medical coding and billing and usual and customary cost of care, the Affordable Care Act and benefits enrollment, white collar crime, False Claims Act, Anti-Kickback, Stark Law, physician compensation, Insurance bad faith, payor-provider disputes, ERISA plan-third-party administrator disputes, third-party liability, and the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSPA) MMSEA Section 111 reporting. He uses these skills in disputes regarding the valuation of pharmaceuticals and drug costs and in the review and audit of pain management and opioid prescribers under state Standards and the Controlled Substances Act. He consults to venture capital and private equity firms on mHealth, Cloud Computing in Healthcare, and Software as a Service. He advises ERISA self-insured employers on cost of care and regulations. Arrigo was recently retained by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding a significant false claims act investigation. He has provided opinions on over $1 billion in health care claims and due diligence on over $8 billion in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. Education: UC Irvine - Economics and Computer Science, University of Southern California - Business, studies at Stanford Medical School - Biomedical Informatics, studies at Harvard Medical School - Bioethics. Trained in over 10 medical specialties in medical billing and coding. Trained by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and PTAB Judges on patent statutes, rules and case law (as a non-attorney to better advise clients on Technical and Damages aspects of patent construction and claims). Mr. Arrigo has been interviewed quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and National Public Radio, Fortune, KNX 1070 Radio, Kaiser Health News, NBC Television News, The Capitol Forum and other media outlets. See https://www.noworldborders.com/news/ and https://www.noworldborders.com/clients/ for more about the company.

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