Notebooks come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes as manufacturers cater to the wide range of mobile needs presented by different user groups. This can make finding the right model for any particular customer and maximizing the sales opportunity a difficult task. HP personal systems group program manager, Robert Bergqvist, provides a guide to making the right sale.
1. Ask. And remember to listen to their response!
One of the first things we do when a customer is interested in purchasing notebooks is to ask them what they're after. But something we can forget to do is really listen to their answer. They may have a pre-conceived idea of what they want based on price, a promotion or word-of-mouth, but the more questions you can ask them about how they use their current PC and how they're planning to use their notebook, the easier it will be to help guide their decision to purchase. If you can establish whether they're after a notebook that's ultra-light, delivers high performance or a balance between mobility and performance, then not only will it be easy to recommend the right model, you can show them a range of accessories, support and service options that will make sense for them to purchase.
2. What's their occupation?
Your customer's occupation can be a big driver in choosing the right notebook. If they work in finance, they'll value a notebook with a numeric keyboard built in - most notebooks don't have these and it's a common complaint for the numbers guys who are used to filling in spreadsheets using the number pad. Those who work in graphic design, architecture or engineering are going to be using some power-hungry software packages, so they'll be after a mobile workstation that's been certified for reliable use when using demanding applications. At the other end of the spectrum, you might have a student who will be using their notebook at home, in a lecture hall or at the library. They will want the lightest they can use, and will only need basic applications.
3. Do they need a keyboard and mouse?
Unless your customer has gone down the high performance path, and ended up with a model that has a full-sized keyboard, one of the most popular notebook accessories is a keyboard and mouse. Unlike desktops, these aren't part of the package but they are very handy for periods of extended use.
4. Are they a road warrior?
While more and more people are using their notebooks predominantly in the office, there are still a high number who want a notebook they can use on the road. Presumably you'll help them pick the lightest model available that still gives the grunt they need. There are a number of accessories that will help a road warrior get more from their notebook, most importantly battery power as no one wants to lose power to their notebook in the middle of a meeting or while using that valuable spare time in transit. There are a number of long-life travel batteries that can be easily attached to notebooks to give up to 15 hours battery life and with fast charge technology, they can recharge much faster too. A car charger is another really popular option for those on the road.
5. Will they be making their notebook a desktop replacement?
If your customer is planning to use their notebook as a desktop replacement, there are a number of accessories that will help them maximise their productivity in the office. A docking station will allow them to connect easily to a range of devices such as their monitor, keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, USB and other peripherals without the hassle of fiddling with cords. Notebooks were initially for short-term and mobile use, but when using them as their primary computer users should ensure that their notebook is set up ergonomically when working for long periods of time to prevent muscle soreness and injury. An adjustable notebook stand brings the notebook to eye level to reduce muscle fatigue and is by far the most time efficient method when combining mobility with ergonomics.
6. Looking for ways to deal with information overload?
Having a second monitor is a great way for customers that have a fast-moving, hectic job to better manage the high level of information that they're dealing with. Whether a second monitor is used to host email, compare data between spreadsheets or to edit word documents, studies have shown that increasing monitor space can make it easier for users to complete tasks so why not show your customers a few options?
7. Have they thought about what's inside the notebook and how that relates to their needs?
Your customer may not understand what terms like processor type and speed, hard drive and disk memory actually mean. So it's up to us to translate these into their language and show how they'll address their needs. While their usage of the notebook for work may only require a basic suite of applications, their away from work use may differ. If they're going to be storing music and photos or using their notebooks to watch DVDs then this could make a difference to the specs of the machine you sell them.
Make sure your customer understands the importance of security when buying their notebook - not just the notebook itself, but the information stored on it. Different models offer varying data security options such as biometric fingerprint readers or drive encryption, as well as ways to protect the hard drive from unauthorized access or damage, and even wipe the data from the hard drive for units being recycled or inherited by another staff member. A Kensington lock is a great add-on for customers concerned about the safety of their notebook.
9. After-sales care
When your customer has decided on the model and accessories, it's essential that you discuss the type of support they're going to require. Everybody's needs are different so look for a manufacturer that will allow them to customise level of service to suit their needs. Options vary between online, phone and in person assistance and they can choose how quickly problems need to be resolved. They may even require online training so they can learn to set up their notebooks to get maximum productivity, or use different software packages. Warranty extensions are another popular choice.
10. Trading in old notebooks for recycling
If your customer is buying a notebook to replace an older model, take them through the recycling programs available. A trade-in program can result in your customer receiving cash back from their new purchase and in return the manufacturer will collect their old notebook, so they can re-use and recycle various components of the unit, while safely disposing of everything else.