A long list of EOL software upgrade opportunities makes the 2016 business outlook an interesting one for IT solution providers. Three Microsoft OS platforms—Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP—remain in wide deployment long past their well-publicized EOL dates, as does Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.
With all these EOL platforms moldering across the IT landscape, it might seem like a bonanza for MSPs looking to sell software, migration services, and more strategic services. Then again, maybe businesses keeping these aging, leaky platforms on artificial life-support need something different. Could it be that what they really need is a bit of counseling?
The limits of logic and reason
Why counseling? Because organizations that have resisted repeated calls to upgrade are clearly unmoved by all the usual rationales: security risks, costly service, outdated functionality, incompatibility with newer systems, etc.
This community’s heard all the counterarguments, too. They’re wedded to that boutique application running on Exchange 2003, unmoved by your arguments that “the cost of doing nothing” — the malware threats, inefficiency, and opportunity costs — exceeds the cost of migration.
A Spiceworks survey ranked the leading reasons that IT pros offer for holding onto their Windows Server 2003 deployments. Here are the top six:
- No immediate need/System is still working
- Lack of time
- Budget constraints
- Compatibility with current software/apps
- Considering new IT infrastructure approach
- Compatibility with current hardware
These are poor excuses for continued reliance on EOL software, but there’s a pattern here. These issues boil down to three familiar psychological themes:
- Time issues
- Money anxieties
- Fear of commitment
“Shrink” your prospects
Don’t stop talking to your customers and prospects about the migration opportunity. Just try to delve more deeply into your customers’ inner thoughts.
Start with the three high-running themes identified above. Are you working with an individual with deep-seated issues about time, money, or commitment? Or possibly some combination of two or even three of these at once?
Once you think you’ve tapped into the root of your prospect’s discomfort, use that as a starting point. Make sure they see that you’re on their side with regard to money, time, or commitment issues, and that it’s OK to have strong feelings about these issues.
Try following this basic approach:
- Focus more on listening than on speaking
- Validate your prospects’ ideas and feelings (even if you disagree with them)
- Avoid expressing pity or sympathy
- Remind your prospects that they can contact you at any time
These four techniques will instill in your prospects a trust that you will listen without judging them.
Most importantly, don’t expect change to happen overnight. The plain truth is that some customers may never come around to migration. But there’s another advantage to appealing to your prospects’ deep-seated anxieties: unlocking them might create other opportunities—completely unrelated to EOL software—for you to help them get the most out of their IT.