Addressing Switching Forces in Toolkit Buying

January 24, 2012 Lou Franco

Bob Moesta from The Rewired Group has a framework for thinking about how customers change which product/service they are using to get a job done:

  • Force 1: Push of the situation – something is happening that is making the customer think about switching
  • Force 2: Pull of the new solution – all of the benefits that the new solution appears to offer
  • Force 3: Allegiance to the current behavior – the comfort and understanding of the current solution
  • Force 4: Anxiety of the new solution – the risk in changing

Bob’s theory is that you need to make F1 + F2 > F3 + F4. To do this, you must know what the old behavior is, what the forces are for that behavior, and then figure out what you can do to address them (increase F1 and F2, and decrease F3 and F4)

I will analyze a specific case in my market (developer toolkits) to show you how to use the framework.


The customer is an ISV with a product that could be enhanced with a toolkit.

The product does not have the features that the toolkit enables.

They are currently a non-consumer of any product or service that gets this job done for their customers. Their customers that do the job do so by combining their product with other products to form the full solution.

F1: What situation are they in that is making them consider a change in behavior?

  • Customers asking for features.
  • Sales loss analysis is showing prospects wanted the features.
  • Competitors may already have these features.

A toolkit vendor could increase this force by

  • Creating educational pieces about the benefits of features and direct them to ISV customers
  • Finding ISV’s without features and send testimonials
  • Highlight the accomplishments of customers

F2: What is enticing them to action?

  • They could make more revenue with maintenance or by finding new customers or markets
  • They would not have to learn the details of implementing the feature, but could just incorporate it
  • They could get to market faster because using a toolkit is faster than implementing one

A toolkit vendor could increase this force by

  • Publicizing the market size and opportunity in the businesses of its customers
  • Polling its customers’ market on feature requirements and planned uptake time

F3: What situations are causing them not to act?

  • Already have a planned roadmap with consequences to changing it
  • They think that the current modular approach (customers combine products) is better

A toolkit vendor could decrease this force by

  • Showing how the modular approach isn’t good enough for important use-cases
  • Offering professional services or development partners

F4: What is making them anxious about buying a toolkit?

  • Cost
  • Available development capacity
  • Not trusting the customer’s support or viability
  • Analysis paralysis (too many choices)

A toolkit vendor could decrease this force by

  • Having pricing models that line up with revenue models
  • Offering training and professional services to speed development
  • Supporting them through evaluation processes
  • Having Money-back guarantees
  • Proposing buying guides to use to evaluate choices
  • Showcasing testimonials

This is just a quick analysis – much more can be done through customer interviews and by preparing responses and trying them on sales calls.  Also, doing this is a good way to build up a content creation strategy that can be used in nurturing campaigns, whitepapers, on your site, brochures, etc.

Another thing to realize is that these forces act differently at different points in the buying cycle.  Sales loss analysis is probably a very early driver to start to contemplate change – having too many choices is a later force. During customer interviews, you may want to map out how these forces relate to time and buying milestones.

About the Author

Lou Franco

Lou is the former Vice President of Product Development at Atalasoft.

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