[AusNOG] IPv6: "Objections to sale"

Christopher Mclean cjm at ausoptic.com
Thu Mar 7 10:52:00 EST 2013

Hi Mark,

You managed to get most of the sales process correct. There is also a needs/benefit process as well. Sales are mostly done because of an emotion (Ego, butt covering etc) . Any salesperson who relies on price and lunch rather than benefit/solution selling is no saleperson at all. Ie:

Sales: Would you like to buy IPv6?
Customer: I already have IPv4!
Sales: But IPv6 will let you do all the same things IPv4 will and IPv4 is running out!
Customer: Oh ok just because you bought me lunch yesterday you have convinced me.

Just does not work that way right.

I expect this is what is NOT driving the IPv6 uptake. With things like Y2k you had an emotional "the world of IT will crumble" unless it was resolved. OEM's rushed to get Y2k compliant products onto the market as there was a distinct market out there and money to be made. With IPv6 there appears to be a huge yawn about the whole issue among those people that IT is just another tool they use. Yeah we will run out of IPv4 but I'm ok for the moment. No real emotion for people to make the decision to spend money = no OEM will divert resources to R&D to produce something that nobody really cares about =very slow changeover. There is nothing magical about capitalism. But it does have some very strict rules. If it's not going to MAKE me money I won't discuss it. Tell people that some of their systems will no longer function in 6 months without it and the OEM's will suddenly become interested as lots of people will need to change over. 


-----Original Message-----
From: ausnog-bounces at lists.ausnog.net [mailto:ausnog-bounces at lists.ausnog.net] On Behalf Of Mark Newton
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 7:52 PM
To: ausnog at lists.ausnog.net
Subject: [AusNOG] IPv6: "Objections to sale"

Sales people go through a series of stages to convince a customer to buy.

The first stage is to establish a rapport, so that the salesperson is seen as a trustworthy and credible voice.  Pretty much impossible to sell anything high-value if you can't do that.  So that's why salespeople have big expense accounts, spend a lot of time at expensive restaurants, invite customers to golf courses, and hand out promotional toys:  It's all about setting themselves up as your friend.

In the process of doing that, they gain enough info to move on to the second stage, which is to identify specific problems you have and products in their portfolio which could solve them.  Thus begins the pitch...

Even if the pitch is successful, and they've convinced you that they have a product that you ought to buy, you're not going to sign on the dotted line until you've been through the third stage, which is overcoming your "objections to sale."  

Perhaps you don't like the price; the salesperson will negotiate on that. Maybe there's a feature $competitor has which you like; the salesperson will either show you their equivalent features, or try to convince you that $competitor's feature is buggy or unnecessary.  Maybe you don't have budget the salesperson either comes back when you're working out next FY, or gives you an offer you can't refuse to induce you to buy immediately.It's an iterative process, where one by one the reasons you'd have for not spending money are worn down.

At the end you have an identified need, a product to fill it, no reason not to buy the product, and a natural human inclination to want to make your friend happy.
All the psychological boxes ticked, you make the sale.  The magic of capitalism.

The good salespeople execute the stages in parallel, but even then you can pick the progression if you're looking for it.  They're basically coin-operated humans, all running variants of the same software :-)

We're all going through something similar with IPv6.  The first stage is pretty straightforward, it was accommodated years ago by people like Geoff Huston banging the drum (it was his RIPE talk about IPv4 allocations increasing in geometric time instead of exponential time that got Internode into the game.  I think I still have the email message I sent to Simon about it sitting in my sent folder!)

The second stage is pretty straightforward too:  IPv4 disappearing.  Some of you don't believe it is disappearing half as quickly as everyone has made it out to be, but even those people would be dishonest if they didn't at least acknowledge the legitimacy of the case.  No IPv4 + availability of IPv6 = problem + solution.

So now we're up to stage 3:  Objections to sale.

Back in 2003, people said things like, "Router support is terrible and buggy." Then the router vendors basically fixed that one, and it's now next to impossible to buy business-oriented routing hardware that doesn't do reliable IPv6, and even some of the cheap consumer gear is doing it now too.  Tick the box, move on.

Back in 2005, there were policy objections: "I can't get PI space from my RIR,"
or, "This is stupid, am I seriously supposed to give 4 billion times more addresses than the entire IPv4 Internet to every Ethernet segment?"  The RIRs came to the party with that one, policies were changed, education was delivered.  Perhaps the
IPv6 Forum played a part here, but so did "buzz."

In 2007 it was, "I can't get IPv6 from my upstream."  Solved.  In almost any geography on the planet you can now buy native dual-stack transit from lots of suppliers.

In 2008 we had objections like, "My load balancers don't support it."  "My firewalls don't support it."  None of them were good reasons to do nothing at all, they were merely good reasons to leave the bits behind the firewalls and load balancers on IPv4.  Solved problem now, lots of options, if your vendor doesn't do what you need or tries to charge extra for v6 you can just tell them that you'll never buy another thing from them again for as long as your company lives unless they deliver, and make purchasing decisions appropriately thereafter.

In 2009 the big message was, "Can't do it, it's expensive."  Well, no.  It isn't.
It might be under a pretty small number of specific deployment modes, but experience shows there are plenty of other deployment modes where it doesn't need to be expensive at all, even for networks larger than yours. Totally optional problem, you get to choose whether or not it applies to you, if you think this is important just choose differently and get happy.  We've all known this for years, entire conferences have been held to emphasise it.

In 2010 it was, "I can't connect my eyeballs."  I like to think Internode played a none-too-small part in solving that one.  Vendor support is there, the features are available at both the BRAS end and the CPE end for anyone who wants them.  Done and dusted.

So let's look at where we are today:

One by one, reasons for not doing IPv6 have been knocked down.  The original reasons for doing it still exist.  They're actually worse now because APNIC has run out and new addresses are expensive on the open market.  All the predictions are coming true.

But there are still objections to sale.

The difference between the previous objections and the current ones, though is the triviality of the latter.

We're actually down to, "I'm not doing IPv6 because I can't make the phones work without IPv4."

Seriously?  Is that it?

We geeks like to see technical solutions to problems, and that's the way we've approached this so far.  Each technical objection to sale has been beaten to death by technical hammers, the state of play is so much better than it was ten years ago that it's not funny.  Anyone who patiently explained why they weren't proceeding in
2003 has certainly had every single last one of their issues dealt with in the intervening decade.

But we geeks are also sometimes blind to non-technical issues, and I think I'm starting to see what's going on here.  I think there is actually a major non-technical reason holding back progress in this area:

You don't want to do it.

That's it.  It's that simple.  It explains why you aren't messing around with it at home like you did with Linux boxes in the late 1990's.  It explains why there's so much butthurt about the price of IPv4, given that you aren't visualizing a future when IPv4 is considered obsolete.  It explains why you so desperately want to believe that it's hard and expensive and mysterious and impossible, despite the availability of so many people who've actually done it and tell you the complete opposite.  It explains why someone like Don can say, "[complexity] is exactly the stuff that's driving SMB geeks away," even though a defining attribute of being a geek ever since Michelangelo dreamed of helicopters has been that they'll be energised and turned on my complexity.  It's why when the phones work on IPv6 you'll say you still can't deploy it because the MIT CoffeeCam is still on IPv4.
It's why it's 2013 and you haven't even deployed in in the lab. It's why Bevan will donate $50k on training, and at the end of it half of you will use your newfound expertise and insight to figure out new reasons to not do it[1].

You just don't want to do it.

Now, I'm not being judgmental about that choice.  It's as valid as any other.  We all place limitations in our lives around the things we want to get involved in and the things we don't, it's normal human behavior.

But I think we need to stop crapping on about technology and complexity, and perhaps be a bit honest about what's going on here.  The technical objections that are being raised are proxies for something more fundamental and psychological.
We can play whack-a-mole with them for as long as we like and it won't change the reason underlying all of it:  There are some people on this list who, to varying extents, have adopted v6 already, and there are others here who, consciously or otherwise, will try every trick in the book to avoid doing it.

We eat, sleep, live and breath complexity.  We use all manner of scripting languages, databases, network devices, operating systems, routing protocols, arcane stuff that the typical person in the street (or Whirlpool nick) can't ever hope to understand.  A lot of what we do doesn't work very well, and we apply effort towards making it work better.  Very few of us have ever used "The implementation sucks!" as a reason for not doing something that needed to be done.

We all earn our livelihoods from managing this complexity.

But not with IPv6.

Have any of you applied enough introspection to figure out why this particular piece of internet technology, among all others, is the one that you don't seen to want to touch?

  - mark

[1]  Thank you, Bevan -- the gesture is a worthy one regardless, even if only
     for the remaining half who will benefit from it.

AusNOG mailing list
AusNOG at lists.ausnog.net

More information about the AusNOG mailing list