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” If your solar towers need service and support all the way from Israel- no bloody chance we want them in Australia!”

Sometimes you need a slap on the face all the way from Down Under, in order to show you how far you are [not just in miles] from having a product ready for market.

That’s what came out of the CEO’s mouth as I finished pitching our roll out strategy for getting our solar towers installed across the Australian outback. I mean after all, we have the technology, they have the sun and space-  so no worries… Well, not quite mate, not quite.

This veteran CEO that came to see us, has been installing power generation units all across the outback. From diesel generators in far flung cattle stations, to gas turbines powering the most remote copper mines. So he definitely knew a thing or two about keeping a customer running 24/7. And on the notion that our solar systems, installed by his Sydney-based crew, will be serviced over the phone & internet via our team of dedicated team of support engineers all the way from Israel, he had just one thing to say: “See mate, if Bruce the only mechanic out on the station, who takes care of the fridge holding the beers, the TV showing the cricket and the air conditioner [in that order], cannot figure out your solar towers- I DON’T WANT THEM HERE!.”

What a great way to tell an aspiring solar start up, that figuring out the technology is not everything that is required in getting a product ready to market. And the first smell of it NOT being a pure plug-and-play, will drive some customers completely off.

What does your customer REALLY want?
Here in Green Ground Zero [i.e. Israel] we are so consumed by pushing innovation as it’s the key driver that attracts foreign businessmen to come see our latest & greatest. Yet, while that is a prerequisite, the customer on the other hand is looking far beyond that. Don’t get me wrong, innovation is key and it most certainly is our true competitive advantage, but the customer is past that new gizmo, thinking in terms of QA, service & support, life cycle management and product liability.

It turns out that while I was busy selling Israel’s latest innovative solar towers, my Australian guest was actually looking for a reliable 24/7 power solution that works at the dead of summer at the end of the world- and that Bruce would be able to figure it out even after he loses the user manual.

Do we really make enough effort to understand our customer, or are we all too often focused on getting him to buy what we’ve just invented?

So this was a great visit from Down Under, with the highlight being a fresh supply of Vegemite for my crew 🙂

Tip– If you wanna get your hands on the latest Israeli technology, make sure you bring something nice for the boys out in the bush.

Solar dishes tracking the sun on a cattle station in outback Australia. Photo: dryasadingo, Flickr

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