Fear-Selling Methodology [...]

Computer consultants want to help you do better and they may be sincere in what they promise but they might be fooling you and themselves when fear seals the deal.

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Ward Cunningham describes where he has seen this in the industry:

I’m reminded of the time as a child when my father came home and told of an ex-convict dropping by his business selling check embosser. The man had been sent up for check fraud. Now he applied his skill before my father’s own eyes with my father’s own check. Wow, did you buy a check embosser? I asked. No, my father explained, he would never buy a product that addressed a fear that the salesman had just created.

I know software methodology. I created programming methods myself, out of self-defense. I had been successful programming. I just explained what I did so that I could keep doing it. But soon I was charging money for the explanations and business was good.

My consulting business made sense to me. I knew a better way to make software. People wanted a better way. The market brought us together. I made a living.

I even spoke about fear and building safety nets in our projects to catch us when things go wrong. But my clients remained fearful. I rarely made them happy.

Hate-Selling our Students reminds me of fear-selling my methods. A/B tests show that people part with money faster if you make things worse and then promise to make them better for a fee. Think discount airline.

I eventually gave up the consulting business and took more normal jobs. I’ve had a few. Only recently have I had a position where the hire was made in confidence and not as a solution to some imagined problem I helped create. It feels good.

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