Still lugging around a slow, heavy laptop with the battery life of a Club biscuit? So desperate for an upgrade you’d be willing to sell one of your children? It needn’t come to that. We’ve put together eleven winning steps to get you the laptop you deserve.
1. Convince the right person
The biggest mistake people make is convincing the wrong person that they need a new laptop. It’s all very well spending six weeks nagging your boss, but if they send a one-line email to the IT budget holder asking, pretty please, for you to get so-and-so model, it’s far too easy for them to say no. And there goes your chance for another financial year.
2. Choose the right time
Which brings us to step two. If you ask when sales are faltering, or at the end of the budget year when every penny has already been allocated, your chances of holding the premium laptop we both know you deserve is sunk before you even try.
3. So do your research
That’s why you need to do your research. Your boss is your most likely ally: probe him or her to find out when the budgets are submitted and who actually makes the decision. If it’s them, or there’s simply no chance of you getting closer to that person, then so be it: use the arguments below on your boss. Either way, the rest of the steps here are dedicated to you wielding wicked powers of psychology and argument to win the person in power over.
4. Get them on your side
Whoever makes the decision, you need them on your side. There’s one unusual approach, recommended in the excellent book Yes!: 50 Secrets From the Science of Persuasion, that may be your best way in: ask them for a favour that will put them a little out of their way, but not so much they’re likely to say no.
One famous example of this was Benjamin Franklin, who, as a young legislator, kept locking horns with a senior colleague. All that changed after Franklin asked to borrow a precious book; his opponent agreed, and they soon started working together (and actually became staunch friends).
So, if you’re struggling to make those first inroads, ask yourself: what small favour could you ask that would make them an ally rather than a foe?
5. Make them just a little afraid…
Fear is a huge motivator, and if there’s a button you can press that will make them think that they’re putting business at risk if they don’t order you that laptop… then go ahead and press it. Perhaps it’s reputational. By walking into next week’s presentation with this old laptop, you say, pointing to the battered object under your arm, then I’m going to be at an immediate disadvantage compared to our rivals.
6. Talk about money #1: No upfront cost
Depending on the size of your organisation, it may be worth bringing subscription-based methods of buying into the conversation. Just as businesses lease real estate, software and services, so they can now lease laptops. By avoiding an upfront cost, you might just get them to change their mind (or even move the purchase into a separate part of the budget), especially if you then start talking about the hidden cost of old hardware. Which brings us neatly to point 7.
7. Talk about money #2: Old hardware
Study after study shows the false economy of stretching hardware beyond its useful life. It becomes less reliable, leading to hidden costs of more downtime and more disruption, not to mention repair parts and labour costs. While printing out a Gartner report on the hidden costs of old hardware and leaving it on the printer in the hope your target will pick it up probably won’t work, mentioning how you couldn’t do Task A, and thus jeopardising Contract B with valuable Client C, might just do the trick.
8. Throw a grenade
Not a real grenade; that rarely ends in success. We’re talking about moving your target’s focus away from your current laptop, which they may consider to be “fine”, and instead focusing their attention on something so outrageously expensive – “I want the gold-plated, super-stealth laptop designed by NASA” – that it will make the real object of your desire look much more sensible.
9. Always come back to fear (and insecurity)
Chances are that your laptop contains data that your business doesn’t want to go missing. Well, older laptops are more vulnerable to attack than ever, so why would your company send you out with old defences? If you can point to a laptop that has extra security measures built in – think fingerprint sensors, optional smart card readers, smart BIOSes that protect you from attack – then you’re halfway to winning the argument.
10. Convince them that this will make a genuine difference
If this were a court case, here’s where we’d be addressing the jury. After days and possibly weeks of laying the groundwork, you may only have one chance to convince your audience that this new laptop will make a difference. Be prepared and do your homework.
Here are some starters for ten:
- “I need a laptop that can last away from a power supply all day if I’m going to succeed at the pitch/complete the project on time/insert your own reason here.”
- “Lots of my recent pitches have been on a video call, and I know my current laptop’s rubbish camera and audio is making me look unprofessional.”
- “My current laptop takes almost five minutes to wake up from sleep – I need to get work done there and then if we’re going to get business with new clients.”
- “Just look at the support costs of the current laptops – it doesn’t make financial sense to stick with them.”
- “I lost a day’s work last month because of a problem with the hard drive, never mind the lost time.”
11. Show them the HP EliteBook Folio
It’s all very well putting fear up your target: you need to give them a simple solution so they can get something done. Well, here’s one: the HP EliteBook Folio. Not only does it look rather beautiful, it also starts at a tempting price. And if you start off asking for the top-end spec (see our point about throwing grenades earlier) then you might just get exactly what you really want.