As we all know, corporations compete by delivering customer value, which they can influence at three stages of a product’s life. Some businesses focus on the design phase, which determines a product’s raw materials, capabilities, and performance. (In fact, 80% of a product’s costs are determined when it is designed.) Most businesses compete in the next phase, production. Because a majority of businesses adopt the same standards in manufacturing, it’s difficult for them to distinguish themselves at this stage. The final stage is customer support, which spans the longest part of a product’s life. Although few executives realize it, after-sales support is the longest-lasting source of revenues to sellers and requires the smallest investment. Companies that ignore the aftermarket do so at their peril.