I have written before about the importance of really getting to know your prospects and customers in order to fully meet their needs, build loyalty and forge long-term relationships, and it is a theme that permeates most everything this publication touches. This edict has only become more profound as economic and competitive forces have intensified, particularly for commercial business. There are many facets to this process and differentiation for your company is incumbent upon stressing it top-to-bottom in your organization.
The first step is identifying and communicating with an end user’s key influencers and decision-makers. In today’s marketplace — due to the migration of physical security onto enterprise net-works and ability for those systems to transcend security as operational management tools — those key end-user contacts have mushroomed beyond facility managers and security directors to also encompass IT managers and C-suite executive management. This requires security dealers and integrators gain familiarity with the typical concerns with which those roles must contend and become innately comfortable speaking those diverse languages.
Other essential steps that must be undertaken include becoming intimate with the client’s organizational culture, their primary objectives, unique challenges, pain points and budget. Then it’s about translating it all into a fully optimized solution that ideally tailors security technology to fulfill that customer’s specific parameters — and continuing to be there as needed for ongoing support. Of course, you have to have the right people and skillsets in place to be successful with this approach. But if executed properly and maintained vehemently, your company figures to earn a lifelong customer as a true and trusted, value-added partner.
Such relationships are practically impervious to competitive overtures and the lowest price game, which makes the monetary and time commitment an extremely wise investment for a security dealer’s or integrator’s business.
During my recent visit to the Columbus, Ohio, headquarters of freshly minted systems integrator Xentry Systems (see cover story on page 42), I knocked around these concepts with Vice President Andre Greco and Senior Director of Operations Mark Ring. These seasoned veterans have experienced the evolution firsthand and know what it takes to succeed today.
“IT is now involved in just about every conversation and meeting. We also try to build a relationship with that C-level person. In those types of conversations, it really needs to be about the business; their business, not our business,” Greco told me. “But the key is to have multiple relationships at multiple levels within the organization. From a horizontal perspective, it’s security, facilities, IT, human resources, purchasing. And then it’s the folks on the ground working with our systems, doing the programming, printing out badges for new employees, all the way up to the chief individuals that are really driving the overall business strategy. You have to have many very different conversations.”
Three leading themes that surfaced time and time again in my dialogue with Greco and his colleagues were striving to positively impact a customer’s business by reducing costs, lessening risk and achieving compliance. This entails crystal-clear communications across a range of specializations with the focus squarely on what’s in the client’s best interests.
Ring advocates soliciting feedback from all end-user personnel who are likely to interact with a system, thereby facilitating a comprehensive collaboration and superior outcome.
“Design and deployment ideas can come from different angles from people in different levels of an organization,” he said. “We know a lot of our competitors don’t go that deep, or have that kind of relationships with the customer. We always want to have that relationship instead of just coming in and looking at a box of goods. We want to look at their three- and five-year plan, and then function on a consultant level. It’s very much part of what this world is today.”