I am going to talk about the elephant in the IP video living room, and no it’s not bandwidth. It’s much more challenging. It moves slowly like an elephant. It can act irrational if it is suddenly surprised, like an elephant. It’s called change. All of the logic, technology and operational benefits of IP megapixel video go right out the window when you have to overcome our natural resistance to change.
The basics of selling IP video solutions are really about understanding how change works. This includes changes in customers’ needs, in your abilities to sell more complex solutions and the resistance, yours and the customer’s, to newer IP technologies.
The smaller elephant in the room is usually the budget issue. Budgets, like elephants, need to be treated with respect. You also need to have a plan. If you don’t have a plan bad things can happen, such as your customer needs to replace a broken DVR tomorrow. Good luck laying out all the benefits of IP migration or HD hybrid recorders in that compressed timeframe. The lack of budget bandwidth will make that decision for both of you. So how can you make change work for instead of against you in selling IP video solutions anyway? We’ll figure it out together.
Change Explained as a Formula
Let’s try to understand the nature of change a little more clearly. In 1969, David Gleisher and Richard Beckhard developed Gleicher’s Formula to help explain why we resist change. They provided some very helpful guidelines on how we can influence change in a positive way.
Gleicher’s formula states that change will occur if: D x V x F > R
D = Dissatisfaction with video quality, quantity, availability or consistent delivery. IP video, as well as managed and hosted services, offers new choices that support IP video migration.
V = Vision of what is possible (video used differently to support the business). To follow a successful IP video sales process, you must help paint a graphic picture for your customer’s different departments of how video data is both a business and security service before they can “see” the vision.
F = First concrete steps that can be taken toward the vision is, in Woody Allen’s words, to just show up. If you don’t make the effort to care about your video service customers, somebody else just might. It’s rather strange but understandable that your customers, who bought a nonrecurring revenue, no maintenance agreement and “quiet” service like CCTV, might fall off your radar screen.
R = Resistance ... is diminished and a customer will be prepared to buy IP video services from you and not your competitor when the time is right. The right time might be a lot sooner than either of you think!
6 Steps for Selling IP Video
Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu (604-531 BC) said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Here are six practical steps to get you started on your IP selling journey:
- Make a conscious decision to be proactive and dedicate some company resources that will make selling IP video a strategy and a priority. Remember that competitor?
- Dig into your databases or file folders and identify all your existing video system customers. It’s time to prioritize and focus your sales efforts to grow your business. Selling upgrades to existing customers should provide an additional revenue stream of 10-15%.
- Identify and prioritize contracts more than three years old that use DVR technology. Next, sort those customers into a priority ranking of A, B or C based on the size of their systems, including the number of cameras and DVRs installed. See all A accounts in the next 60 days, then the B accounts, etc.
- Map customer locations using pen and paper and mount it where everyone can see it in your office. I like visual reminders, don’t you?
- Hold your sales team accountable by making a commitment to visit these accounts in the next six months.
- Establish the leadership vision and mission statement so that 75% of your customers will be informed and armed with a budgetary alternative to an OMG (oh, my God) DVR decision. “We will not allow our competitors to beat us to the punch.”
These steps will help you carve the elephant into MREs (meals ready to eat) that your sales team can manage. I believe we have hit a plateau in the IP video market that will require a bit of retooling of your sales strategies and digging in deeper with your customers. The culprit is the lack of migration planning by both end users and, yes, the sales forces of systems integrators that serve their needs. I am not wagging a finger of blame at you ... well, maybe a little bit!
Analog Migration Strategies
I would guess the reason analog video continues to remain strong is the fact that when an existing customer’s DVR unexpectedly fails, the kneejerk reaction is to replace it with a similar DVR solution as quickly as possible. The general tolerance for “the video system is down” has rapidly shrunk the past five years.
To make matters worse, the failure was unexpected. That may mean an unanticipated expense. Having tight budgets will apply additional pressure to minimize any financial impact, which in turn means the lowest cost DVR may be chosen. When you are in the reactive mode you may miss an opportunity to migrate your systems to the right choice for the future.
In fact, IP video is typically preferred with a significant market share of “green field” installations. The larger the installation, the more often IP video technology is specified. The reason is simple: planning, design and appropriate budget allocation.
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