The Keys to Unlocking Your Client’s Castle
Making noise about product capabilities alone will not convince or produce added business value. Instead you must roll up your sleeves and do your homework about your customer’s business operation.
This month I shall endeavor to brighten up your cold winter doldrums by taking a festive and interactive, multimedia approach to this column. So fire up your computer or smartphone and view this video clip. Watch it at least twice. Fair warning; it features Monty Python.
While British humor may escape you, the points I will hopefully make will not. For you Python fans out there, you are likely already familiar with this scene from the classic “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where King Arthur gets caught up in a debate about the migration of swallows while trying to gain access to a castle.
How is this relevant? Because building added operational business value around integrated security solutions often seems like the search for the Holy Grail. Enlisting help in seeking the Grail can be challenging. It seems everybody is too busy guarding their castles. It will continue to be difficult when we approach opportunities the same way each and every time.
Knock on lots of castle doors and the conversations may result in a response like the one King Arthur had. The bottom line is you don’t always have to storm the castle walls or banter with gatekeepers over logic, justifications and value. There is a better approach and it starts with changing your perspective.
Don’t Bring the Noise
Consider for a moment the classical marketing hype vs. operational performance dilemma so well portrayed in the video clip when King Arthur “rides” up (on foot) to the castle to seek recruits for his Holy Grail quest with his trusty sidekick, Patsy, deftly using coconuts to mimic the sounds of galloping horse hooves. It sounds great at a distance, but up close does it work in reality?
That depends on your perspective of looking up a castle wall at your customer or down at someone who wants to get inside your castle. Rethink how you can build your credibility with new and most importantly existing customers to help them lower their drawbridges and invite you in.
Making noise about product capabilities alone, no matter how enthusiastic, will not convince or produce added business value. It may even make it more difficult for sales teams to build operational business value. A technical or specification approach alone may create artificial moats around the castle you seek. It’s human nature to be a little skeptical when standing guard on the castle wall, but it’s darn prudent when it comes to managing your budgets and career.
Instead of banging coconuts together, you must roll up your sleeves and do your homework about your customer’s business operation. Business value is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps an example would help our quest.
Learn Clients’ Business Inside/Out
I will use the “quick serve” restaurant segment as an example. I have a fair amount of experience working with security professionals in that market. Some of the best are innovative, intelligent, don’t pull punches, are business savvy, and hate coconuts! They include Gene James of Food Makers and Christopher Manning of Wendy’s.
They taught me how to look at their business differently and from their unique business perspectives. I listened and learned. What do you need to do to understand the operational issues your customers face, so you can help create operational and security value? Step back and find the relevant operational and security issues that are indigenous to the markets you serve.
Unlike the coconuts King Arthur used to simulate credibility, you must earn it from credible mentors. Characteristics that describe the business profile and operational needs of the quick serve market include: multilocation, small footprint, high volume, food safety, brand protection, well developed delivery processes, high cash transaction rates and very tough competition. They must be operationally (business) solid and profitable (security) to survive.
Let’s say you are a regional security or operational manager for one of these chains; you have many challenges, and pure logistics is certainly one of them. When you are responsible for 30-40 locations, you have distance, time, investigations and travel that can impact your operational performance. As a smart systems integrator, your challenge is to optimize these factors.
While these factors vary based on needs, schedules and events, they are a metric that can be measured or quantified in ranges of numbers. Have a dialogue to create some baselines that any solution should seek to reduce, optimize, streamline or improve (think ROSI). This is a good start.
How to Offer True Tangible Value
Next, let’s talk about migrating video technology that, unlike coconuts, can be readily found in nearly every market segment today. There is virtually no limit to the different video migration paths we can select. What is interesting is the quick serve segment was underserved from several perspectives by the video security industry for years.
The reasons for this become apparent when we consider some of the business drivers faced by quick serve companies: price efficient buying; standardization of process; employee turnover rate and training; cash handling business; operational performance per store; and dynamic operational environment for installation and service. With the options being the cheapest commodity DVR, expensive complex NVR or more recently video surveillance as a service (VSaaS), guess which won out most of the time? The choice when budgets were impacted was clear.
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