Having a working security system to show prospects can alleviate preconceived ideas about security,

If there was a sales tool that could distinguish you from the competition, boost your sales and increase the perceived value of an alarm system, would you be interested?

If you said, “Don’t tell me, show me,” you’d be in good company. Most of your potential customers feel the same way. That’s why Mike Connor of Lenhart Security in Leesburg, Fla., says, “If you have an alarm company, and you don’t have demo kits for your sales force, you’re missing the boat.”

Demo units have been around since the beginning of the industry and most manufacturers provide demos for some, if not all, of their products. In the past, a demo unit meant a big, flat, heavy case and was as dealer unfriendly as it could get. Fortunately, that has changed. Today, many demo units are made with the dealer in mind. They are small, lightweight, attractive and easy to use.

Demo units are supplied by manufacturers to help dealers sell their products. Having a working system to show prospects can alleviate preconceived ideas about security, including fears about the difficulty of operation, distinguish your products from competitors’, and even allow salespersons to become more familiar with the products they’re selling. One manufacturer has created a demonstration center where dealers can meet prospects and demonstrate every product in the manufacturer’s line if need be.

Whether a dealer brings the demo to a customer or brings the customer to the demo, both profit from showing off a working system.

1. Seeing Is Believing; Believing Is Buying

Describing system capabilities to someone who doesn’t know the first thing about security is much harder and less powerful than simply showing the functions. With a demo, a dealer doesn’t have to paint a visual picture.

The salesperson can set up a piece of equipment, let a customer see what it looks like, and demonstrate how it would work in their home.

ITI, for example, offers its CareTaker Plus security system and Interrogator two-way voice alarm verification module to help salespeople increase the impact of sales presentations.

Shelly Prater-Remy, president and owner of Southern Oregon Alarms in Roseburg, Ore., won’t leave the office without an ITI demo. “It’s just not an in-home presentation as far as I’m concerned without the kit. People get excited when they see exactly how it would look in their home, how it would work, and how it would protect them,” she says.

2. Distinguish Your Company From Competition

One dealer walks in with a demo unit, and provides an entertaining and informative presentation. Another dealer walks in by himself with sales literature. The demo unit is going to look impressive. A demo unit and literature that you can leave behind will definitely make a lasting impression!

“The first thing we do when we go into a new market is check out the competition,” says David Byars, owner and general manager of 24/7 Security in Orlando, Fla. “When we opened in the Orlando market, I saw 14 keypads and no demos. I saw 10 salespeople with no keypads.”

That tells Byars the use of a demo unit may just give him an edge over the competition.

3. Develop a Well-Trained Sales Force

A demo unit in the hands of someone who is untrained is probably worse than not having a demo. If salespeople don’t know their product and its capabilities, it’s difficult for them to be convincing, let alone make the sale. So, when you get the demo unit, go over the features with your sales staff, even if they’ve been selling the same product for several years.

“The reason I believe most dealers don’t use demos is that it requires you to train your people,” says Byars. “We know when our salespeople are showing features, because they sell them when they show them. Bring in your guys that have a low install revenue and have them do a demo for you.”

Byars has guys in the field who have sold DSC products for years, yet when given a demo kit, many were surprised at its capabilities. “They weren’t forced to use the system and all the features,” he says.

Richard Hahn serves the security industry as a marketing specialist for Richard Hahn & Associates in Olean, N.Y.

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