5 Steps to Whip the Bigger Security Competitors
Here are tips to help independent electronic security installers win sales in the residential security space.
By Russ Ackerman
Competition in the alarm industry is as fierce as it has ever been. Huge companies with big bucks are dumping vast amounts of money into markets all across the United States. They are spending millions on advertising campaigns and equipping themselves with “cool” and innovative products. The home automation concept is sweeping the nation and it seems that new players are jumping on the bandwagon every week or so.
We are hearing about companies that heretofore never sold anything for the home, yet are now developing sales and marketing strategies to penetrate the residential community. Some of these national companies are hiring trainers and salespeople from within the alarm industry to provide the sales expertise they need.
For independent companies that do not have the large advertising budgets or the advantage of a nationally known brand, things might seem a little scary, to say the least. The good news is the independent, smaller companies can beat these “big boys” at their own game. In a head-to-head competition the smaller companies should be able to win the sale the majority of the time.
Indy Dealers Can Win Vs. Larger Telecos and Cablecoms
In every sales market it’s often said we eventually all get our “piece of the pie.” Well, because of all the advertising these national companies are doing consumer awareness is much greater and the marketing pie is indeed getting bigger.
Homeowners who never considered procuring a security system before are now aware they can benefit from other lifestyle enhancement products and services. These consumers are interested in cameras, thermostats, door locks, interactive data and other value-add features for their home their local alarm company can provide.
There are several important strategies independent dealers must consider to make the sale in this highly competitive environment. Following are five simple concepts to deliberate and apply within your organization.
1. Don’t run away from or ignore the new technology. Older, traditional-minded companies must not only embrace this new technology, they must master it. Become the local expert on all the new products and services. If you stay focused on what is coming down the pipeline you will likely be able to take it to market faster than the national companies.
Traditionally, the smaller, independent alarm companies can move faster and out run the large national groups. Take advantage of their lack of experience, intensity and speed.
2. Take a fresh look at your service and installation department. Many of the large telecom and cable providers have a terrible reputation for service. Here are a few questions you will want to ask yourself about your service and installation department.
* How do we answer the telephone? Try calling a few of telco and cablecoms and listen to their voice mail system. You do not want to sound like them. What if you actually had an actual human being answer your telephones every time? Do you think that might make a better impression?
* What if you ran service calls as late as 7 or 8 p.m. Is it possible to work out the service schedule so a few technicians check in later in the morning and work later in the evening? You can bet the local cable TV provider will not do the same. Again, you can win here every time.
* What if you ran service calls and conducted installations on Saturday?
* What if your service department was so organized you could run same-day service calls to anyone that called in for service before noon?
3. Independent dealers must have competitive pricing. You certainly do not have to be the cheapest company but your prospect must be able to see the value of doing business with you as opposed to the other companies.
One big handicap that some of these larger companies have is, in order to purchase their home automation package or even a basic security system, customers must sign up for other products and services they may or may not need. Bundling is not always a good thing. Study the competitions’ offers carefully and you will usually see the loopholes in their package deals.
Another issue that most of the larger companies have to deal with is the cost of doing business. Smaller, independent companies should be able to compete for much less. Take advantage of the fact you have much less overhead. You must know that no legitimate company can beat your offer.
4. Identify a special niche for your organization. This entails something unique that your prospect can only get from your company. What do you have that the competition does not market? Here are a few suggestions:
* Use a well-known product line such as Honeywell or First Alert. You might not be a nationally known company but that does not mean you cannot look big. Try to sell a product that has name brand recognition and then brag about it. It will improve your image.
* Have a more professional sales team. What if your sales consultants were the best dressed and made a better first impression on your prospects? What if your sales professionals were the friendliest and most likeable? Remember this fact: Prospects buy from individuals, not companies! They will usually elect to buy from the salesperson they like best, not necessarily from the least expensive provider.
* Have a more dynamic sales presentation. Make sure that your in-home sales presentation is exciting and that your prospect is involved in the presentation and is not just a spectator.
* Your salespeople should be the best trained sales consultants in town. When it comes to closing the sale, your reps won’t take no for an answer. They have studied and understand how to deal with any objection that might come up.
5. Your sales team must be highly motivated. Before every college and professional football game someone performs the Star Spangled Banner. After the anthem, many times there is fly over of jet planes or a fireworks display. Everyone in the stadium is excited and highly motivated.
At that point in time if you asked any player on either sideline if they were going to win the game, they would immediately give you a positive response and could even tell you how and why they were going to win. Your sales professionals need to have that same enthusiasm and positive motivation. When they line up against the competition they should have no fear. They need to know they can and will win the sale.
Competition in many ways is good for us. It is often a wake-up call that we have become lackadaisical and too comfortable. Many times it puts us in a position where we are forced to improve.
It’s time to get our “A game” on and get to work. These large companies are spending a lot of money on advertising that we can leverage to our advantage. All we have to do is turn up the intensity within our own organizations.</ p>
Russ Ackerman is District Sales Director for Vector Security in Jacksonville, Fla.
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