New Entrants Are Coming in Without a Clue, Exiting Without a Trace
Believe it or not, my recent trip to Las Vegas for ISC West reminded me of a journey I took several years ago to Israel, and not just because both are desert destinations. Allow me to explain …
In a scene that made me feel as if I had walked onto the set of “Casablanca,” I visited Jerusalem’s local marketplace, where street vendors hawked all kinds of handmade crafts in little alleyways. As I examined their wares, I noticed most had hundreds of similar products. The merchants would say, “It’s 24K gold, trust me” or “It’s hand-carved from genuine olive wood trees.” Although I was skeptical, I ended up buying some inexpensive items.
For those of you who roamed the aisles of ISC West, I am sure you have already made the connection. It never ceases to amaze me how hundreds of new, unknown manufacturers continue to exhibit similar security products, especially in the CCTV arena. Although many of these companies have exciting technology not offered by the big guys, they will usually end up keeping the secret all to themselves. Many great products fail in the marketplace, and the biggest culprit is poor implementation.
On the show floor, when an installing dealer/integrator walks up to one of the unknown company booths, it typically goes along the following lines:
Instantly, the salesman starts his pitch and recites a long list of product features. Never mind that he failed to qualify the dealer or probe him to find out what he personally likes or dislikes about a similar product he may currently be using. Meanwhile, during the presentation, the dealer is thinking, “Hmm … who is this company? Where did it come from? Is it going to be around next year? Will my head be on the chopping block if this equipment fails and I can’t get adequate support?”
Afterward, the salesman will say something like, “Would you like to try one of these? The dealer’s response is usually, “Why don’t you give me your business card and some literature? On my next job, I’ll see if we can try one of these out.” This may make the salesman happy, but a sale is seldom made. Note that not one of the dealer’s questions was about the equipment’s features. Why? Because nobody wants to take the risk of purchasing an unknown, unproven product, let alone one from a company they never heard of – no matter what feature set it offers.
Many new manufacturers don’t fully understand the mentality of the installing dealer/integrator (you, our reader). To their detriment, they have no idea about the problems you face in the field; they cannot describe what you do on a daily basis.
I suspect you have been nodding your head while reading this because the scenario is all too familiar. Consequently, I predict that 80 percent of these new companies will not be around for the next ISC West. However, there’ll be another 200 stepping in to take their place.
In the interest of easing this predicament, I am offering the following four tips for new manufacturers. Hopefully, this will find its way into enough of their hands to make a difference, which will make business better for all of us.
1. Balance product engineering with sales and marketing. You can have the best-engineered, feature-rich product, but without proper sales and marketing plans, you’re doomed. By the same token, you can finagle your way into a sale, but the product must stand on its own for repeat business. I’m amazed at how many manufacturers have no budgets earmarked for sales and marketing!
2. Build your brand name, not a specific product. Otherwise, sooner or later, one of the big guys will leap-frog you in technology and then you’ll end up holding the bag with yesterday’s feature set.
3. Hire people with industry experience. You must have people who know the ins and outs about creating relationships with wholesale distributors and/or with installing dealers/integrators.
4. “End users will specify and demand my product.” This is a common manufacturer misconception. The installing systems integrator has the final word on what brand will be used.
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