Between Us Pros: Getting Customers to Drink Your Kool-Aid

The journey from longtime media member to marketing leader has been equal parts exciting, fascinating and frustrating.

Between Us Pros: Getting Customers to Drink Your Kool-Aid

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My journey from the security industry trade media world to being a key member of a systems integrator and monitoring provider these past several months has been — to say the least — an eye-opening experience.

The old adage “practice what you preach” comes to mind. After spending 25 years advising, guiding and making recommendations to owners and operators of professional installation firms and central stations, I am gaining, day by day, a better understanding of the real-world challenges, constraints and realities of implementation, execution and consistency.

The journey thus far has been equal parts exciting and fascinating. But, sometimes, it’s also quite frustrating. There are complexities, dynamics and variables at play that you can’t possibly fully grasp unless you are actually in, or have been in, the proverbial trenches.

To a large extent, I certainly realized that. It’s why I always strove to make sure that Security Sales & Integration brought readers the industry’s deepest well of in-the-field experience through its columnists, subject matter expert sources and Editorial Advisory Board members. That tradition continues today, and I am pleased to have recently been appointed to the SSI board.

The Most Enlightening Aspects of the Journey

One of the most enlightening aspects of my new role has been more closely interacting with commercial security end users in a sales and marketing capacity. That brings another adage to mind: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink!”

I have come to learn that, even if you legitimately have the customer’s best interests at heart — even if you grasp their needs and pain points; are totally transparent, honest, helpful and responsive; spell out the value proposition; justify the return on investment (ROI); and bring a market-leading, differentiated product or service that clearly represents their optimal solution—it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to engage your company.

Besides not winning that business and potentially having wasted your precious time and breath (along with that of others within your organization), you then have to demonstrate the seemingly superhuman restraint not to ask, “Are you an idiot?”

The conundrum of contending with prospective clients who seem to lack common sense can be compared to dealing with naïve, foolhardy children.

Regardless of how much impassioned wisdom you impart to them, drawing on your own firsthand experiences, they often turn a deaf ear. That means they must learn themselves by suffering the consequences of their ill-advised actions.

Nevertheless, you have to maintain a positive outlook and hope that the prospect will see the light — hopefully, sooner rather than later. Even if that never happens, if you have always conducted yourself in a professional and ethical manner, then maybe, just maybe, they will mention your company to another, more sensible target.

Read the Room

Another caveat brings me to this month’s third adage: “Read the room.”

Taking a page from the school of hard knocks, I have acquired a newfound appreciation of the criticality of verifying ahead of time precisely who within the end user organization will be present during your company’s demo and sales pitch, as well as what their role(s) are.

Having an advocate might get your foot in the door, but that door can slam shut awfully fast if you’re not prepared for naysayers who have unanticipated objections or alternative agendas. Once you’re caught on your heels, backpedaling, it can be difficult — if not impossible — to recover and salvage the business.

Get to the Right Person

A corollary to that is making sure your sales or marketing message gets to the right person within the targeted customer’s organization. For example, if you’re emphasizing reinforcing the perimeter or solving access control tailgating, get the ear of the security director.

If you’re focusing on leveraging video surveillance for compliance adherence, aim for the COO. If the offering features technology that saves money and boosts efficiencies by reducing or eliminating manned guards, seek out the CFO or CEO.

Whoever it is, you want to help them come off as a hero — even somewhat of a genius — to whomever they report to or are beholden to.

My belief is that the ultimate satisfaction comes from knowing your organization and you are doing the right thing for the right reasons. That is especially critical in a business such as security, where the overriding mission is to protect lives, well-being and property, as well as to deliver peace of mind.

Assuming you also have the right offering, even if it may not happen overnight, success will eventually come.

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About the Author

Contact:

Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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