Security Dealers: How to Gain New Profits by Expanding Products & Services
While it may be easy to stay within your comfort zone, to remain competitive security dealers and integrators must consider expanding their offerings.
To Assimilate or Expand?
While some dealers and integrators prefer to introduce new product lines that assimilate seamlessly into their current business models, others are more open to take a risk and expand into new territory. Convergint’s Patel is open to both.
“For traditional projects involving solutions that we’ve had many years of experience, such as new camera models, our customers expect us to have the ability to conduct a straightforward and efficient installation. For other emerging applications, we must work towards simplifying the process for our customers that are migrating into a new area.”
Many customers are migrating into a more unified approach from disparate systems, Patel says, and it is important to help facilitate that.
“This is an example of a situation for which we’d have our professional services group get involved. They help to continually evolve our business processes and provide the transitional support for our customers,” he explains.“For us, it’s great when they fit in seamlessly, but we aren’t afraid to expand upon new products,”
AVX’s Etter says. “Some product offerings do make more sense than others. When you are passionate about technology, you’re always looking for new products and categories that complement what you do. I’m always learning about new stuff and then testing and tinkering well before we consider including them in what we do.”
Taking On the Challenges
Change and expansion come with their share of hurdles. Overcoming them can be especially true for smaller security companies. “For say, a one-man shop, there’s a tremendous responsibility to stay on top of what’s new. It takes a lot of time and effort and so helpful to have a staff to back you that understands products,” Etter says. “I’ve been testing products for over 10 years on both the residential and commercial security sides. I also deal with video and access, but for higher end applications, you really need a security IT person on staff to handle that stuff or you’re going to sink.”
Etter raises an all-too-familiar scenario where you have a system go down at 6 a.m. on a Sunday, but you can’t rely on a manufacturer that’s not on staff . “People who are well versed in the deeper levels of what we do with integration are needed,” he says.
In terms of sales and marketing challenges, Patel says time and attention top the list. Setronics’ Kwapien categorizes them as being able to inject new offerings into the design community, educating the customer base, and training sales staff on how to properly sell them.
Sales and marketing support, says Securadyne’s Beoethel, typically takes two forms: demand creation and lead generation. Before there can be sales leads there must be demand, he contends, so the first challenge is creating it.
“This often entails educating the end-user marketplace on challenges that they didn’t know they have, which can be difficult and time consuming. The integrator’s sales cycle is typically two to six months depending on the extent to which the end user has been educated on their business challenges and potential solutions.”
In terms of installation and service obstacles, the training and certification of technicians is one of the biggest expenses Boethel sees for today’s systems integrator. “New products exacerbate this challenge so we have to be very selective.”
Etter echoes that it’s really challenging to do both well, on time and on budget. “It’s why the right manufacturer relationships are important,” he emphasizes. “Product and product families that have consistency in quality and interface are important. So is training and access to their support.”
Then there’s the old question, do you add new personnel or train existing staff? “You know your existing personnel best so that is easier,” Etter says. “However, it’s tough to take people out of the field to learn. Often one key person gets directly trained and then educates/trains the others. New personnel to handle new products is more challenging and has greater risk.”
With so many things to consider, how do dealers and integrators meet those challenges? Etter sums it up: “You just do. You trust your team and use your soft skills to be the cheerleader to get personnel excited to learn more. While it is hard to take staff out of the field at times, you must do it. Salary isn’t the only reason people come to work. They want to be respected, given opportunities and want to come to work. If they don’t, they won’t be your employee for long.”
Patel offers this advice: “For Convergint, the mainstays of our business always come back to our core set of values and beliefs. We aim to be our customers’ best service provider. The ability to deliver solutions that are fully reliable, cyber-secure, tested and scalable is more important than ever.”
Erin Harrington has 20+ years of editorial, marketing and PR experience within the security industry. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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