When Selling Security, Tactics of Yesterday Aren’t Going to Cut it
Be of service to customers, don’t merely make a sale and walk away.
It’s that lovely time of year: You arrive at the car dealership just in time to help the sales guy hit his quota. You don’t even exit your vehicle before he approaches. He’s friendly enough, but it’s all a game. You know his margins are extravagant and you deserve the best deal. You’ve researched what your trade-in’s worth and you’re ready to make a move. If only that sales guy would get out of your way.
As a consumer we don’t like to be “sold” anything. We like to buy. We want to choose what we buy from whom. We want to decide when, where and how we buy. We expect our suppliers to be grateful for our purchases and to see value in our relationship.
When it comes to our business, the sentiment is the same. Managed services are redefining our role as integrators, and the trusty old sales tactics of yesterday just aren’t going to cut it. We can’t go out and hunt for a project, make the sale and walk away with no strings attached. We need to be of service to our customers.
Consider IT: As managed services took hold in that industry the term VAR became the primary acronym used to describe integrators like us. What do you think when you read the words “Value-Added Reseller?” Do you think of a one-time transaction? Or do you think of a valuable partnership?
How can we as physical security integrators add value to our relationships? We need to be service-minded. I recently read Mr. Shmooze by Richard Abraham. It’s an easy read, and one that I like to revisit from time to time. Mr. Shmooze demonstrates how to add meaning to business relationships by making the people you do business with feel appreciated, special and important.
We will only be successful selling managed services when we:
1. Offer services that our customers want and need
This requires listening. We need to understand their business model, what deliverables they are held accountable for and what processes could be made more efficient. Corporations invest in security for three main reasons: To have a safe work environment, to maintain compliance and to protect assets. Our offerings need to integrate into their operations and establish an ROI that they can measure and recognize. Now that more industry manufacturers have created new products that incorporate a managed-services component, it is our responsibility to research and identify solutions for our clients, to bring those opportunities to them and to be in a position to consistently deliver.
2. Become a trusted partner who they can rely on to have their best interests in mind
Becoming a trusted partner takes time and effort. As in any relationship the foundation of trust is created one building block at a time. Were we on time to our meetings? Were we prepared? Did we ask the right questions? Have we shown interest in their work? Are we sharing what we know? Can we solve their problems? Are we on the same team?
Selling through service requires us to begin by serving others. We make ourselves available and apply ourselves to meet the needs of our clients. When our clients subscribe to a service they are selecting a partner, a resource that is expected to deliver on a continuous basis and without interruption. This philosophy alters what we refer to as “success.” Customer retention becomes the priority, deemphasizing the cut-throat nature of project-based sales. When we are all competing for the same business, some customers will only go where the price is the lowest, but others will look for value. The process of profiling the ideal client for your business and qualifying new opportunities needs to be based on the long-term value proposition for both sides.
3. Establish long-term relationships. Sounds easy enough… let’s explore in a bit more detail
Long-term relationships are based on commitment, one that goes both ways. Developing the framework for managed services offerings requires a thorough assessment of our organizations’ strengths and weaknesses, the markets served, the opportunities to improve an end-user organization’s security posture and bottom-line. The systems and technology used need to be designed and installed in the most effective manner possible because when you sell service you are committing your organization to the performance of that system. Good enough for an initial signoff is not the same as good enough for optimal performance and results over time. But no matter how good the portfolio is, people won’t subscribe to our managed services if they don’t feel like you are there to serve them. Perception is reality, and we need to approach our business contacts with the utmost care and concern, looking for opportunities to be of service and to do the right thing because, well, it’s just the right thing to do.
Let’s raise the bar for security sales professionals from being competitive bid submitters, order takers and product-of-the-month promoters and become servants to the people we work for and with. Let’s find our motivation in making others successful, for their success sets the pace for our success. In 2016, I encourage you to find ways to be of service. Anticipate the needs of others, and delight in satisfying them.
Bio: Sharon Shaw is PP, PSP, client development manager at Tech Systems, Inc., and chairman of the PSA Sales and Marketing Committee.
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