Taking a Consultive Approach Post COVID–19 (Part 2)

Asking quality questions, listening and then taking time to understand and clarify is the key to building support and relationship bridges.

Welcome to the world according to “GIARPTET.” I left you hanging last month but I want to fix that by providing the last four steps in my recommendation of taking a consultative approach to selling a winning strategic security plan.

Consultative consulting or selling by its nature means you walk in with an empty head for every assignment. Leave biases, preconceived ideas and even past successes behind and start with a clean sheet of paper. Every customer is unique, even those who compete in the same vertical markets.

Every customer wants to feel unique. Showing respect, asking good questions and active listening are the keys to success. Trust me, you will have plenty of time to process the data. Please don’t make the mistake of suggesting knee-jerk solutions too early in your dialogue.

The reasoning behind this is you will be working with new departments, new business goals, new concerns and new people with different perspectives. Asking quality questions, listening and then taking time to understand and clarify is the key to building support and relationship bridges. Are you ready for GIARPTET?

Gain Input (GI)
You are comfortable working with security and maybe the facilities teams, but what about HR, risk management, operations, safety, IT and senior management? COVID-19 dramatically expanded the stakeholders in security and safety protocols. When you get this many cooks in the kitchen, things can get interesting. We developed the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. process to help our clients effectively, efficiently and respectfully manage the complexity of so many new voices. The skill comes in asking, listening, clarifying, suggesting “what if,” and then nurturing collaboration. When different stakeholders all see a “win” for them, everybody will win when approaching the CEO for funding.

Actual Risks (AR)
In pandemic times when contradictory information, rapidly shifting compliance guidelines, different perceptions of vulnerability, very few hard facts and an overabundance of informed or uninformed opinions are floated around, is when PERCEIVED risk grows to gigantic proportions. As consultants, we acknowledge all the possible/plausible risks to a facility and customer based on empirical data, past incidents, local crime trends and gaps in security plans.

However, we also factor in the probability and severe impact of that possible risk in our studies. A pandemic makes this more complex but as in any good process, manageable. When working with customers and if risks shift upward based on data or in some cases company cultural decisions, be the voice of reason for reasonable and adequate measures that have a logical progression.

Phased Triage (PT)
It’s not often security and safety are given a blank check to address a risk or problem. While the wallet has certainly loosened up a bit, you should expect to provide a phased triage approach that is logical, defendable in its practicality and supported by those diverse stakeholders we were talking about earlier. It’s simply a prioritized list of what should be done first, second, third and at what cost with what impact on actual risks. Financial decision makers like choices and they like to weigh options before committing their limited resources to solve a problem.

Give them a business case and ROI they can chew on and digest. The easiest approach is leveraging existing assets, like access control that is already in place, is paid for, but perhaps lack some additional horsepower. Bring solutions that can quickly, inexpensively and cost effectively “bolt on” another 100 horsepower. Look at the human element of response with a triage solution. Will it make their lives easier and safer or just more complicated?

Emerging Technologies (ET)
We are not talking about bleeding edge or vaporware technologies, but rather leading technologies that have track records prior to the COVID-19 marketing frenzy. Making new technology shifts should follow a process of kicking the tires with your sales and technician team, in house, before heading to your customer to sell or install. You are better able to recommend a new technology solution if you have bench tested, or better yet, installed it on your building access control system, such as new reader technologies.

Being able to have a dialogue with customers based on actual experience vs. a product demo is much more credible and gives you confidence. In a fast-moving technology market and to get the real skinny, limit your risks by reaching out to trusted associates that are using or have tried a new technology. Participate in testing and provide evaluations on new technology products that may benefit a security organization or association to which you belong. Think of in terms of Amazon reviews. I read them before I buy, do you?

Those are eight steps of a process I use as a security consultant. I hope they help your team engage your customers from a more consultative way. P.S. I have an infographic on this process. Send me an email and refer to “November SSI column Part 2.”

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About the Author


Paul C. Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is Security Sales & Integration’s “Business Fitness” columnist. A principal of Matterhorn Consulting, he has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience including UL central station operations, risk-vulnerability assessments, strategic security program design and management of industry convergence challenges. Boucherle has successfully guided top-tier companies in achieving enhanced ROI resulting from improved sales and operational management techniques. He is a charismatic speaker and educator on a wide range of critical topics relating to the security industry of today and an accomplished corporate strategist and marketer whose vision and expertise in business performance have driven notable enterprise growth in the security industry sector.

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