Big Idea of the Month: Utilize Happy Customers as ‘Centers of Influence’

Here’s why existing customers can help you sell security and home automation easier than talking to strangers.

Big Idea of the Month: Utilize Happy Customers as ‘Centers of Influence’

Cory Schott is an old friend (it seems like I’m saying that a lot lately) and a good one. It seems like whenever I’m near Sarasota, Fla., I look for an excuse to call Schott and get some shrimp or lobster and just relax in the pleasant sunshine.

Dehart Alarms became Dehart Alarm Systems somewhere along the way and has become a well-known fixture among businesses and residences anywhere in the area. And like many of us, he’s had a few adventures as well as misadventures along the way and seems to have come out well on the other side.

We had lunch in the aforementioned lobster shack, and reminisced not just about the “good old days” but also the future, and when I called Schott to interview him for this column, I started by saying, “Cory, what’s going to happen when things get back to normal, more or less, and the first thing on our minds is not going to be COVID-19?”

After a thoughtful pause Schott responded, “That things should get back to more face-to-face conversations and start eliminating the annoying telephone and almost as annoying Internet marketers that do our prospecting for us. Somehow, that has led to the proliferation of robo-callers and Internet marketers that really don’t know anything about us or what we do.”

And of course, that led to a conversation about all the doorknockers and telemarketers that have somehow taken over communications with our potential customer base. And somehow and somewhere along the line they have stopped being prospective customers and somehow become the enemy of great marketers everywhere.

Of course, when I talk about great marketers, I’m talking about alarm dealers all over the country, even the world, who have been responsible for building up the customer bases of the industry. Now, almost everyone wants to change to more personalized contacts with the eye to developing good relationships with our prospective customers.

That begs the question of how many potential customers (new friends) could you handle if all of your dreams suddenly came true? Maybe developing good relationships should be changed to developing good business relationships with a select group of potential customers.

By doing that, you’ve eliminated a lot of your wasted exposure and have set your mind to the concept of setting a course of achieving manageable numbers of new friends (customers).

Remember the old concept of developing centers of influence in an effort to expand the number of potential customers you actually have? For example, if you have, let’s say a thousand customers, then you actually have a thousand centers of influence.

People who are, at least to some degree, familiar with and possibly happy with your service who could possibly think of a few other friends, family, acquaintances, etc., that would be real happy to find out more about having not just a security system but rather a security and home integration system.

Aha! I can almost feel the quietness of response you would anticipate. However, don’t be fooled by past experiences. Remember, some good has come out of COVID-19.

We learned how to get rid of telemarketers. We learned how to direct mail solicitations on the Internet to the trash basket. We learned that we could actually enjoy our homes night after night, after night, ad infinitum and we learned not only was it not so bad, but for many of us it was pretty good.

And we learned about Zoom. And we learned about family conferencing. And we learned how we could watch television without commercials. And we learned that maybe, just maybe, there might be better things in life than what we enjoy during the lockdown, and maybe now is the time to investigate new things.

For this portion of this column, please go to the Internet and look at all the devices you could have, fairly inexpensively, that would make your life happy. Just look under “home automation.”

Robotic vacuum cleaners, electronic audio things that could make our lives easier. Automatic draperies. Whole-house audio systems. Any, literally any kind of music you want to listen to for a nominal fee in any room, anywhere in your house. And the list goes on.

So maybe the answer is calling all of those 1,000 customers, one at a time, and offering them something that might make their house more enjoyable to live in or come home to. And let those customers know that you will be happy to send a representative out with that gift as appreciation for your customers loyalty during a tough time, along with a complete checkup of your system. And actually do it.

Oh, and by the way, you might ask, “Mrs. Customer, can you think of anybody else who would enjoy the kind of service and gift that you just received?” Got the picture?

I’ll be writing more about this during coming months but you can get a head start by thinking about the last few paragraphs and what it could mean for your business. Be creative. Let your mind run free … no limitations for just a short while. And along the way, you just might change the world for the better.

At the very least, maybe you could accomplish what Schott set out to recommend — relationships can help you sell security and home automation so much easier than talking to strangers. At least Schott thinks so, and he’s got the customer base to prove it!

Take care, stay healthy and remember, COVID-19 and everything associated with it will pass. Get ready for the future, it will be here before you know it.

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About the Author


Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Marketing Group (DMG), a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates Int’l in the 1980s.

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