Examining Selling Strategies Post COVID-19

The “new normal” calls for new selling strategies. Business guru Paul Boucherle provides a real-world example of adapting to a new customer environment.

Examining Selling Strategies Post COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our world of business and life, and perhaps more significantly your customers’ business. The secret to succeeding in business is to adapt quickly or die a slow, painful demise. Are you adapting or declining? Are you adapting fast enough?

Your customers will make that decision for you in ways you may not have anticipated but may be aware of from lessons learned from the past. The object lesson from the past was IP video technology.

When this security technology somewhat expectedly appeared, did you think this was a passing fad? You indeed had to adapt, perhaps slowly, or get left behind on video surveillance opportunities.

Your teams had to adapt by learning new technical and selling skills, didn’t they? There was one new challenge they may not have been prepared to effectively deal with. That was learning to work with your customer’s IT department. The stories of how salespeople blew up meetings with IT departments are legendary. Guilty as charged during my misspent youth.

I had to adapt in 2000 when we introduced the first Linux-based IP megapixel recording and viewing software. I learned very quickly that selling to the IT manager was a completely different selling environment from what I was used to selling to security and facility customers.

They asked vastly different questions, and had different concerns and department agendas that I did not quite understand yet. I learned fast not to engage IT in a battle of wits, knowledge, feature sets or God help you, technical acronyms. You will lose that battle and maybe the war.

I learned that IT people are pretty darn smart, naturally skeptical, have healthy egos and generally like to be a little competitive with other IT people. Reminds me of some of our smart technicians, but I digress. So perhaps a true adaptation, object lesson story will help.

I was invited to discuss the merits of IP video and network enabled security cameras. My weapon of choice was the IQinvision 1.3-megapixel camera. We were one of that manufacturer’s first VARs. It was at the College of Veterinary Medicine at a major university in Ohio known for its powerful football program, and was attended by four of its IT team, including the decision-maker.

If you are unaware, IT loathes sitting through a PowerPoint presentation, so I adapted my selling style to match their natural curiosity, competitiveness, smarts and knowledge stacks.

I introduced myself with a brief background, then set a box in the middle if the conference room table. In the box was an IQeye 1 camera, power supply, Cat-5 jumper cable and software CD. I let it sit on the table for about 30 seconds and told them what was in the box. Then I said, “The IT department record for out of the box to image across a network is 5 minutes and 18 seconds.”

I was silent and allowed that statement to sink in. The first question was, “Who was it?” I shared it was the IT department of a school in Michigan. Need I mention that competitive drive thing upped the ante just a wee bit? My next statement was, “Don’t start the timer until we open the box.”

They scurried off to get some computers and tech stuff. They had the camera up, software loaded and image on the screen in 4 minutes and 49 seconds — a new record.

I then shared some insights into the configuration tools and settings and answered maybe six questions. I told them they could keep it for a week to try and break it. If they liked it, we could design a system as a pilot program. Made that sale for 23 cameras and software for $42,000 in 2004. True story.

It took me about 12 months to figure out that strategy, to unlearn previous sales habits and adapt to a very new customer environment. You and your team can do the same. I did it for about seven years as a systems integrator with a cool, emerging technology solution! So, what did I do with this new epiphany of selling a brand-new technology to a brand-new customer base?

I took those lessons learned and in 2006 began teaching many national system integrators sales teams how to adapt and sell in this IP environment. Let me explain how this connects with you today.

You must adapt to work with many different departments which include HR, risk management, operations, health and safety and those you are familiar with, such as security and facilities. One more biggie, and I do mean BIGGIE … senior management may be much more involved in approving your integration plans and funding. Do you have an adaptation plan or process?

Let me suggest one … build stronger B.R.I.D.G.E.S., which is the acronym we use for an improved selling and communication process.

Interested in learning more? Good! Join us next month and I will share this process with your hungry minds and how to effectively use it.

About the Author

Contact:

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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