How to Sell More Fire/Life-Safety Solutions

End users typically view fire/life-safety systems as expenditures they would prefer to avoid rather than an investment paying dividends across the organization. Open C-level decision makers’ eyes to show them how today’s solutions not only protect people, assets and facilities, but also ensure compliance, mitigate risk and lend peace of mind.

Fire and life safety remain important considerations for chief risk officers (CROs). Even so, strained budgets and other security issues on CROs’ minds present significant challenges when it comes to selling fire and life-safety solutions and services. With physical threats and digital attacks capturing headlines, fire safety is often pushed to the back burner as executives focus on more top-of-mind security issues like access control and information security.

As with any security equipment or service, selling proactive fire and life-safety protection means convincing a CRO to invest in the mitigation of a threat he or she may not be able to envision. And if the CRO’s organization already meets the minimum for fire and life-safety compliance, he or she may ask, “Where’s the fire?” when it comes to implementing holistic solutions. In response, your best retort may be to ask, “But what if there is a fire?”

Lack of preparation contributes to fire losses of more than $2.3 billion annually, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Organizations that proactively integrate fire and life-safety programs can mitigate those losses, which is a reality that should capture the attention of any bottom-line-conscious CRO. And when the CRO understands that integrated solutions can protect the company’s investments as well as ensure compliance, mitigate risk and provide peace of mind, the solutions should nearly sell themselves.

Unfortunately, where many fire security sales teams fall short is in their approach. They lead with a technology and product sales pitch instead of selling true fire and life-safety solutions. Unable to make the intangibles of mitigated risk and peace of mind “real” for their customers, these parties show off the latest technologies and newest product features. But focusing on the tools isn’t always enough to justify an investment that protects a CRO’s business from a potentially devastating fire event.

Adding to the disconnect between customers and their fire security providers, many organizations are focused solely on maintaining compliance with various fire regulations or standards. If a customer’s only goal for implementing a fire and life-safety program is to adhere to regulations, fire security professionals face the challenge of convincing the customer that a simple investment in equipment and maintenance may not truly secure the organization’s assets. Remember, compliance represents minimum standards, and no one should accept the minimum when it comes to fire and life safety.

So what’s the best approach? It’s simple. A fire security sales staff must sell the safety of an organization’s people, assets and facilities. We’re in the life-safety business, after all — not in the business of selling standalone equipment and technology that doesn’t address comprehensive safety. Security professionals should be looking to provide assurance that in the event of a fire catastrophe, a customer’s facility is ready to detect and enable rapid reaction to the event.

More to Protection Than Products

Establishing a proper fire security program begins with the common goal of creating the safest environment possible, and effective selling strategies follow suit. When sales professionals focus on mitigating risk and providing a safe place to do business, they position their organizations as strategic service partners instead of commodity providers. That’s the difference between providing peace of mind versus a piece of equipment. This approach also positions the security provider to deliver expert counsel about a range of topics, including technology, integration, monitoring, employee training and more.

Being a strategic service provider means understanding the customer’s mindset when it comes to fire detection security, and offering solutions that solve problems in a cost-effective manner. Many customers are simply looking to meet compliance codes with the minimum spend possible. The customer wants to know how to make his or her existing equipment fit with the latest regulatory requirements without blowing the budget on a completely new system. These customers can benefit from partnering with a true fire security expert that can look at their facilities holistically and integrate old and new equipment from multiple manufacturers. Security integrators are uniquely positioned to function as that strategic expert.

Tackling the challenge of fire security integration by purchasing equipment a la carte is not the most efficient use of a security budget, especially if the customer is working with one or more providers who aren’t viewing the system holistically. Customers who buy the bare minimum piece by piece end up with disparate systems installed in different ways. Components may be compliant, but there’s no rhyme or reason to the complete system and it often falls short of offering true protection. Bargain hunting for fire security equipment with multiple providers may present cost savings in the near term, but is more costly long-term because the installation and integration are not being managed strategically.

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