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.
In addition to cost-related issues, an ad-hoc compilation of equipment installed over time by multiple providers may actually increase risk. Fire security professionals from different companies address solutions in different ways. Such variability in standards, technologies and equipment placement represents increased risk.
It also places the onus on the customer for maintenance, inspection, monitoring and upkeep — activities that should all be the responsibility of a true fire security expert. If something goes wrong before a fire, the customer doesn’t know who to call. In the event of a failed inspection — or worse, a failed response to a fire event — the customer is ultimately responsible because they are in charge of managing the system. Strategic fire security providers should offer to handle all equipment, installation and maintenance decisions in a manner that allows customers to maintain compliance without worrying about the finer points of the system.
A provider with monitoring capabilities can also look beyond the installation and show the customer how their investment will be supported every minute of every day. Even nonexclusive providers should make sure the security products and services they offer fit within the customer’s overarching fire and life-safety program.
Establishing Uniform Standards
As customers consider the gauntlet of compliance fire standards they must meet for detection, suppression, lighting, monitoring and extinguishers, details can quickly become confusing. Introduce the variability of widespread enterprises, including multiple buildings and municipalities, and keeping track of all the regulations can be mindboggling. Even different types of facilities within the same city — such as a warehouse and an office building — may have different fire detection standards and suppression requirements. Relying on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards is a start, but customers looking to make the most of their investments should work with their fire security providers to strategically set proactive organizational standards.
For a company with a few dozen or even
a few thousand locations, determining how to fulfill the minimum fire standards for each facility can be more costly than treating all facilities the same. A strategic fire security provider should counsel these customers to establish their own set of standards that they can apply to every building in their network.
Establishing an enterprise-wide standard that exceeds current regulations accomplishes two significant goals: 1) eliminating variability in the fire security system to provide better protection; 2) reducing complexity in maintenance, inspections and compliance across multiple facilities and local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs).
Setting a high standard with each customer also builds confidence in the investment. A proactive organizational standard is defendable and gives the customer peace of mind — both key goals of a fire and life-safety sales process. The creation of such forward-thinking standards cannot be achieved by a focus on technology alone.
Instead, the fire provider and organization must work to identify business and security needs and assess the customer’s unique environment. Through careful planning, a standardized platform can be created that works throughout the customer’s network of facilities and can be applied systematically everywhere the customer operates. Furthermore, for the security provider, these standards can be replicated within a given vertical and applied to similar organizations.
Though setting standards may seem more complex then selling products on the front end, working with a customer to set enterprise-wide fire standards is often a simpler solution. Proactive organizational standards give customers the autonomy to keep their facilities safe and compliant regardless of regulation changes. Standards also act as roadmaps for a fire security service provider to execute everything from equipment installation to regular maintenance and monitoring. Customers that impose their own high standards take control of the critical security decisions instead of allowing a third party (like a local AHJ) to determine fire and life-safety standards for them.
Once a provider analyzes a customer’s building environments and has a full picture of the risks and potential hazards a customer faces, it can apply detailed knowledge of technology to determine what level of standards meet or exceed compliance with NFPA and International Building Code (IBC) regulations. Because these overlapping regulations are often what confuse customers most in this highly regulated business, a strategic provider can add the most value by navigating the hierarchical nuances and working with a customer to settle on one simplified set of standards that establishes a roadmap for the security program from integration to monitoring.
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