Leveraging the Life-Safety Link


I have a smoke/CO detector that cost me $30 to $40 down at the hardware store. Why should I buy your $100 detector?

SOLUTION: It’s true that a customer can hop in the car, run down to the local hardware store, buy a detector and  batteries, and be done with it. If a prospective buyer poses this economically charged question, it’s time to conduct a walk-through of the house. More often than not, a detector will be running low on batteries or be dead altogether.

Stahl draws a pretty vivid comparison. “That’s like trying to fight a fire with a hose that isn’t connected to any water. It’s pretty worthless,” he says.

A monitored system, though, can be alerted of a failing system or low batteries and notify the central station as well as the homeowner that it’s time for replacement.

Sales professionals also should remind the customer of the effects of CO poisoning, and why it’s called “The Silent Killer.” Many symptoms (dizziness, nausea, headache) can be mistaken for the flu. If a person therefore goes to bed intending to use rest as his/her remedy, that person may not wake up or be capable of seeking help by the time they realize what’s happening. A monitored system is truly the only safety net against incidents like this.


I understand that it’s important. But I just don’t have the money to spend right now; maybe in a few months.

SOLUTION: Dealers who are passionate about life safety typically have the edge in this scenario, as most of them use monitored technology themselves to protect their own families.

Consider this comparison: When a refrigerator breaks down, most people (even though they may be strapped for cash) accept that it’s necessary to pay $700-$800 for a replacement to protect less than $200 worth of food. Compare that investment to an extra $100 for a detection device that provides a critical function and saves a lot more than food.

“At the end of the conversation, you can successfully make the case that buying this item can save your life, and you really don’t even need to finish the sentence and ask if it’s worth it,” Stahl says. “If the security system doesn’t have a smoke or CO detector, the rest of it really isn’t worth getting.”

The Key Differentiator

Ultimately, regardless of how much education a dealer provides during a sales call, it’s still up to the customer if monitored smoke and CO detection is included in the overall package. With the current state of the economy, many dealers are understandably hesitant to push
additional equipment, fearful that suggesting an additional $100 in devices will lose the sale.

For dealers who are serious about life safety, though, the conversation then usually turns toward finding ways to cut back in other areas. Down economy or not, consumers are much more willing to pay if they can be convinced the service they are getting is superior.

A high percentage of World Wide Security’s sales include these devices, which when added up greatly increases account values across the board. The dealer’s approach, therefore, should be to use life-safety technology as a differentiator, rather than an added expense. “If you educate the customer to the point they understand where you’re coming from, it usually shouldn’t be an issue,” says Stahl.

At World Wide, in fact, Stahl says one of his representatives would rather walk away from a sale if smoke and CO detectors aren’t included. “You’ve got a responsibility to the customers to provide them an effective system that will help protect their lives and not just short-sell them,” he says.

The Growing Role of Wireless

New advances in wireless technology can play a role in helping to close sales that include monitored CO and smoke detectors. This is largely because wireless devices present far fewer installation hassles.

To be most effective, CO detectors must be mounted in certain areas of the home. For example, some guidelines state the devices must be as a high as a light switch yet maintain a certain amount of spacing from the ceiling. For older homes, though, it can prove challenging to run wiring to these locations – which ultimately means it’s a more expensive installation for the homeowner and more time-consuming for the dealer. This installation headache is the most apparent aspect a wireless device can remedy.

Additionally, one of the main benefits of wireless is the ability to allow central stations to more easily monitor the device’s functionality. For instance, some hardwired solutions require extra wiring and battery backup to monitor for end-of-life, as well as to perform during loss-of-power conditions. Newer wireless CO detectors, such as Honeywell’s 5800CO, offer fully supervised functionality that enables central station operators to monitor for and work under all of these conditions (e.g. electricity blackouts).

Finally, the unobtrusive nature of wireless technology also protects room aesthetics, and in some cases consumer health. This can be an especially strong selling point for home or business owners who have older structures to protect. In one such case, an integrator charged with outfitting an older building elected to go the wireless route after determining that a hardwired approach would create exposure to asbestos.

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