Winning an access control job requires preparation, knowledge and salesmanship. You must be knowledg

The on-site walk-through is the most important opportunity to sell a potential client on you, on your company, and on your security system. If the prospect perceives you, the salesperson, as professional and trustworthy, she or he is bound to regard your company in the same light, since they associate your face with the company.

The key to conducting a successful walk-through is preparation. Know as much as you can about each system that you may be considering for the job. This means not just knowing what a system does and doesn’t do, but how it does, or why it doesn’t perform certain functions.

Refine Your Walk-Through in 10 Steps

1. Look good. When you arrive at the site, fix your hair, straighten your tie, smooth out your dress; look professional. Be well-rested, and feel confident. Smile and be friendly with everyone, since you do not know who ultimately signs the checks or makes the decisions.

2. Lay a foundation. Before beginning the walk-through, sit down for a few minutes with your host to discuss your company and what you can do to ensure the installation of a reliable, efficient access control system.

3. Listen. Try to find out from the customer what David Wilson, president of Berkshire Alarm out of Litchfield, Conn., calls the customer’s “pain.” “I’m looking to find out where their pain is,” explains Wilson. “If I can uncover some pain that they have, and even some pain that they don’t even know they have, by the time I’m done … then it’s much easier to sell them on a system like that, because they realize that they’re losing money, or they’ve got a potential to lose a lot of money.”

Good attentiveness can also offer clues about budget, preferences, and sometimes other competitors bidding for the job. “We want to find out what they do have to spend so we can try to tailor our system to their budget,” explains Wilson.

When a prospect asks a question, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I can get the information for you.” They will prefer that answer over a lie or a bungled, uncertain response.

4. Start the walk-through from a logical location. If you have determined from the meeting that the system will be PC-based, start at the PC location and work outward. Then, ask yourself where the access control panels can be placed.

5. Check out every location. Remember, no two doors are identical; do not assume that the same equipment will be appropriate for two doors that are “basically the same.”

hile walking to each location, pay close attention to the ceiling type (e.g., drop, solid, pvc, plenum), as well as overall facility construction, to better estimate your equipment and service requirements. Also, keep the distance to each location in mind. Try counting steps or ceiling tiles, or estimate distance by looking down the hall.

6. Complete a worksheet for every location. Take note of everything: the door type, door frame, door handles, locks, and even kick plates. If everything is brass, you will want to put brass finishes as an option on certain equipment. What type of walls are there, and where is the reader going? Is the reader going to be an entry only or entry/exit setup? Is it going to be in the mullion, surface- or flush-mounted? If the door is to be contacted, will the contact be surface or flush? Consider whether to use request-to-exit. If so, what type? Your options can include crash bars, touch bars, motion detectors, or push buttons.

7. Again, keep the concerns of the customer in mind. “The most common concern I get,” says William Chernack, president of Alarms Plus out of Flanders, N.J., “is the employees knowing how to use the system, getting into it, and how easy it is.”

8. If one of the doors is on the loading dock or in a warehouse with an open ceiling, take care in figuring time and materials. Does the cable need to be in pipe? If there are racks against the walls, how high does the cable need to be? Can you get there with a ladder, or is a lift needed? Can cable be run along the girder, or does it have to follow the perimeter? Calculate at each door carefully.

9. Review. Before leaving the facility, review all the major requirements and door locations. Know how the locations and equipment relate to the Life Safety Code and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), power requirements and locations, door equipment, man-hours per door, cable type, door-to-control equipment distances, and system requirements. Wilson stresses that code issues are important “especially with access control, to be sure that you’re not going to violate any of the egress requirements, when you’re blocking somebody in a building.”

10. Reassure your prospective client. Let them know that they can call you with any questions or ideas. If possible, secure permission to tour a current client’s property so the prospect may see the system in action. Finally, give a return date – no more than five days – for your proposal.

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