5 Crucial Steps to Securing an Access Control Sale
Most end-user decisions are budget-driven, so it’s critical integrators can demonstrate a reliable return on investment to secure an access control sale.
Electronic access control has become the de facto security solution for commercial facilities around the world. This has resulted in an unprecedented number of options to enhance security, which, unfortunately, can leave clients feeling overwhelmed by the selection process.
As a result, it’s more important than ever for security integrators and consultants to function as trusted advisors who can help their clients successfully navigate the difficult process of finding the right products for their specific needs.
Your expertise can play a critical role in helping customers understand the many factors that they need to consider, including facility age, credential management platform and protocols, budget and long-term security strategy.
However, while being able to competently discuss the many features and advantages of various products is important, it’s generally not the key to securing a sale. This is because in most companies, the decision to implement upgrade or extend electronic access control is driven by budget, so being able to demonstrate a reliable return on investment (ROI) is critical.
Clients want to invest in the best possible solution that will provide a good return on investment for years to come. As a result, adding ROI metrics to your proposal could very well mean the difference between receiving and losing an order.
STEP 1: COMMUNICATION
As with any relationship, be it professional or personal, communication plays a crucial role. Particularly at the start of a project, you should focus on listening intently and encouraging them to communicate their needs. Start with the basics — what are their long-term goals? Was there some catalyst like a security crisis that is driving their desire to install or up-grade an access control system? Are there any special considerations or limitations to be aware of?
Some clients may feel as though they already know what they want, and it will be your responsibility to point out any discrepancies between what they want versus what is actually needed. That’s not ever an easy task, but it will be more difficult if the client feels your primary concern is making a sale rather than improving their security.
14 QUESTIONS TO DEMONSTRATE ACCESS CONTROL VALUE
- How does your business protect its assets?
- How much security is appropriate?
- What is the financial impact of inadequate security to your business?
- On average, what is the cost of financial losses without adequate security?
- What is the worst-case scenario of financial loss without adequate security?
- What types of security measures are needed?
- What impact will security have on the productivity of your employees?
- How will longer lock life help you reduce maintenance?
- How many more breaches might you avoid?
- What is your cost per repair?
- What are the consequences of preventable breaches?
- What might be the consequences of not improving your security?
- Would you agree that a longer life-lock is important in reducing costs?
- If you had the choice to deploy a system that is technologically adaptable, or one that puts the entire installment investment at risk, which would you choose?
STEP 2: FLEXIBILITY
One of the most frequent concerns expressed by clients is that a proposed solution will not be flexible enough to be upgraded and expanded over time as their needs change. Among the biggest challenges integrators face is providing a viable, integrated solution that can meet current safety and security issues, as well as accommodate emerging technologies that will allow the system to expand and adapt as needed in future.
Such solutions should be able to operate current technologies, as well as those under development, without compromising or risking investments in their present systems. As more businesses adopt electronic access control, there is a greater appreciation for the value it provides — namely, enhanced security, more efficient management and greater convenience.
In fact, now businesses are not only adding access control to their main facilities, but they’re asking security integrators how they can extend it to parking garages, warehouses, storage units and other buildings not connected to the main facility. Successfully extending the security perimeter to remote locations requires careful evaluation.
Limitations to extending access control include data transmission and potential costs. As a result, it often becomes a phase two or three initiative for a client. A client may know what they want, but the fiscal planning may occur over a period of time. In such cases, it’s typically best to create a scalable plan that ensures the IT infrastructure and associated products are “future-proof.”
It may be most prudent to design an open platform system that will provide the end user with many options now and in the future. Being locked into a proprietary technology can force them into a specific product or brand — and another significant investment if they want to make changes.
STEP 3: ROI
“It’s not products and features, it’s how they work together to provide benefits that translate into dollars and cents,” says Rachel Young, an account manager for integrator DataVox. “Ultimately, that’s what the customer is after. In fact, the higher the rank of the decision-makers, the less they care about technology and the more they care about how the solution impacts their bottom line.”
The initial cost of an electronic access control solution is just that — the initial cost. Ongoing maintenance, operating costs and future upgrades all add to the final cost. That dollarized outcome — the impact on their bottom line — can be found by subtracting the product purchase price from the dollarized economic value.
What remains is the true net customer cost. It will be important for you to have a dollarized value proposition that you can share with clients. You may develop a general one to start, and as you learn a client’s business, you’ll be able to help them tailor it even more to their specific situation.
For example, begin the “value” conversation by explaining how the solution can:
- Increase revenue
- Reduce or eliminate costs
- Reduce risk of catastrophic events
- Understand financial impacts and tradeoffs of substituting products
Any analysis of a proposed expenditure should also include the cost to purchase, support and maintain equipment, programs or technologies. This gives you a total cost of ownership (TCO) — that is, the total of all the expenses associated with deploying, maintaining and troubleshooting the system and its components over time.
STEP 4: BENEFITS
Once you’ve outlined the TCO of a proposed solution, it’s time to outline direct benefits of your proposed investment. For example, a proposal to automate or consolidate a security system into a single workstation may result in reduced space needs, savings in wiring and communications infrastructure, automated system maintenance and upgrades.
Broader coverage, elimination of key and lock replacements and centralized equipment are all examples of direct benefits. Indirect benefits are equally important factors in a proposal. For example, the addition of surveillance cameras deters illegal actions and reassures personnel that security measures are in place — in turn, upping productivity as employees can focus on value-added work.
Upgrading to a networked security system can result in many indirect benefits, such as reducing the manual labor involved with replacing or re-keying locks and assigning new keys, assigning access privileges, revoking access privileges, preparing compliance and regulatory reports, maintenance and emergency communication and notification.
Other potential elements that can produce ROI include: Propose a wireless solution. Wireless solutions often allow end users to expand the number of openings that can be secured within the same cost parameters as a wired solution because eliminating the need to run wires to each opening dramatically reduces labor costs.
Choose locking systems that combine the electrified lock, reader, door position and REX switches together into one device. Combined locking systems simplify installation as well as the connection to the access control panel. And because they are modular, they make future upgrades a simple matter of component replacement.
Recommend smart credentials. Approximately the same price as a proximity card, they provide a higher level of security, more convenience and far greater functionality. Smart cards not only access physical locations, but also an organization’s computer networks and logical access control system making them convenient for payments at the cafeteria or vending machines.
Showing your customer how you can provide a system that safeguards their people and property is certainly a first step in making a sale. But demonstrating the long-term return on investment — the real value of a security solution — will set you apart from your competitors.
STEP 5: SOLUTIONS
While demonstrating ROI can be an effective way to secure new business, it’s important to remember that anyone can sell products; if you want to build the trust necessary to cultivate long-term clients, your primary goal should always be to provide the best long-term solutions for their unique needs.
With customers facing more choices than ever before, they depend on your advice and experience to help them formulate a practical security plan and select an appropriate access control solution. It’s vital that each new sales lead is treated not merely as a potential sale, but as an opportunity to build a lasting relationship that will lead to repeat business for your company. The end result will be an access control solution for the present and future, and a satisfied client willing to refer you to others.
Minu Youngkin is Marketing Manager for Allegion. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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