Wholesale Security Distributors Talk Hottest Products, Integrator Opportunities & More
Representatives from wholesale distributors dish on the hottest products and opportunities, market challenges, relationship building and how their companies more effectively help their customers. A distributor directory is also included.
What are the top challenges facing security distributors today? How is your company dealing with them?
Cardazzi: The biggest challenge facing distributors is ensuring the sales team and customers are up to date on the latest technology and sales trends. Our award-winning ADI University program provides our sales staff with the most up-to-date information on market trends and emerging technologies. Our Expo program, held at more than 40 locations across North America, provides our dealers with accredited seminars taught by leading manufacturers and industry experts.
Burrell: One of the main issues is availability of pricing and information. This is really a concern for the dealer, but greatly affects us as well. Dealers and end users are becoming more and more informed as they have a wealth of knowledge available at their fingertips. In an effort to help control pricing, we focus on partnering with manufacturers that do not offer products online that compete with us and dealers for market share.
Deciding which manufacturers to partner with is also a challenge we put a lot of focus on. We are selective of the ones that will allow us to provide better support to our dealers as this is key to our success.
Holzer: Most jobs involve a multitude of lines in order to do a complete install. The challenge is to constantly evaluate the market and add new lines to ensure you are offering the latest and greatest state-of-the-art solutions. Considering there are really only two security shows a year in the U.S., this can be a time-consuming process. It involves a lot of legwork before, during and after those shows to make sure you are keeping up with the market.
McClary: The cyber threat has, with-out question, become the most urgent challenge confronting the physical security integration community. Meanwhile, commoditization of IP cameras is threatening the physical security industry’s traditional, cost-up contracting business model and creating new opportunities for IT managed service providers.
Today, the monitoring and managing of systems’ performance has become as important as the initial design and installation. The business advantages of the managed services model are attracting many IT MSPs to expand their range of services to include physical security.
Ream: The Internet is a great tool but is also a concern for price-sensitive customers. We feel our knowledge and service give us an advantage over the Internet.
Hamberis: The consolidation of both resellers/integrators and manufacturers can be a challenge. With many of these consolidations, relationships can be swayed and often new negotiations and pricing pressures arise. In addition, just having lower standard pricing points in the market can be challenging, as we have to sell and transact more business to do the same revenue volume.
What tools does your company deploy to better serve your dealer/integrator customers?
Burrell: We start with our sales reps being encouraged to build relationships with our customers. This allows us to get to know the customer and identify ways to improve our service. We know our customers by name and we know what products they purchase. We are actively working to add more communication tools to allow the customer to communicate more effectively with their sales rep; we will be rolling out some of these in the near future.
Hamberis: ScanSource provides on-line ordering; EDI capabilities; and our customized SNAP tool, which allows for product selection, the review of manufacturer datasheets, warranty information and helpful calculators that enable them to ensure the solution they are installing is the right one for their end user. In addition, through our On-Demand tool, we provide in-depth product reviews and information so our partners are well-versed on the options available to them.
Holzer: The most useful tools we offer to better serve our dealers and integrators is regular training, just-in-time inventory and, in general, our breadth of brands and product categories.
Ream: We have a staging area to allow customers to secure what is needed for their projects and be shipped partially or complete to help manage cash flow. And at our office’s anytime will call, customers are issued a code that allows them into a secure pickup area. Another tool is the AHS Door Survey application, which performs accurate surveys and sends the quote request directly from the app, including pictures.
Alvarez: JLM helps dealers/integrators manage inventory and timely deliveries by eliminating the hassle. Once a schedule is approved, we coordinate any shipping instructions — whether it’s going to the dealer, their customer or split between the two. We also offer fast lead times and have three distribution centers to efficiently serve dealers’ needs.
Cardazzi: ADI’s Systems Design and Support Team is comprised of trained specialists proficient in all key technology areas. Whatever our customer’s needs, these experts can help them offer complete, integrated systems to their customers. Rapid Ready is ADI’s new 1-hour pickup service designed to help our customers get the products they need for their next project quickly.
Our Project Registration Program, in conjunction with key vendor partners, helps customers build complete systems at a lower cost. Finally, if a customer’s purchase includes products that can be preprogrammed, IP Programming Services is offered to save time and money by having devices ready to install.
Howard: Security camera staging is offered by Jenne to ensure that all preliminary configurations, licensing and labeling have been completed for product shipments, which enables resellers and integrators to rapidly install systems on their customers’ networks, or as a standalone unit to help save programming time and resources upon delivery.
Jenne can configure camera IP addresses and populate spreadsheets; apply a name to the camera; label shipping boxes with appropriate locations; assign passwords to cameras; and perform other custom programming.
How do you build dealer/integrator relationships so they trust product recommendations and advice?
Cardazzi: Very often, our customers will come to us with issues they have with products and technologies before they reach out to the manufacturer. To assist the customer quickly and effectively, we continue to focus on educating our sales team so we can help our dealers with their concerns and, more importantly, guide them to areas of growth for their business. Our customers are first and foremost to us, and showing a high level of dedication to the growth of their business helps build a long-lasting partnership.
Holzer: PowerHouse Alliance members build dealer and integrator relationships through training, training and more training. During distributor member-hosted education sessions, we introduce products and show dealers how they work. In many cases, we also give attendees the opportunity to take products home and demo them in their own environment in order to maximize their understanding and comfort on their own time.
It’s also important to give training participants exceptional deals on test products so it’s not as though you are forcing products on them but instead giving them the opportunity to test them out and learn what makes them exceptional.
Burrell: One word, experience. Dealers are looking to build relationships and get advice from a person who has been in their shoes. In my 23 years in this industry, I have been in all aspects of it from pulling cable to helping design products with a manufacturer. The Systems Depot is focused on employing industry professionals with experience to help build these relationships.
Hamberis: At ScanSource, our goal is to serve as a trusted advisor to our partners. We do that by ensuring our sales and technical teams are highly trained on the products and solutions we deliver. Our teams work very closely with our partners to best understand their challenges and opportunities so that they can best meet the needs of their end users. We have also worked very hard to develop education and training offerings that help partners be more effective, efficient and informed. By delivering exceptional support, tools, programs and solutions, we hope that our partners will trust that we all have their best interest in mind.
Howard: Jenne builds relationships by consistently performing the basics, while being a reliable resource and efficient on the manufacturers we represent. We feel we best serve our manufacturers and partners by having extensive knowledge of the product and programs we support. We have built our security line with product that is top quality and provide our integrators the opportunity to secure business and maintain profitability.
Also, we are supporting many of our traditional voice and data resellers as they expand into the security market. Loyalty has been derived by working with our partners to increase their product offerings, revenue, and profitability.
Alvarez: We build dealer/integrator relationships by working closely with our customers and by providing them with the best customer service possible. Our sales team makes building strong customer relationships a top priority. They’re willing to go above and beyond in order to meet customers’ needs and guarantee satisfaction.
Ream: We came from the integration business so we have installed and used the products we sell. For example, our building uses wireless locks and browser-based access control.
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