How Integrators Are Growing Their Businesses With Security Entrances

Three systems integrators discuss how security entrances help their clients meet physical security strategies and objectives.

The need for physical safety is greater than ever. Security turnstiles are part of the conversation, whether in new construction or as part of retrofits for older buildings. For integrators, there has never been a better time to add security entrances to their portfolio.

Ahead, three security integrators offer tips and insights about selling security entrances: Heath Mabe, vice president of business development for Integrated Security Technologies in Arlington, Va.; Sean Crain, president and CEO of Orion Security Solutions in Edmonds, Okla.; and, Joey Edmunds, vice president of sales for Stone Security Salt Lake City, Utah.

Each of these security professionals has extensive experience integrating security entrances of all kinds into their clients’ physical security strategies and objectives.

Invest in Learning Before Selling Security Entrances

Mabe of Integrated Security Technologies feels that only integrators willing to properly train personnel should consider selling security entrances.

“Most of the folks trying to sell these entrances don’t invest in the training. They won’t take their personnel out in the field to train them properly. I don’t think it makes sense unless they’re willing to make the investment and really understand the full scope of the installation, the training, and the investment that it takes to be good and efficient. If they have an installation once every few years, they should defer to a partner that does this as a core business — and we’ve done that for several years.”

Creating Partnerships Is Crucial

Crain of Orion Security Solutions agrees that integrators should focus on what they do best and work with industry partners who have the expertise needed to support installations.

“A lot of companies either don’t know or aren’t confident enough to partner with competent teams of people. It ends up becoming a problem for both the integrator and the manufacturer because when security entrances are not done well, it creates problems for everyone involved. And the client ends up not getting the service and the system that they had hoped for,” Crain says.

Edmunds of Stone Security agrees that integrators should be transparent about working with third parties with more expertise to get the best installation. “A lot of people try to put on the image that they know what they’re doing, but in all reality, they don’t. I think that’s the biggest misconception with so many integrators out there. They’re afraid to partner up with some of their competitors, sometimes, because they don’t want it to look like they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Crain encourages integrators to focus on their core competencies and partner with third parties who have the skill sets to support installations. “There are lots of technologies available in the market, and nobody can be an expert in everything.”

Edmunds adds that there should be no issue working with partners who have invested the time, money, and training to make sure installations go well. “There’s no shame in explaining to customers that we might not be able to do these turnstiles or these speed lanes, but we have a good partner who knows the product and knows the system. I see that all the time.” 

End Users Should Understand Security Entrances

Crain believes clients should be open to receiving more education about security systems. “A lot of clients don’t understand what they don’t know. But I think once they get the education around all the capabilities and the features available to them, the efficiencies and security level gained, it’s pretty much an easy sell because they start understanding the true value.”

Edmunds says some clients might have concerns that turnstiles may be too complicated for their facilities. However, when they see one installed, their worries evaporate. “Everybody feels better once they’re installed. The employees like it, even the vendors visiting the site like it. It just makes the whole building and the campus feel more secure.” 

Taking the Lead on Integration

Mabe says that government buildings, especially, are complex, and being able to integrate multiple technologies is an essential skill. “You’re integrating very advanced technology, understanding the high-level security profile of the government organization and what they need to make their facility secure. It’s not just picking the right portal or the right security entrance, but picking the right integrator is key.”

Edmunds adds there is a misconception that end users aren’t buying expensive products, such as turnstiles. They are, and it’s better for integrators to take initiative and get the training they need to provide needed expertise to users.

“These products need to be integrated with access control systems or integrated with video management software,” Edmunds says. “We’re the integrator, we’re the ones who are supposed to be doing this. Once we started getting trained and certified, the opportunities started to come on like crazy.”

Mabe stresses that it takes time to get efficient at recommending the right security entrance. His company has been asked to fix the work of competitors who didn’t understand the technology.

“We’ve come in behind some of our competition on some half-installed projects where they didn’t set proper expectations with the customer,” says Mabe. “They came in and they sold them something they weren’t properly trained on. We went in, fixed the problem and got a customer for life.” 

Educating End Users on Price

Crain says when customers are hesitant on price, it’s usually because they don’t understand the value of the security products. “We always prescribe to a concept of layered security when we do our designs. Some manufacturers have caused issues with faulty products or support, which is why we stand strongly behind Boon Edam. Obviously, the goal for us is to ensure a product is reliable, will get proper support, and, at the end of the day, provide our customer a robust and solid solution.”

Mabe adds that the core of their business is being proactive with account management and serving as a trusted advisor with clients. “We want to sit with the C-level or government folks when they’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do in the future.  We want to be that consultant arm from a security perspective and weigh out all the options honestly, starting with the perimeter and moving into the interior of the building — whether it’s video surveillance or access control or IDS. Clients come to trust what you’re saying when it comes to security entrances when they see the expertise you have to offer.” 

Getting Client Buy-In With Layered Security Systems

Crain believes many security integrators assume their primary point of contact, such as a director of security, is the decision-maker. However, ultimately, executives on the financial or operations team will likely approve the budget.

“If you understand that, then doing cost-benefit analysis and showing value in different ways becomes a lot more effective. The integrator’s responsibility is to try to sell solutions based on customers’ needs,” says Crain. “Once you do that, cost doesn’t become the only driving factor. People can explain to their executives why they need a solution and then that’s where the sales happen.”

Edmunds adds that if you have a strong relationship with the end user, they’re going to listen if you come up with a product or a solution. “Often end users present the need for a turnstile or speed lane or some kind of Boon Edam product inside their facility, but they don’t know the right word for it. As you listen to them, you know exactly what they’re describing. If you have that relationship and give them a demonstration of the product and show them how this is going to improve their building or campus, they’re going to trust what you’re saying.

Best Practices New Employees Should Develop

Crane says it comes down to integrators selling what they know. “No one’s going to put their reputation at risk for trying to sell something they don’t understand. At the end of the day, if your people don’t understand what it is they’re talking about with customers, you can’t expect a successful sales avenue. We talk to our new employees.”

Crain continues, “We learn about their exposure to security entrances, and then we try to fill gaps. We’ll show them live installs and explain how they work in relation to other systems. That gives clients a comfort level as to what they are getting for their money. But if you don’t do that with your new people and just assume they come walking in with great sales techniques for these types of specialty products, you’re probably missing the boat with regards to what it’s going to take to be successful.”

Edmunds says one best practice is to take new sales reps along when showing potential clients security entrance installations in person. “If we can take the client on a field trip it helps train the sales rep. If we can get them to a site where there’s already an installation, it’s such an awesome experience because that client can rave about the product to another other end-user who is potentially looking at it. Our sales rep, at the same time, learns a lot during the process — what’s good, what’s bad, how easy or difficult it was for them, things like that.”

Mabe reiterates the importance of new salespeople visiting client sites and learning how security entrance technology solved security problems. “We do a lot of federal government work and a lot of times that carries weight with the commercial organizations because they want to do what the federal government is potentially doing from a security perimeter or security entrance perspective. Our biggest success is taking new employees to those client sites and educating them on the problems we’ve solved for those large customers.”

Not all security integrators are built the same. There is a certain rise in the level of professionalism, the level of respect, and the level of competency that end users can get when working with a true valued partner and security integrator that has their client’s best interest clients in mind.


JC Powell is Vice President of Sales, Regional and National Accounts, at Boon Edam.

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