How to Get Customers to Invest in You

When attending trade shows such as the recent ASIS event

in Anaheim, Calif., occasionally I am able to break away from the madness of the exhibit hall to attend one of the educational seminars. The great majority of those offered are either not geared toward the integrator mindset (often the end user at ASIS), are just not a very relevant or interesting topic, or are being presented by someone who is not that knowledgeable or who is looking to push their own agenda (usually self-promotion). So, as I recommend to everyone, I carefully pick and choose.

One that met that criteria for me was titled, “Speaking Bean: Creating a Proper Return on Investment (ROI) for Security Budgets,“ which was to feature security industry and CCTV guru Charlie Pierce and Steven Oplinger, systems design manager for Integrated Fire and Security, ended up only featuring the latter. I found out later that Pierce had to undergo a heart procedure and was sidelined a couple of weeks. I have communicated with him since and, fortunately, he is up and around and doing fine.

In any case, the description of this session was: “In the best of times, the process of passing a budget request for increased visual, electronic, access, or manual security can be tedious, especially when dealing with corporate accountants. Review in detail the processes and information required to create and promote a proper ROI document to accompany every budget request. Learn how to demonstrate the profitability of properly designed and implemented security.”

Sounds pretty good, right? The turnout was decent but with Pierce’s absence the hourlong seminar took up just a half-hour of time (showing conclusively what a talker Piece can be!). Hey, that actually allowed me to have the time to eat a decent lunch for a change (at these shows, my crazy schedule often dictates I miss breakfast, lunch or both). Still, the seminar’s information was solid and I thought I would share it here with the Under Surveillance faithful. I hope you find it useful. Oh, and by the way, be sure to check the ISC East schedule as I will be once again participating in the Meet the Press presentation. Or, if you are attending, just look for me on the show or at SSI‘s booth (No. 1829).

Oplinger’s emphasis throughout the session was that most organizations view the cost of security as a liability and so the installing integrator has to convince them otherwise. When trying to justify security purchases, he spelled out three reasons why an integrator might fail to get a project approved. They are:

1) Making financially unrealistic requests

– You asked for too much

– You got too fancy

2) The lack of perception of a need by corporate leaders

– You didn’t present the case properly

– You didn’t prove your case sufficiently

– You didn’t present your case to enough points of contact simultaneously

3) No funding available due to timing of the fiscal year

– You waited until the last minute

– You presented it too late in the corporate year

– You didn’t present your case sufficiently

Oplinger, who was an engaging presenter full of energy and eager to connect with the audience, served up the following suggestions to ensure greater success . . .

1) Pretend like it’s your own money. Ask and answer every question you would want to know if it were your own money, such as: A. Where your money was to be used? B. How was your money to be paid back to you? C. When was it to be paid back to you? D. What interest or profit could you expect to see?

2) Prepare a three- to five-year profit/loss chart

– Be honest

– Remember that it is all only projections

3) Support everything with graphics, pictures, summary documents and other easily understandable devices

– Be creative, different and clever to set yourself apart

– Use bullet points, summaries, etc.

4) Spread your proposal around to all concerned to get them on your side

– Provide lots of details

– Clearly explain the purpose

– Clearly define and lay out the benefits

– Even state the cons, including how you will address them

There you have it. So go out there and get more customers to invest in you and your business!

As always, thanks for reading …

Scott Goldfine



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