Distributors Deliver the Goods
If the electronic security industry is sometimes a frenetic place, with its fast-evolving technologies and hyper competition, then the distribution channel might well be considered a reassuring force for some.
Dealers and systems integrators of all sizes rely on distribution partners like never before to keep pace with product releases and new solutions-based offerings, IP/networking training, systems design and assorted value-add services. Still, the convergence of physical and logical security, and the network backbones required for its operation, are creating pressures for many dealers to keep pace with the advancing changes.
You, the installing security contractor, can go a long way in meeting these marketplace demands and challenges by pursuing opportunities with wholesale distributors. A proactive affiliation with your distributor could provide the necessary advantage over the competition.
IP Affordability Driving Adoption
Manufacturers receive a lot of credit for doing a much better job as of late explaining the convergence story and making products more readily understood by the traditional installing dealer, but they have a vital cohort helping deliver the message. Working in concert with vendor partners, distributors have become focused on making sure their dealer clientele identify with the benefits of IP-based products and what is involved in leveraging a network as part of a solution.
“A big part of our training we do around the country is making sure the security dealer understands at the basic level why IP, what are the benefits and how to set up a backbone to support whatever they are going to do,” says James Rothstein, senior vice president of Woodbury, N.Y.-based Tri-Ed. “And with our manufacturing partners we help dealers specifically understand how to install these products, how to sell them and, importantly, how to sell the benefit.”
Increasing affordability is one key driver for why distributors are devoting more and more inventory to IP-based products. As the adoption rate rises, the sales conversation is changing for dealers as they attempt to justify a security purchase by discussing return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO). Here, distributors can be of help as well given that making money in an IP world — and a down economy — is something with which many in the dealer community are wrestling.
“Some of them have figured it out. Some of them are getting there and some of them need help,” says Paul Constantine, vice president of merchandising for ScanSource Security Distribution of Greenville, S.C. “There are a lot of services that can be sold in an IP and network environment that weren’t possible to be sold back when everything was analog. Helping those dealers make that transition is something we get involved in.”
There is copious training and education at branch locations, and access to sales and tech support to provide further coaching, but at the end of the day some dealers require a more hands-on style of tutelage. To that end, distributors have begun offering network assessment and configuration services.
ScanSource, for instance, offers network assessment services that include sending technicians onsite to conduct metrics testing of an end user’s network, among other tasks, on behalf of the dealer. “We are really trying to make things like selling IP video surveillance and IP access control in a network world easy,” Constantine says.
Melville, N.Y.-based ADI staffs a system support group in Louisville, Ky., where more than 25 specialists field telephone calls from throughout North America to help the distributor’s dealer base design systems. Although not all inquiries are IP related, the support group answers more than 1,000 calls each day.
“We try to help dealers from the inception of a given project, or at the start of their company to help them become more profitable,” says John Sullivan, vice president of sales for ADI. “We work on getting dealers up to speed and trained, and providing the support they need to be successful.”
Train to Remain Relevant
Many distributor training initiatives continue to offer the bedrock fundamentals of low-voltage skills and analog instruction. All the while, IP and networking instruction continues to grow as the distribution channel plays an imperative educational role.
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