The ABCs of Selling VMS

Installing security contractors looking to take the leap into video management software (VMS) sales will need to begin with a strong educational foundation. Long-term customer relationships can be built with an instructive, consultative sales approach that positions the integrator as a subject matter expert.

To be competitive in the current security marketplace, it is incumbent upon technology manufacturing companies and systems integrators to build and maintain strong relationships if the organizational needs of end user customers are to be fulfilled.

A meaningful partnership between a manufacturer and the systems integrator begins with education. In the case of video management software (VMS), it is especially important that integrators are properly equipped to sell networked IP-based solutions. Aside from the technology itself, a well-managed sales approach can either make or break any deal — no matter what the size or scope.

When decision-makers in hospitals, prisons, schools, stores and municipalities are in the market for a robust security solution, the final say in a complete overhaul in their surveillance system may not necessarily be based on the lowest price. There are multiple aspects to consider when selling an IP video system, and numerous points to highlight when providing information to a potential or current client.

Let’s take an up-close look at a few areas of special interest, including establishing the client relationship, matching the right product to an end user’s needs, and the educational process.

Nurturing the Customer Relationship Over Time

A VMS system is far removed from a traditional commodity purchase like a DVR box. There are many drivers involved in the decision of which components to choose. These can include the size and scale of the system, the level of complexity required, and the specific elements (from compliance issues to usage patterns) unique to each application for a given market niche. It is because there are so many criteria and decision-makers involved in making a system selection that education is key to engagement.

Illustrating to the customer the true value of an open platform VMS system and its ability to keep people and property safe is, of course, a main selling point for the majority of larger security installations. Indeed, the relationships stemming from an initial sale continue throughout the lifetime of the installation, growing with expansions and the latest technology releases.

An open platform VMS solution provides a flexible and long-term opportunity for an end user, whether working with a few cameras to thousands across multiple geographic regions. Shaping the entire system involves identifying the challenges, discussing the most suitable solution and showing how it can leverage the required features — both now and in the future.

Integrators must understand this is not a “sell and forget” type of deal. Once you sign the contract and install the equipment, you are responsible for keeping the end user up-to-date with the latest technology. You now are their expert resource to solve technical issues, as well as manage system expansions or improvements over time.

Mastering the ins and outs of service that is provided after the installation comes with clearly defined expectations and requirements of the system. What are the maintenance, license, expansion and upgrade schedules? It will also be necessary to keep abreast of the latest innovations in the industry so that you’re offering your customers ongoing benefits.

Open platform systems naturally generate constant interaction, reinforcing continuation of the relationship after the sale as well as the initial deployment. The ability to cooperate with numerous manufacturers resonates well with end users while the sale is being made, and brings delight over time when the rewards of a flexible system are reaped. To help create and increase interest, integrators can really showcase the value proposition that an open platform VMS achieves.

Matching a Client’s Needs With the Right Product

Having a broad portfolio of hardware in order to offer a dynamic solution is a big differentiator. Likewise, a boutique offering has the opportunity to give your company an additional edge in a particular location or market niche. Very rarely is an IP-based surveillance system stagnant. Rather it is continuously evolving, whether clients are interested in adding another site or building onto their network, increasing the number of cameras, upgrading to higher storage capacity or adding video content analytics.

A very large ecosystem exists in the VMS industry and all the right connections are key to a successful deal. You must fully comprehend the extensive ecosystem of an open platform VMS solution in order to communicate to the end user the differences in value between competing systems. Having well trained, educated salespeople and integrators will increase effective selling and implementation.

Be prepared to research the market, gathering intelligence on the verticals to which you will be selling. Do you have a competitive analysis of the IP and analog manufacturers? What are the latest innovations available for this sector? What type of cameras are your customers looking for? What is the minimum required frame rate for their needs? How wide must the field of movement be on the cameras for their ideal installation? Will the operators be onsite, remote or mobile?

When discussing the compatibility between software and hardware, the open platform approach is pivotal to understanding the flexibility of the entire solution. An open platform VMS offers the greatest interoperability between different manufacturers of cameras, servers, storage, other security devices and additional software programs, such as analytics, access control, HVAC systems, point of sale (POS), etc.

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