Good question. I'll refrain from this one but am very interested to hear responses. I've also added a poll below:
Chesapeake & Midlantic
Anyone who answers "No" or "Don't Know" must be an engineer.
For small to medium sized system sales, the purchasing decision is often made by a single person. In these cases, relationships can be the determining factor in the sales process. People tend to do business with people that they like and trust, particularly when buying a product that they have little or no technical knowledge of.
For most large systems sales, a team rather than a single individual often makes the purchasing decision. Having a good relationship with one or more members of the team can help, but relationships alone will rarely get you the business unless your proposal also ranks favorably based on other criteria (price, experience, depth of abilities, etc.)
It is important to remember that most buyers at larger organizations have to be able to justify their purchasing decisions to their higher-ups. Saying that you made a $500,000 surveillance system purchase because "the guy was my buddy" is rarely an acceptable answer.
IPVMU Certified | 06/30/14 06:43pm
Of course relationships are not THE most important thing in security sales, but relationships are very important. Hard to get in my front door unless I already know you. However, when it comes to my RFP's I will talk to or meet with anyone that comes back with a decently thought out quote.
IPVMU Certified | 06/30/14 07:21pm
In the past I believed relationships were the most important factor. I now believe that while it is extremely important to have a good relationship your professionalism (especially in the security industry, you’re not just selling a widget, you're selling a security solution to protect what they hold most valuable) is the most important factor.
Relationships can get you in the door but they don’t always keep you there (or get you good referals); professional sales presentations, communication, appearance and performance of the installation are what make up a good relationship and keep you in the door. I have chosen my friends competitors over my friends because I like what the other guy had to offer and how they presented it. On that note, when my father left an employer over 25 years ago to start his own company, many of his customers followed him because of the professional quality work he provided.
Like Marty said, it is not THE most important factor in selling.
No...Future relationships are.
IPVMU Certified | 06/30/14 07:31pm
Considering that a good chunk of the formal purchasing process is designed to prevent collusion or preferential treatment, I'd say the answer is academically 'not important'...
However, anyone who has responded to an RFP or solicitation knows relationship is at least a factor.
What about the trend? Are sales becoming less or more relationship driven?
Yes, if the question is precisely, "Are relationships the single most determinant factor in winning jobs?" Since so far at least the only other contender for most important factor is technical fit/superiority, let's simply ask, which has the greater likelihood of success?
1. Good product and Great relationship
2. Great product and Good relationship
In my experience number one wins > 75%.
One reason is because from the perspective of the decision maker, the assessment of the relationship is one that they themselves determine, i.e. 'I like Bob, he's down to earth like me, and not a bullshitter. If there is a problem later, I feel like I could say WTF Bob? if I needed to..."
The better product/solution for the job though, is more subjective, and far more dependent on external evaluation of contradictory information.
Since both pitchmen are saying they have a Great Product, unless the deficiencies of the one product are glaring, you will believe the one that you trust more, usually the one you have a better relationship with.
Also, it should be pointed out that although the person with the Great relationship can get undeserved work by using the standard 'full-court press' after 'pulling out all the stops', this will lead to the loss of relationships and therefore is ill-advised... Unless the job is really, really big!
I believe relationships are important, but not the most important factor. I have seen sales go wrong because the relationship lead to the sales person cuttin things to bring the cost down.
I believe that professional relationship should be establish from the get go. thus, establishing through aforementioned relationship a degree of trust.
With ~50 total votes, a pattern is beginning to emerge: integrators find relationships to be much more important than manufacturers.
~75% of integrators agree that relationships are the most important factor in sales but only ~50% of manufacturers agree.
I'd hypothesize that integrators are typically more sophisticated than surveillance end users, meaning that relationships are less useful / powerful for manufacturers. Agree/disagree?
The question of what is "the most important" is subjective. There is no one answer. I voted no in the poll.
There are many possible answers including relationship, price, features, ease of deployment, the abiltiy to solve problems that cannot be solved with existing technology or with the competitors' technology, or it could be the guy who did the most listening and the least amount of talking...that last one often unknown by my competitors, according to my customers.
I think people who say "its all about the relationships" are living in the past, and are often the guys who everyone knows and likes, and are often the ones who buy the fancy steak dinners at ISC and ASIS.
Last, there is such a glut of competitiive product on the market that will compel buying decisions that trump "relationships" in the final analysis.
Bosch Security Systems Inc.
Thought of this discussion today because of an email I received that definitely speaks to relationships being the most important thing in security sales. Remember you can always sell on your own, BUT having lots of other people who can sell for you or who will bring you jobs that they are working on and flip to your brands: As a Rep that is the holy grail.
IPVMU Certified | 04/27/15 10:52pm
In my opinion NO
Relationships get you in the door but, Knowledge, Ethics & Honesty will keep you in the door.
I am new to IVPM but, have been in sales for about 27 years
Absolutely if your equipment and service performance is on par. If not you leave a huge opportunity for someone else to get their foot in the door.