Member Discussion

How Do Integrators Differentiate Themselves?

From the outsiders' perspective, integrators look the same. The view is that they pretty much do the same thing, represent the same manufacturers, have the same pricing, etc. (Many times, they employ the same people their competitor did five years ago and vice versa.)

So, how can integration companies stand out from the competition? I'd love to hear from integrators on how they do it, and from end users and manufacturers on what they've seen work well (and not so well).

We literally have a survey report: How Integrators Differentiate Against Their Competitors

Check out the full long report but here are the key themes / summary:

The responses ranged in tone between degrees of 'sales speak' and stark technical bluntness, but most fell across three categories:

  • Skilled People: A majority of responses noted the capabilities and skills of the employees are what separate their companies from the pack. Whether it was education, certification, or deep experience, the most common answer was hiring 'smart people' able to work outside the bounds of 'box solutions'.
  • Smooth Projects: Surprisingly, another common answer was how valuable good execution and project management is to customers. Many integrators noted that bringing many potential skills to bear and using defined project management methods worked well at distinguishing themselves for competitors.
  • Service First: Most integrators see their company's commitment to customers as the simple answer to what makes them different. Simple steps like prompt callbacks to missed calls, ongoing training, and guaranteed service deadlines were common.

These are the key differentiators. The most important question is how much an integrator is willing to invest in developing and maintaining each.

These are the answers I always get when I ask this question in a seminar or during a project with a client. However, if everyone provides the sames answers, then how does it differentiate you?

One obvious way is to actually practice them - not just provide the answer. If you're trying to win a new account, everyone is telling them the same story. I've never seen a PowerPoint slide that says "our service is ok, but we're trying hard to improve it". They all say the same thing about world class service. The customer simply ignores this and usually picks the cheapest or the "devil they know".

There is one aspect of the secuirty integrator that can truly help them stand out from the competition... the manner in which their salespeople run their business. Do they educate or just sell; do they nurture targeted accounts or just do milk runs; do they adapt to their client's personality type or act the same with everyone; does their prospective client feel like they've gained something every time your sales people leave, etc?

Think about it - the most prevalent exposure your potential customers have to your business is probably your sales people. You can talk about your service and people all you want, but your competition is doing the same thing. (No matter how bad they might be, every one has at least one happy client to which they can refer.)

Appearances, Background, Past Projects, Past relationships, Reputation, and ongoing relationships with others .

Service Techs, Installers, How they treat thier customers ( Pay Attention to Detail s)

I have been on many projects were the clients talked about how unprofessional the other previous company was. ( dirty, Rude, disrespectfull, Cussing )

A Must : Neat, Clean, Courteous, Clean up afterthemselves, have respect for themselves and those around them.

I have been in many closets, attics, rooftops where the previous trade did such a bad job as to leave garbage, debries, excess tools, materials all over the place. Like the city Dump.

Very important to have good manors, habits, attitudes towards others while on the projects.

Not tied to the Zombie Phone or Pad , But Attentive towards those around you

I Remember Many Jobs where I was a mess and the project was a dissaster from start to finish, lost way too much money , employees not showing up, details missed in the process.

We just put on the happy face, smiled, completed the project and survived for another project.

That customer became a customer for life and lots of return business.

You remember the experiences of others and attitudes left behind as you go.

Happy People create Happy Customers, Clients for future business.

"Not tied to zombie phone ..." One of the habits I started over a year ago was leaving my phone in the car during meetings. It's made a huge difference. Even if it stayed in my pocket the whole meeting, I still thought about emails waiting for me to check. When it's in the car, I forget about it.