I can't talk about 20 years ago, as I was not a part of the profession back then, but here is an interesting tid-bit that should bring back some memories to some.
I asked a sales rep in their 50's what it was like being is sales before cell phones/car phones, a few years back, as my phone was always ringing or getting an email/text. They said they were constantly stopping at Pay Phones and would be at Pay Phones for long periods of time.
IPVMU Certified | 07/08/14 02:43pm
I have to figure 'internet price shopping' is a huge difference.
Price comparison used to be asking for three quotes, and seeing who offered the lowest of the three. Now it is asking for three quotes, then sitting in front of a search engine to see how much markup is being added to each element.
Bosch Security Systems Inc.
I know we make fun of end users for being uneducated a lot on this forum, but the reality is they are way ahead of where they were 15-20 years ago because of the proliferation of the internet.
In addition to having the Internet as a resource, buyers today are generally much more knowledgeable of technology in general through their experience with computers, digital cameras, home networks, etc. 20 years or more ago it was rare to find a buyer who knew what a "pixel" was or who understood "bandwidth". Today it is rare to find a buyer who isn't at least somewhat conversant in these topics. Also keep in mind that unlike 20 years ago, buyers may be on their second or third security/surveillance system and know specifically what they like and don't like.
As much as we hate to admit it, our technology has more or less become a commodity and most consumers no longer need a sorcerer to decode its mysteries.
I think one of the changes in the security world is similar to that of the general IT world. Not just a commodization, but a lessoning in expectations in quality, either consciously or subconsciouly. The old 286 to 486 computers were very expensive for their time, but they were generally pretty tough and lasted awhile at least functionally, if not practically. They were generally more durable than the computers of today. But then over time component quality and endurance started to take a back seat to low cost and they just don't last as long or have higher out of the box failure rates.
With the Internet and flood of ads for cheap components, security customer expectations have turned heavier towards low cost. Even if's it's not the cheapest system, they don't want it to be too much more expensive than the stuff they see in box stores.
First of all, thanks for the memory lane posts above.
The biggest change I've seen is that knowledgable and strategic sales professionals are now held in much higher regard, while our technology might be considered commodities. Twenty years ago, one might argue that sales people were commodities because the sociable guy who had a nice expense account won a lot of business, regardless of their knowledge. That doesn't work today (maybe sometimes, but rarely).
Customers have to be on top of their game today because their peers and their bosses can find basic info with an online search. Twenty years ago, they could hold that info as a mystery, and they had to rely on the expertise of their sales people ... who didn't really have to know too much because they had the "relationship" and weren't held accountable to the truth until after the sale. Today, those types of sales people are not employable.
I think Brian and Michael S. nailed it above.
As the breadth of technology increases and most integrators dont have the day to day visibility, leaning on your Distributor partner has become more of a practice. Even the consultant community utilizes a Distribution knowledge, as it assists them in providing the best solution, as opposed to the old "cut/paste".
I agree with Brian above, many end users have no experience but use the knowledge of others to promote their internal net worth.
From my perspective, I can see that there are more competitors doing the same thing. Security was not as “hot” 20 years ago. 9/11 changed a lot of that. Now your infrastructure / data guys are all selling security solutions.
Commoditization of certain products for sure. IP cameras are one product for example. It seems like every major electronics manufacture is selling their flavor of IP camera. The good thing is that there are so many options that it is overwhelming from someone outside of the industry. Buying one or two cameras is one thing, deploying 200 new IP cameras is another. Customers have to be on top of storage and bandwidth and camera types etc… So for this, I still see the need for your typical security sales rep to really step it up into more of a technical sales consultant more than a product pusher.
Your college grads make great inside sales reps – cold calling with enthusiasm… but if you’re up against someone(s) on a project, you better have you’re “A” game.
Today, you better know your competitors product better than you know your own.