7 Lessons From a Security Sales Expert

By Carlton Purvis, Published Aug 26, 2013, 12:00am EDT (Info+)

The sales side of the house often takes a back seat to engineering on IPVM. In this interview, we flip that, speaking with Chris Peterson [link no longer available], President of Vector Firm [link no longer available], looking at key issues driving security sales, including:

Biggest Change in Sales

  • ******* ****** ** ***** **** *** Last ** *****
  • *** ********** ****** ** *** *****
  • *** ****** ** *** *** *** Market
  • ******** *** ***-**** *********** 
  • **** ****** ****** ******* ***** *** Engineering
  • *** ** ************* *** **** ****** Everyone **** *****
  • ********* ******* **** *** ********* ****** Channels

** **** ** ** **** ****** an *** **** *** ** ***** every *** *** **** *** ****** to ***** * ****** ************ *** rapport. ****** **** *******. *** ************* **** to ** **** **** **********. **** have ** ******* **** ************ ***** to **** ******. 

"******* ***** ***, ********** *'* ***** to say ***** ** ****** ** ** 'Take **** ** ***** **** * month.' **** ****** * *** ** lunch *** ** **** ***** ** nice, *** *** **** ** ** more *****. ***'** *** ** ******* them **** ***** ** ******* ********** in ***** ************. *** **** ** provide them with *** ********* ** ******** [***** ************] ** go **** ***** ***********. **** **** ****** to ** ** *** ********* *** **** them **** **** **** ** **." 

Burden ********* ** *** *****

******** **** *** ****** *** ********* ** end ***** ** *** ******** ***** more *********** *********. ***** ** *** ** much ** * **** ** ** to ***** ***** ** ********** **** technology ** *** *****. "*** ****** can ** ****** *** **** ** the *****," ** ****. ******** **** misinformation **** *********, ** ******** ***-******** personnel just ****** *********** ** ********* *** ******** director *** **** *** ****** ******* harder *** ****.

The ****** ** *** *** *** ******

******** **** *** *** *** ****** is *** **** ***, *** ** needs ** "**** * ********** **** for *** **** ** ***** ** figure *** ********* **** ** **." This ******** *** ******, *****, ****** site ************ *** ** ************ ********* larger ********* **** **** ***** *****.

** **** ** * ***** ** heard ******** **** ** **********. *** integrator *** ******** * **** *** hotel *** *** * *** ** a ****** ********** ** **** ******. Interested ** ******* *** **** ********** the *** *** ****, ** ******* small ****. ******* **** ************ (*** the ***'* *****) *** ********** ***** out **** ** *** ******** *** of *** ********** ******** ********** *** camera. 

"************* *** ****** ********* ****** ** install *****, ** ** ******* *** find ** ****** *** *** ****** is **** ** ** ** ******, they're ***** ** *** ** *** themselves. *** ***** *** *** ****** relying ** *********** *******. ** **** have * ********** ****** ** ** IT ** *********** ********** *** *** do *** *******, **** ****. **'* just *** ********* ** **********. ** you **** ** **** ** ******** you **** ** ******* **** ******* and ********** *******."

Fighting *** *** **** ***********

********* **** ***** ***** *** ***** products **** **** *** *** *** cheaper. "One ***** **** ****** **, ********** anyone ******* **** ** ** ******** competition, ** **** *** ********** ** bash *** ******** *******." ******** ****. However, "If *** ******** ** ****** ***** it, **** *** ******* ********** ** impressed," ** ****. ** ****, ** is important ** ***** ***** ***** ** comments ** **** **** ******** ******** in * *** ***** ** **** customers. 

**** ** **** ***** * **** relationship **** *** *** **** ******* important.  "* **** ************ **** * customer **** **** *** ******* *** 15 ** ** ******," *** ******** not **** **** **** ****. ** *** service ** ******* **** *** **** a *** ************** **** *** ***********, you **** ** **** **** *** provide **** *** ******* *** *****. 

*******, "** * **** * ********** was ***** ** **** ** ***** face, *'* ******** *** *** ********," because ** *** **** **** ***** that ***** **** **** ***** ***** for *** *** **** **** *** cheap ******* *****, ** ****. 

*** *********** *** *** *****

******** ********** *** ********** ***** ** the ***-**** ******** *** ***** *******, emphasizing **** "********** ******* *** ******** rumors ***** **** ********* *** *** security ********. *** *** ** ************ provide ***** ** ***** ******* ** to *********** ****** *********** ********* ** a ******* *****. ***** *****, ***** ******** information ** ***** ******* ******* ***** is * ***** *********** ** ***. Some ******** – ** ******** ***** the ***** *** ** ******* *** **** *** cons ** ****** ****** *******, ** March ****** *** **** ***** *** latest ****** ** ***** **********, ***. They **** ** **** *** ******* that ***** ******* *******’* **** *** from ****, *** ** ******** ** working **** ****."

** **** **** *********** ****** **** more **** *&* ***** *** ***********. "The ********** **** *** ************* - they **** ******* **** *** *********** community. ************* *** ******** ** *********, but ******* *** ** *** ***** together **** ******* **** *** *********** in ***** *******. ** ** ********** gets ******* ***** **** *** ******* an *********** ******* *** *** ***** specifiers, ******** **** ******* – ********** the *** *****," ** ****. 

Most ****** ****** ******* ***** *** *********

"*** ******* ** ** ******** ** to **** **** ****** *** *******. They ***'* ******* **** ** *** world ** ******** **** ****** ** important ***. **** **** ** ** able ** ******* ********* ** **** and *** ***** ** **** ***** it ***** *******. **** **** ** realize **** * ********** *** *********** **** an access ******* ****** ** *** *******. ***? Because * ******* ****** ** ***** functional," ** ****. 

******** ********** **** ********* ***** **** time ** *** ***** **** ***** people ** ****** ********** ****** *** see **** *** ********** **** **** when ******* ** *** *****. ** also **** ***** ****** ** * designated ****** ** ********** ************* ******* the ***** *** *********** ***** ** addition ** ******* ******** ***** *** two ***** *********** *** ******* ******.  

"***** ** ****** ***** ** ** some ******* ******* ***** *** *********. If *****'* ***, **** ***** ***'* pushing **** ******. *** ******* *** ** manage **** ** ** **** **** they ********** **** *****'* *****," **** Peterson. 

********* ****** **** ** **** ***** that ***** *** ***** ******** *** there **** *** ******* **** **** are ********* ****.  

How *********** *** ************* **********

****** ********, *** ************ **********, ***** are * *** ** ********* ***** similar ****. ** ** ********** **** **** to **** **** ***** *************** *** and *** **** ** **** **** makes **** ***** ***, ** ****. "* *** giving * ******** *** * *** in *** ******** ****** *** **** *** said, '* **** ******* **** ****. There *** *** ***** ********* ** ** area **** ********* *** **** ************ and *** ******** ** **** ** we ***.' **** **** ********* ***'* ********** is **** ***** *********** *** ** the **** ****** *** ** **** *********, but **’* **** ** **** * group **** *** ***** ***** ************** well. ** ****** *******, *** * way ** ************* ******** ** ** make **** **** ***** ****** *** stating **** ***************."

** **** ********* ****** ********* ****** that *** ********* *** ************ ***** their *******. *** *******, ******* ** saying "*** ****** *** *** *****," using ********** **** "** **** * combined ** ***** ** **********" ** highlighting training *** ************** *** **** *********.

Open ** ********* ****** ********

**** ***** ** * **** ****** for * **********, ********* ******** ****. "I advise ** ************ ******* ** ** very **********. ***** ** ******, *** an ****** **** ** *** **** attractive. **** *** *** **, *** it's ***** ** ** **** *********. Then, **** ** ******** ************ *** ******* **** integrator. **'* ********** *** ***** *** too ***, ***'** **** *** ***** to *** ** ***** ** * following," ** ****

** ***** ******** ** ******* *** become **** ********* **** *** ******* to *** ** **** *********** ******. "It's **** ** **** ****** ********," he ****. "*** *** *** ** without ** *****, *** ** *** have ** *** *** *****. ** you *** ***** ***** ***'** ***** to ***** *** *** ****'* ***** to ***** *** ** * ******. But ** ***'** *** ***** *****, it's *** ***** ** **** *** as **** ** ** ***** ** years ***."

Comments (9)

Good read and info.... building strong relationships is key, and I strongly agree with Mr. Petersons main premise.

However, I particularly dislike statements like: ""We have a combined 80 years of experience"

Is that 2 employees with 40 years of experience each, 4 with 20 years, or 80 employees with 1 year of experience each, etc...?

Personally, I would avoid this specific statement. Instead, I would highlight specific experience that is similar in size and scope to the install in question rather than use an aggregate of 'total' experience.

I am not a fan of the X years combined experience claim, though it's better than just saying "Our people are experienced" which is far too common. Your counter recommendation is wordy and harder to convey succinctly in an elevator pitch/marketing doc.

That said, obviously years of experience does not tell it all. Even if you said "Our average engineer has Z years of experience", it still begs the question of how good they are. It's not unheard for a 'younger' organization to be better, especially when technology shifts undermine the value of previous experience.

Hi Marty. My rule of thumb for differentiating statements is to be objective and meaningful. When a salesperson states that his company provides the best service, that does nothing for me. Is it meaningful? Yes, but it's not objective or different - everyone makes these claims. How about stating that your "Platinum Service Program" has a 96% retention rate as compared to the indsutry average of 83%. That will catch my attention.

Thank you for the comment - very helpful!

He also said integrators should work more with A&E firms and consultants. "The specifiers know the manufacturers - they need support from the integration community. Understanding the products is important, but knowing how it all works together will greatly help the consultants in their designs. If an integrator gets serious about this and creates an educational program for the local specifiers, everyone will benefit – especially the end users," he said.

I would just like to reinforce what Peterson says above. We as integrators who have both manufacturing and Architectural hardware included in the proverbial wagon that we sell from, realized some time ago that the more knowledge our customer acquired about what we sell the better our business was. We typically sell the higher end of the price range because in most cases, those are the products with the most features and prove to be the most durable and serviceable. That's not always the case but usually.

For that reason we started a rather aggressive "lunch and learn" program for the A&E community holding a luncheon at least once a month. In the last 18 months this has grown to the point that we now present the same program not only at the luncheon but to two other larger design build architectural firms at their offices on a same or next day basis and now include general contractors in our invitation list. We have so far kept this on the mechanical hardware side of the business but based on the success so far, I hope to expand this to the electronic component world in the next year.

This plan is typically hard to sell to upper management because it has no instant gratification like a coupon add. We had to look hard for any results in the first 6 months. Eventuallywe started getting requests to review specifications or re-write specifications to include some product or idea we had presented at a lunch and learn. Actual increase in sales due to the L&L is virtually impossible to measure because nobody tells you why they buy what they buy. However, in most cases we have a manufacturer or a rep agency presenting and paying the bill so the only cost to our company is administrative costs.

If we could get our competitors to do the same thing we would all reap the benefits.

I echo Undisclosed' comments above. We conduct an ongoing interaction and education program with A&E's partnering with the manufacturers to present. The design firms greatly appreciate the availability of expertise that we represent as integrators and the product lines dicussion from the manufacturers. It's a slow return very much like crafting a reputation. Over time it does indeed present a strong enhancement of reputation and makes your target audience aware of the product and application expertise available to them.

Anything we do to distinguish ourselves from those whose only qualification is cheap prices is valuable. Let's face it - as "integrators" we sell expertise first and foremost.

"They have to be able to deliver something on time and not worry so much about it being perfect. "

Blasphemy!

To elaborate, I know you can over think and installation, which can cause delays. But in my experiance, first impressions are everything. If you install a new system and have problems from the git-go with it, it puts doubt in the client's mind, which creates a challenging atmoshpere with subsequent problems because the client's faith is low so that minor problems seem like big ones.

If it works well from the begining, and something minor comes up later, the client is more likley to dismiss it as an aberation and will have a more amenable attitude about it.

Hi Luis. I agree with you 100%.

My comment was directed more toward manufacturers than it was toward integrators. Specifically, I was considering situations when a sales person might ask for "xyz" modification to be completed by "October 20th" because the customer needs it by that date. Many times an engineer will respond by saying that the customer should be considering "abc" because it's a better solution - even though it won't be ready until "next March". (I'm making up these dates btw.) Sometimes we have to give the customer what they need in their time frame or budget even if it's not the perfect solution. Many times they're under some sort of time or budget restrictions that prohibits them from purchasing the perfect solution.

I'm not saying we should deliver disfunctional solutions (that is the worst thing a sales professional can suggest). However, there is a huge gap between perfection and disfunction, and there are many options within that gap that will greatly satisfy our customers.

With all that said, my comment really does sound pretty bad - I need to watch how I word things... and I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering on top of it all!

Thanks for the comment Luis and enjoy the long weekend.

Explained that way, I agree too and have seen it, and apologize for any mis-interpretation.

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