Manufacturer Sales Pitches Revealed

By John Honovich, Published Dec 02, 2014, 12:00am EST (Info+)

IPVM sent a 'secret shopper' to ISC East 2014 to talk to manufacturer sales reps at their booths. We wanted to understand and contrast how they pitched to a prototypical end user.

Would they follow the stock company line? Would they go off script? Would they attack their competitors? How would they make the case of why to choose them?

4 Questions Asked

Our secret shopper explained that they were looking for a ~20 camera system.

Each manufacturer was then asked the same 4 fundamental questions:

  • "What's the 3 biggest reasons to choose your company?" - Goal: to see what they emphasized as competitive differentiation.
  • "My boss has suggested buying a kit online. What do you provide that they don't?" - Goal: to determine how they positioned themselves against low-cost commodity offerings.
  • "Someone on the floor told me about this company named Hikvision. What do you think of them? How do you compare?" - Goal: to understand how manufacturers are dealing with the growing presence of Chinese manufacturers.
  • "Where do you recommend I buy your products? Can I get them off Google shopping?" - Goal: to see how much (or little) manufacturers supported the traditional integrator channel.

Manufacturers Covered

We 'secret shopped' 12 manufacturers including:

  • Avigilon
  • Axis
  • Bosch
  • Canon
  • Exacq
  • Genetec
  • Milestone
  • Mobotix
  • Vivotek
  • Panasonic
  • Pelco
  • Samsung
  • Sony

Note: Acti, Arecont and Hikvision did not have booths at ISC East 2014 and, therefore, were not included.

Key Excerpts

We received many fascinating responses. Here are a few of the most intriguing:

  • "They all suck."
  • "The Cadillac of IP Cameras"
  • "The most intelligent product"
  • "The premier camera company ever."
  • "Most user friendly on the market."
  • "Best image on the market."
  • "[Our company name] is like saying Jello'"
  • "They don't take cybersecurity seriously."
  • "They are full of malware."
  • "The Apple of IP solutions, others follow."

Universal ******* ** *******

*** *** **** ***** *** ************* questioned ****** **** *** ***** ******* the ******* / ***********. ******* *** shopper ****** **** **** **** ** end **** *** ****** ************ ***** buying ******, ***** ************ ******* ****** through ** **********. **** **** ************, and ********* ***********, ****' *** ******* that ***** '***'* ***' ***** ********, and *****'* *** **** ****** *** 'not ********* ******."

More ********** **** ******* *********

**** **** **** ******* **** ********** than ***** ******* ********* ********. *** example, ***** ****** **** **** *** "The ******* ****** ******* ****", ********* that **** **** "*** ******** ** IP *******", *** **** ******* **** they *** "*** ***** ** ** solutions, ****** ******."

***********, ******** **** **** *** **** their ****** ** **** ******** ** our ******** ***** ***********.

********

"**** *** ****" - ******** ***'* blunt ********** ** *** ***********.

********'* *** *** ********* *** *********, though ********.

*** **** ***** ******** ****** **** 'doing **********' (*.*., *** ** *** solution) *** ****** '*** ******* ***** of ** *******'. *** ***** ******* was ********* / ************. *** *** secret *******, ******** ********** ***** *** microdome.

**** ***** ***** *********, *** ******** rep *** ***** *****, ********* **** 'they [********] **** ****** *******', ******* out ***** * ** **** *********.

****

*** **** *** ******* ** ***** positioning ** *** ********, ******** **** they **** *** '******* ** *** industry, **** **** **** *** '***** of ** *********' **** '****** ******', and **** **** ******** *** ** camera.

*** ***** **** ***** *** ***** openness, *********** ***** **** ************ *** development ********, *********** **** '**** *** closed.'

********* *********, *** **** *** **** that ********* ** '******** *** ********' but **** *********'* ******* ** '** comparison' ** ****. *** **** *** acknowledged **** *** '*** ** *** [priced] ** ******' *** ****** **** they ****** ** ** **** ******* and *******.

*** ********* ****** **** **** *** on *****. *** *** ********** **** they '***'* **** ******', ***** ** technically **** ***** **** **** ***** to * ******* ****** ** ************ but ********** ***** **** **-**** ** anyone. *** **** ****-********* *** *** Axis *** ********** **** '***** ***'* buy', **** **** **** ** ** through *********** *** ********. ***** ******** surely ********** **** *******, **** ** simply *** *******, ** *** ***** can *** ******* * **** ***** of ****** *********.

*****

******* ** ******* ****** ** *******, Bosch's *** ********** ***** ****** ** storage ********, ***** ** ******* '********** the ***' *** *** '****** ** the ********'. ***** *****'* ****** ** ISCI ****** ** ****, ** ** limited ** *****'* *** ******** *** has ***** ****** ***** ***.

**** ***** ***** *********, *** ***** rep *******, ****** **** ********* *** 'just * ******' *********** ** ** built-in ********* *** ******* ** *****'* cameras.

*******, *** ***** *** **** **** their ******* *** *** ********* ******, which **, ** ******,*** ****.

*****

*** ********* **** *********, ***** **** ****** *****'* *****?

**. *** ***** *** *** *** bring ** ********* ********* ** ***, only ********** ********* ** **** ** a **** ** ***** **** *** partners **** **** (**** ********** *******). Indeed, *** *** ****** *******'* ***********, they *********** ***** ** ******* ********.

*****'* *** **** **** ********* *** for '***** *******', *********** *****'* *******, relationships, *** ********.

*****

***** ******* ** *********, ******* **** they **** *** '**** **** ******** on *** ******' *** **** ****** could ** *********** ***** *** ******.

*******

******* ******* ** '***********', *********** '*** interface', * '****** **** ** *****' that *** ****** *****, ****** *** LPR *** ** ***.

****** **** ** ********** *********** *** reliability, ****** **** **** ** **** 2 ****** ** ***,*** ****** *******.

*********

*********'* *** *** **** ********** **** 'open ********' *** ****, ********* *** incorrectly, '**** ******'.

******* ***** ***** ** * ****** manufacturer, *** ********* *** *** ******** hard ** '********'. ****, *** *** cited *,***+ ******* ********* *** ***** conformance ** ****.

******* ***** *** ***** *** "#* global ****** ***** *** *****.' **********, this ******* ** *** ******** ** only ******** ********* (***:******* / ********* *** ******* **********).

*************, ******* *** ******* ***** ** the ******* *** * ** ****** system, *** ********* *** *** *** pitch *********'* ******** ***/****. *******, *** *** ********** **** being ******** *** ****** '*** ******** options' ****.

*******

*** ******* *** **** **** *****:

  • "*** **** ***********" / '** ***** into *** ******"
  • "**** ** *******" (****: ** **** really ********** *** ** ****** ******? This ** *** * ***.)
  • *** ******* **** *** ******* * analog *******

** ********** ** ****, ******* ********** their ********* *** *********** ******** * 9 **** ******* ****** ****.

******** ** *********, ******* **** ********* was ****** **** **** (*****, ***** many **** **-***** *********) *** *** as **** ** *******. ** **********, Mobotix ********** ****** ********** **** *********, ability ** ******* ****** *** ***** power ***********.

*********

*** ********* *** ******* ** ***** quality, ******** **** **** **** "*** Cadillac ** ** *******" *** ****** that *** **** '*** **** ***** from ******* *** ****'. *** *** also ***** **** *** ****** **** coming ***.

*** *********, *** ********* *** ******* that '**** **** **** ** *******' and *********** ******* **** ********* *** from ***** *****.

*****

*****'* *** ******** **** ***** ***** name, ****** ***** **** *** ******* did *** **** **** ***** *** going **.

*** ***** *** **************** ********** ****, Pelco *** "*** ******* ****** ******* ever', *** **** '***** *** **** saying *****'.

** *** *********, ***** ********** ***** from ********** / *** ** *** that ********* *** '*** ** *** same *****'.

*******

[**** **** ********* ******** ************* ************ *** **** ***.]

*** ******* *** **** **** ***** IP ******* ***** ***** *** ********* chip (******* ***), ******** **** '*** others *** ******'.

*** *** **** **** ******* *** a '***** ******* ** * ***** price' *********** *** ******* ************* ** their ********. *******, *** *** **** claimed **** **** * *.*% ******* rate.

** *** *********, *** ******* *** said **** ********* '**** *** **** cybersecurity *********' *** **** ********* ** cameras *** ** ******. ** ********, Hikvision *** ******* ** '*** *****, not *******.'

****

****'* *** ********** **** **** *** 'the **** ***** ** *** ******', claiming **** **** '*** *** ********* market' *** **** '******** ** ***** a **** ****'

** **********, **** ********** ***** *** capabilities, ***** '**** **** *% ******* rate' *** **** ****, ****** **** or *** **** *********, '**** ***** be ******' ** *** **** ****.

*******

*******'* *** **** ****:

  • ************* ***** *** *******
  • ***** ******* *** + ***** **** low ** **** **********
  • '** ************* ******', ******** ******* **** third ***** ********* *********

*** ****, ********** ********* *** ******* / ********* ** ***************.

*******, *** *********, *** ******* *** hesitated *** **** ********, "** ***'* compete **** ****. **** *** **** in *****. ** *** **** ******." Though **** ***** ** * ************* in ****** (****** *****), ** ** not * ********** ******* *** **** buyers.

Comments (23)

You know there actually was a Hikvision rep wandering around, right? They didn't have a booth, but he was shaking plenty of hands.

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I certainly believe that Hikvision had a rep/s there and would have liked to get their pitch. It just logistically was not easy to find a guy wandering the show floor.

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Good stuff! It still fascinates me to see how bad the big vendors are at talking to or even understanding the typical end user.

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Funny: 4
Did the "secret shopper" leave with a buying preference?
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That wasn't the goal :)

Our shopper did note that Samsung, Sony, Axis, Mobotix and Milestone reps were especially informative / helpful. If they were really shopping, this likely would have helped those manufacturer's causes.

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Were the reps you spoke to employed by the manufacturers or independent manufacturers reps?

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Of the 12, all were manufacturer employees except for Panasonic and Sony.

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LoL on Milestone being an open source! Surprised that secret shopper found him informative!

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Our secret shopper just wanted the Milestone source code :) From their report, it was the rest of the conversation that was informative.

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"Our secret shopper just wanted the Milestone source code"

Hmm...the secret shopper works for OnSSI?

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What an awesome idea for a survey. Well done! This was a super entertaining read. I'd love you to do a blind taste test where you take screenshots from low end Hik and high end mobotix or Axis and see who can tell the difference
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I like that idea! Although there is a whole lot more to what makes a camera good than what one picture would convey. However it would be fun so I am all for it!

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Scott, the blind taste test is a fascinating idea, good call! We'll queue it up.

Sony vs Hikvision, Avigilon vs Axis, there's lots of intriguing matchups.

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and it would be cool to do the blind taste test in two groups. One being Security professionals like people on this site and the other being Joe average who runs a shoe store
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Don't forget Bosch

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Excellent secret shopper exercise. The truth versus perception is often found in the trenches. The questions were perfect, short, direct and open ended.

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This is great! The 4 questions are perfect - hope the vendors are taking notes.

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I hope I am saying this correctly - please feel free to comment if inclined.

In regards to the Bosch rep saying that Bosch products are not available on-line. That is a true statement in that Bosch does NOT support on-line sales of it's products. In fact we try to discourage it and always push sales thru integrators or distribution. I know there are places on-line to buy Bosch cameras, but again it is not an approved procurement channel.

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Lloyd, Thanks for the clarification. Let's give the benefit of the doubt and assume what he was trying to say was "You can buy it online but we will not support it."

I am curious: Does Bosch enforce that strictly? I am aware of other manufacturers making similar claims but, when push comes to shove, you can have some understandably irate end users who had no idea that buying from an online store would mean they are banned from getting support.

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John, I think Bosch does "try" to enforce that rule, but it is obviously a difficult one as at the end of the day, the customer is the customer and they need to be supported, no matter where the Bosch product was supported.

So I personally know that Bosch has tried to shut down on-line resellers by simply asking them not to do it, but to my knowledge there has never been any legal intervention.

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I would like to weigh in just a little. 1st of all, good report by IPVM. A friend of mine in retail used to use me as a secrect shopper from time to time. It was fun. I often asks many of the same questions myself at shows. "Differentiate yourself in 100 words or less" is my favorite question. "Why you and not that company over there?" is the other. I get much the same jargon.

If the manufacturer charged the end user for customer support (similar to what software manufacturers do) that would go a long way towards stopping the buying on-line. There are ways to "encourage" end users to buy from a qualified support person who has already committed the resources. Or is my opinoin a biased one?

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"If the manufacturer charged the end user for customer support (similar to what software manufacturers do) that would go a long way towards stopping the buying on-line."

Close to that, some surveillance manufacturers will only take support calls from authorized dealers (or even specific certified individuals). I started a new discussion here: Which Manufacturers Refuse Support To Non-Authorized Dealers?

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