This is a reasonable process map for the BtB sales cycle & pipeline management. It touches on opportunity analysis and sales strategy, where my passion lies. In this piece, I will build the case for a particular business model in the electronic security space, but it could apply to any automated controls business.
Struggling to Build a Footprint in Mature Markets
We are 20 years past the day when cold-calling would discover large numbers of end-users/owners without an electronic security solution. Today, capturing new clients depends on your effectiveness at differentiating the company and communicating a value proposition. I have seen several integrators successfully build a clientele through traditional superior service and relationship methods, but the long sales cycle can be torturous and the start-up investment in a new geographical market may be prohibitive for many businesses.
Creating Demand and Business Development
If a company does not have a component of the sales force focusing on capturing additional market share, it is slowly failing through attrition. From personal experience, I see many businesses that believe sales people build market share by prospecting. This route requires true relationship builders, a trait difficult to find in the majority of sales people.
Market Needs Analysis and Education-Based Solutions Selling
The first rule of Solutions Selling: Find the Pain Points and the Underlying Need. What I find interesting about this approach is: the pain/need is not required to be the buyer’s. This approach with automated systems has been strengthened by the growing importance of Information Systems and Data Security in all organizations. A Buyer of security products/services (i.e. a Security Director), may not be aware of how their systems affect the company’s LAN/WAN, data security, personnel management, or administrative expense. Deeper investigation and discovery can uncover related organizational needs the Buyer wasn’t aware of, hence… Education Based Solutions Selling. Educating the Buyer on Best Practices for security management and system design can make you an integral member of the client’s team and bring you an introduction to the C-Suite for planning and budgeting activities.
Can You Listen?
I had an interesting question from a dealer yesterday, “Do you see growth in demand for integrating access control with video surveillance?” Take a look at an article written for an influential organization in the industry and it illustrates my point, at this link:
A person on our team answered this question with *no* and in-fact expressed the opinion that an access/video integration was unnecessary. I couldn’t help myself. All that ASIS certification study had to be put to use… This was a perfect opportunity to discuss “Best Practices”, not market demand. Video verification of access/alarm events is a key component of security operations and investigations. This has even greater importance on sites that deploy 24/7 manned security. The problem here is, very few security dealers bother to educate their clients to understand the importance, result: low demand! Actually, I could make an even stronger case for access/intrusion integration. Any site utilizing virtual alarm mapping with real-time monitoring could benefit. I specified a system a few years back with such capability and with the addition of a mobile app for the guard service, reduced the school district’s guard force by nearly half with faster response times as a result!
The Frustration of Lost Opportunity
Every presentation, every meeting, every interaction with a client is an opportunity to add value. The “Me-Too” salesperson sells the status quo. The salesperson looking to find “The Underlying Need” not recognized – via training and experience IS the market “differentiator”. Yes, complexity adds to deployment difficulty and expense, but what is the cost of poor client acquisition?
Using integrated solutions like these, or database integration, or network hardening… all add value with clients that may not know their businesses would benefit from their deployment. Learn their value and recognize the power of “best practices” selling and a consultative approach to new client acquisition!