What You Really Need to Know to Sell Security

Good security salesmen know exactly what to say to size up a job and get the sale.

“Brander Alarm & Electric Inc. has installed surveillance and alarm systems in over 150 banks, municipalities, schools and private buildings in Massachusetts,” said Doug Brander, president of the Hull, Mass., company. “There are eight basic things I ask or do when I sell security that give me pretty much all the information I need to know about a prospective job.”

  • Develop a rapport with the client right from the start
  • Find out what problems they have experienced
  • Try to ferret out any concerns they may have about living with a security system
  • See if there’s an expected budget that must be met
  • Ask how quickly they need their new alarm system installed
  • Work to find out who the decision maker(s) is
  • Determine how committed they are to purchasing a security system
  • Ask the prospective client for referrals

Although the exact formula will vary from salesman to salesman, there are a series of basic questions that must be asked before the job can be designed and the sale successfully made. Whether it’s a home or a business doesn’t really matter as the same questions apply to both. Here’s a detailed look at what you need to know and ask before you make the sale.

1. Develop a rapport with the client—Good salesmanship relies on good relationships. According to Brander, “All business deals are relationships based upon trust. This trust comes from common backgrounds, connections, references supplied and more. Let them know up front it’s OK to say no and avoid wasted time.”

2. Find out what problems they have experienced—It’s important to find out what prompted the prospect to call about security in the first place. Brander said: “This is a time to listen. What else can I learn about their business and its problems? Is there also a problem with theft, vandalism, assault, slip and fall, other lawsuits-legal-insurance issues, employee time and attendance?” queried Brander. “Maybe there is a problem with their existing security provider. Do they have a design? Any plans? If not, are they willing to pay me to provide them with one? This is also a good time to find out about any existing useful equipment and infrastructure.”

3. Find out what their concerns are with having an alarm system—One task a good salesman must perform is alleviating any fears or concerns that a prospect may have regarding the purchase of an alarm system. The client wants to be reassured that the proposed purchase is a wise decision and in their best interests.

“Are there any areas of concern with owning an alarm system, such as expected equipment lifespan, expandability, inter-connectivity with other systems (integration), other needs such as remote video access, alarm systems, central station monitoring, especially to help protect the head-end equipment?” said Brander.

4. See if there’s an expected budget—The last thing you want to do is frighten a prospect with an extremely high price tag. Asking what their budget is will give you a pretty good idea to what extent you can go and how you must do it.

5. Ask how quickly they need their new alarm system installed—Be upfront and honest with the client on how soon they can expect to have their new alarm system installed if they should decide to buy. Refrain from making promises you cannot keep. The last thing you want to do is start a relationship with a new client on a sour note.

6. Work to find out who the decision maker(s) is—Knowing who holds the purse strings is integral to making a sale. I, myself, made this discovery while visiting with a prospect concerning an alarm system in their home. The sale was essentially lost because I addressed the husband instead of the wife.

With regards to commercial applications, Brander asked, “Is it the facilities manager, the owner, the CFO, the board of trusties? Can we all meet together?”

7. Find out how committed they are to purchasing a security system—Brander said to find out “what other information they need to make the decision. Will this project require plans, specifications and a general submittal package? If we can provide this for you how committed are you to making this happen?” he asked.

8. Ask the prospective client for referrals—This is probably the key to building sales. Ask for five referrals and offer an incentive. One of the sales ploys commonly used in the residential security market involves offering three months monitoring for every monitored account that a client refers to the company, which will be applied to their next monitoring bill.



Allan B. Colombo is an award-winning trade journalist with 38 years in life safety and security. Visit his safety and security blog at www.AlColombo.us or contact him at abc@alcolombo.us.