The security industry is faced with similar challenges that others in the economy are facing right now: reduced profit margins; competition; technology overload; redundant products; and getting and keeping business. To stay competitive it seems as if you are expected to know everything and be everything to your clients. Your clients are placing demands on you and your associates, demands ranging from meeting “government” criteria to dealing a with a well-meaning IT director who must buy into your strategy but doesn’t fully understand the mechanisms that will make it most successful.
To add to this myriad of elemental overload, state-of-the-art technology is constantly beating on your door, requiring time, effort and training to fully implement and “impress” clientele that would only see you as valid unless you jump on the newest software or hardware train. And it’s not just the technology but an entirely new way of communicating that can leave even the strongest of us to wonder, why?
Consider, for one moment the simplicity and value of using the telephone to make contact with all of these individuals and establish early qualifications. In my more than 30 years as a sales consultant one of the most important topics that I discuss with companies around the world is the subject of telephone number placement; where it should be, what it means, and how its existence is interpreted. When a phone number appears on a Web site, collateral piece, mailed letter or even an e-mail a perspective client expects that someone will be available at this number. In addition, those of us that are sales professionals may have issues in determining the best way to reach out to perspective customers. When contact information is shared by a prospect they are expecting you to contact them. So, utilize the information to your advantage.
At your business location it is incredibly important that you take initiative to ensure that the person any potential customer may speak with by phone answers the phone clearly and slowly. They should invite the caller into the business with the right tone and the right level of interest. This level of interest is demonstrated by asking the right questions and having the right person available to talk with; not a voice mail message that says, “I am either on my phone or away from my desk.”
Though the telephone is considered by many as an older means of two-way communication, advances in voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) have changed the telecommunications landscape. VoIP is the next level of communicating – not just the telephone, but the entire platform on which you do business. In fact, some of your industry products and technology are IP directed so the technology is with you.
Telephones are/were digital. Basically, you had a ‘line’ and a phone and you communicated. Now, we are using the IP technology to push more through that ‘line’ – or pipe. Your business pipe now must accommodate all of your voice, packets of information and visual images. The pipe has to be able to handle the amount and type of business and if you need it, it can and it will be measurably faster and bring a level of communication that you need.
So what can you do to adapt? Talk to your customers. Talk to every decision maker – and often. Find out what challenges they are facing in their business arena, learn what their goals are and be aware of how you can help them to be successful through the service (s) that you provide. Talking to customers gives you the opportunity to enhance services provided to them. You will learn that they have plans to expand, or to buy that business down the road. You could even have residential customers who could be valuable sources of information about local commercial opportunities. These opportunities can often fall in your lap by maintaining that dialogue and keeping the lines of communication flowing two way, and often.
Kathy Pabst Robshaw is the president & founder of Telephone Effectiveness Co. (TEC), Fla. For more information, please contact her at