Working Efficiently in a Tough Economy

IS THE GLASS half-empty or half full? Is this a recession or a market correction? We’ve hit on a common theme among these well-known integrators—the perception of a recession, real or not—is causing users to keep spending to a minimum. SD&I went...


IS THE GLASS half-empty or half full? Is this a recession or a market correction? We’ve hit on a common theme among these well-known integrators—the perception of a recession, real or not—is causing users to keep spending to a minimum. SD&I went to five national systems integrators to ask them critical questions in dealing with sales goals and strategies in a downturn. Here’s what they had to say.

What are the biggest sales challenges you and your team are currently faced with?

Patrick M. Egan, president, Kourt Security Partners, LLC d/b/a Select Security, Lancaster, Pa.
Perception of the depressed market, more so than the actual market, has paralyzed decision makers. Because of this, project timelines have been extended and overall scopes of work have lessened. 

Martin Guay, president, Niscayah Inc., Duluth, Ga.
In a difficult economic environment, our customers need to find ways to meet their organizational objectives. In most cases, the primary objectives are maintaining a reliable security posture while validating streamlined and effective security operating costs. Customers will not have capital to expand or to replace their systems but will need to continue to expend operating expenses to manage their security systems effectively. We need to sell into the customers’ needs and challenges. This will take a long term attitude and focus.

Bill Bozeman, CPP, CHS and president/chief executive officer, PSA Security Network®, Westminster, Colo.
The overall downturn in the economy has obviously had a negative impact on capital expenditure spending. We’re dealing with customers who are tightening their purse strings. Although some analysts feel our niche, physical security, is recession proof, I disagree with them. I think we’re luckier than most but we’re not recession proof and I would say the majority of integrators have felt the pinch. 

Carey Boethel, CPP and senior director, Security Solutions, Siemens Building Technologies Inc., Buffalo Grove, Ill.
During down economies, companies tend to shift their focus toward managing sales prospecting activity rather than focusing on capturing quality revenues. However, managers need to be careful not to shift focus away from their longer-term strategic initiatives, creating value for the customer, and training, coaching and development of the sales force. 

Richard Rot, district sales manager for Chicago, Ill., Stanley Convergent Security Solutions Inc., Naperville, Ill.
Perception is the biggest sales challenge to overcome. In today’s business world, sales people are bombarded with stories about how bad the economy has become. At first, negative stories about the economy can appear to be an obstacle to a sales person’s success. However, the reality is that in challenging business times customers need security solutions more than ever. Customers need help to reduce their security risks, asset loss and operating costs. Whether the increased risk comes from staff reductions or external crime, companies want to collaborate with a security provider that provides cost savings and security solutions paired with outstanding customer service.

How do you think you can solve these challenges? 

Egan: Urgency and education are two ways to solve these challenges. Create urgency with “buy now” incentives and be more flexible with down payment and installation options. Educate the decision makers on the positive economic signs that still exist in their industry. (If there are none, skip trying to sell to that industry.)

Guay: We need to sensitize all of our personnel to work with our customers, in a consultative fashion, to reduce their spending. The only way to accomplish a “win-win” is to organize the solution differently. There will be little or no capital available to implement new or expanded systems. We need to help our customers rationalize their legacy investments and to reduce their spending on their systems operations and systems management.

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