SecurityInfoWatch.com contributing author Bob Harris is managing director for The Attrition Busters and brings over 30 years of alarm industry experience to his dealer business management columns.
There are always those who play the fear card when it comes to generating residential alarm system sales. Recently, one alarm sales story made the news, and judging from the coverage, it elicited significant negative public reaction to the alarm industry.
The story was about a big alarm company that canvassed a neighborhood with marketing flyers. The unfortunate part of the story is that those flyers were distributed immediately after a tragic home invasion had occurred in that neighborhood, a home invasion that ended with the murder of three family members.
Apparently, the alarm companyâ€™s marketing actions made the local news, and we as an industry were faced with an egg on our face that doesnâ€™t wash off easily. And while that egg doesnâ€™t wash off easily, we still have to wash our faces of such actions. I am of the firm opinion that as an industry, we can and should do a better job of marketing ourselves to reclaim the much deserved and hard earned public respect we seem to have lost in many ways.
Letâ€™s face it, the media has not shown our industry in a very positive light in recent years. What does the public hear? They hear about false alarms and police non-response. They learn of unscrupulous alarm dealers providing atrocious service and leaving the homeowner no recourse. Sometimes the news stories tell of excessive delays responding to actual break-ins, and now the poor judgment of one major company which pounced on the neighbors of a brutal triple-murder home invasion. And when these kinds of stories come up, the media is happy to shine their spotlight on the industry. Sadly, these stories blot out the stories of the lives and property we save every day. Sometimes I wonder if we arenâ€™t our own worst enemy!
Whatâ€™s clear is that, still today, many people working in our industry believe fear sells, and perhaps they are correct to some buyers. Many people also believe alarm sales are pain sales. Again, maybe this is the case when it comes to the old routine sales approach.
In the â€œold daysâ€, some personal injury lawyers were known as â€œambulance chasersâ€ because of the way they pursued new clients. I happen to know a number of alarm owners who did a similar thing in years past; they had police scanners in their cars. They sold a ton of systems that way, but in the process also left a ton of money on the table because they were not taking advantage of selling real value.
Motivations Other Than Fear
Letâ€™s talk about motivations. Fear and pain are negatives. Comfort, peace of mind, information, control, safety and relationships are positives. The companies with a local presence have a significant advantage today; thatâ€™s a positive. The advantage is that your employees and your managers all live and work right here in the neighborhood. Your kids go to the same schools and your family shops at the same stores. In other words, your neighborhood is also your clientâ€™s neighborhood. The question is, do you make the intentional effort to create sales from this perspective, and do you creatively mentor your employees to do the same? Are your sales people willing to cold call and knock on doors to simply introduce themselves as a neighbor who happens to be a security professional?
Do you motivate your employees to do the same when they go to the local drug store or dry cleaners? Iâ€™ll bet that very few of the folks your sales people and employees regularly patronize have any idea what they do for a living and how they can be instrumental in helping these people not only secure their homes, but also provide a host of additional â€œadded valueâ€ services that can enrich their lives and provide true peace of mind. The last time I checked, many of the pharmacists, dry cleaners, retail store employees, gas station owners, and just about everyone else you do business with on a daily basis have homes in your area. Every time you and your employees do business with them is creates a wide open door to at least speaking with these people about the services your firm provides. Do your people do this? If so, then youâ€™re on the right track. If not, then think about how you can sell your team on the idea of building business this way.
Cold Calling Can Be Relationship Calling
Many seasoned sales people I know do not cold call. Some of them feel they are above this or that cold calling is a waste of their time. Iâ€™m sorry to say this, but I firmly disagree. After selling a residential system or service, why is it a waste of time to spend a few minutes walking down the block knocking on a few of the neighborâ€™s doors to introduce yourself? Many good sales people generate a respectable amount of business a result. Added value services (guard response, remote video monitoring, etc.), takeovers and even new alarm sales can be acquired this way, without ever stooping to the use of fear tactics.
We all have heard the hinges creak as the door gets shut in a salespersonâ€™s face, but you are much less likely to have the door slammed in your face if you let the homeowner know you just stopped by to introduce yourself after doing business with their neighbor. How else do you keep that door open? Sometimes it can be very beneficial to let the homeowner know that you also live in the area, and that your company also operates locally.
Making this a friendly â€œneighborlyâ€ introduction and perhaps offering a free, no obligation security evaluation on the spot can help to create the beginning of a relationship. If they are not interested in buying from you now, they may well be later. Following up periodically with knick-knacks or postcards just to say hello can be a huge asset when the time comes for these people to consider a security solution. In doing so, you also have the ability to inform them of additional services you provide which may be of interest or benefit to them.
By not selling fear and by offering solutions to make life easier or better, the alarm industry can begin to recapture a positive public perception one company at a time. Grow organically by conveying the most attractive things about your company â€“ those things which differentiates you from all of your competitors. Grow organically by being friendly and personable rather than using fear. Best of all, your alarm firm wonâ€™t be the one griped about on the five oâ€™clock news.
About the author: Bob Harris is managing director for The Attrition Busters. With over 30 years in the alarm industry, he provides seminars, business consulting, and workshops to help great companies become even better. Bob can be reached at (818) 730-4690 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about The Attrition Busters at www.attritionbusters.com.