At the ESX tradeshow a week and a half ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a presentation with Gerrit Brusse, regional sales manager for U.S.A. Fire and Burglar Alarm, and Donald Natale, vice president of sales for Alarm.com. The topic was how the security industry was taking advantage of new technologies for the sales process, and I thought I’d take this week’s blog to share some business ideas with you that the speakers shared in the presentation.
According to Natale, there are an estimated 5 billion mobile phones in the world, and over 1 billion of those are smartphones. That means that your potential customers, he said, are likely to be accustomed to instant access/remote access technologies. He said that in the past, your same alarm customers might have only interacted with the system when they armed/disarmed the system at the front door, or when they picked up an alert that the battery was low. Today, they have the ability to grab their smartphone or tablet, and look over the usage history, check in on the status of the system remotely, turn down their A/C, even check video clips of their security system. Customers don’t tend to “go back” in terms of technology adoption, Natale said, so it’s a requirement that your security company is offering the newest technology with all of the remote service options. One thing’s for certain – if you’re not offering these technologies, your competitors will be, and your sales prospects will be wondering “Why does this company only have yesteryear’s technology?”
Even more important than remote access via a web browser is creating a custom app experience that both simplifies and encourages engagement with the security/automation system. “When you get a customer engaged with a mobile app [for their security system], they are less likely to be an attrition statistic for you,” Natale said.
And while the app and remote services environment seems to have blown up in the security industry, with most of the cutting-edge intrusion systems offering app style interfaces for your tablets and iPads, Natale and Brusse said that the industry still has a lot to learn about using tablet computers for the sales process. From purely a sales management perspective, Brusse said the iPad is a dream come true. Unlike the old sales binders that many alarm sales professionals know so well, the iPad allows him to remotely update sales material if there is a special promotion or an offer change. He says being able to remotely sync sales team members’ presentations creates a consistency of messaging that is important in the sales organization. It’s even more powerful than the binder, Brusse said, because you can load all of the data sheets and information for the products you sell so the sales person rarely has to say, “Let me get back to you on the specs for that product.”
On the sales side, the security industry is taking advantage of tablets and iPads with the ability to demonstrate products. Remember the old boxes you used to carry with the demo equipment set up? Didn’t you like lugging that around? Those units are becoming history, said Natale. His firm will soon roll out a sales demonstration app, and we’re seeing similar demo apps appear throughout the industry. The beauty of such an app is that you can put the system in the hands of your customer, letting them “touch” the system and customize the settings – it’s no longer just a page in the old sales binder where you have to verbally explain to the customer how the interface works; instead, your customer actually touches the system just as they would if they were a subscriber! That change in engagement, he said, is powerful.