Leading Integrators Discuss Partnering and Selling Value

Oct. 27, 2008

An integrator may pride themselves on being a “Jack of all trades,” but maybe that does make them a “master of none.” Sometimes they just can’t do it all alone and get the results they need for a satisfied customer and to fuel referrals. That’s especially true as the market moves to more technology driven systems and services. Here’s what the integrators we tapped had to say about partnering and adding value.

Who are you partnering with and how does this add value to the services you offer?
Becker: Because of all the convergence going on in the communications world we are able to provide many different solutions from a single, standalone system to a surveillance design for a school campus or a group of government buildings. Having divisions within our company provides us with the ability to meet the needs of a wide wide range of clients.

Brummett: We really have three different types of partners we look for: those who can provide value-added services which are built either on the IT platform such as voice, data and network infrastructure or who provide various “needs assessment” security consulting services; partners who are at the design phase of new construction projects and can specify product and/or subcontract the security portion of the project; and finally, those who can assist in the networking and marketing side of business development.

Gonatos: We partnered with builders before the downturn in the construction market. Now we have moved onto working more closely with large corporations where their needs are for access control and key fob and proximity systems. Working in these new areas allows us to diversify.

Kruglak: We are currently partnering with the firms that install our cabling systems.

Nelson: I partner with builders, electrical contractors, architects and engineers. Partnering allows us to be more involved with the design phase, and that allows us input into the specifics of what products and services will be used.

Where have you reached for partners and how do you build these relationships?

Becker: We get involved with different industry events such as ISC and organizations in the IT world which provide us with the ability to network and become affiliated with a larger group of our target market. In our other divisions, like information, the involvement comes directly from the manufacturers who have dealership programs. We look for manufacturers that have that high level offering—everything we need for a full-service solution.

Brummett: There are a couple approaches we employ. One is called seek and sell. We define this as seeking out the potential partner and then selling them on why it is in their best interests to partner with us. The other approach we use to build relationships is through professional paid introductions.

Gonatos: We are pursuing large developers, interior designers, architects and builders that deal primarily with commercial development. Of the many partners we have had, many are switching markets and putting their efforts into commercial rather than residential. We research companies thoroughly to assess the potential for a good fit.

Kruglak: We have done some preliminary outreach to the IT firms. However, we view them as competitors who are venturing into the market without a real understanding of the security environment, including building codes, etc.
Nelson: There isn’t a one-step, single approach to building relationships. A lot of our relationship building over the years has been by getting to know people and understand their needs. This keeps a good foundation of contacts with you as they move from one company to the next.

What do you consider value-added services that are important to the customer?

What we feel adds value for our customers is our internal design and project management services. We like to get involved upfront in the design process with the owner, the architect and the construction management company because technology impacts their operations greatly.

: Generally our customers see considerable value in having integrated burglary and video monitoring services. As far as non-security related types of value added service, we find having a strong partner for IT platform products and services is a plus. Virtually all of the security products we sell today are built on an IT platform, so you really have to invest in those kinds of people.

: Monitoring is a value-added service that customers appreciate. Instead of just selling an installation and leaving, there definitely is room for recurring revenue and relationship building.

: In the security industry, the success of any integrator is based on the development of a relationship. The value-added service that Genesis provides is that we perform for the client and don’t make excuses. Another value-added service we provide is consultative selling, providing them with the right advice and helping them avoid making the wrong purchase decisions.

A value-added service for us is our central station which allows us to go into every project with the goal of having a long-term relationship. Our projects are not just construction projects. We work to make sure everything comes together correctly from the contractor all the way down to the end user.

How important is marketing and what are some of your strategies?

Marketing is very important. There is a lot of noise out there coming from not only other integrators but from manufacturers. Our strategy is simple—show customers we are ‘tried and true.’ We prove this to them every step of the way but especially in the end product--we show them what the end results will be. When we leave a job site you can count on us and rely on us, as we will continue to support the customer even after the installation.

: Marketing is where it all begins, or ends. We have utilized everything from telemarketing, direct canvassing, direct-mail response, radio, TV, newsprint, trade journals and Web-based marketing including links to client video testimonials. We also employ our law firm and a local lobbying company to make key introductions to decision makers at the local and state government levels as well as key C-level management personnel.

: Marketing is extremely critical in any industry. We get as much of our business through referrals and this works as an important growth strategy for us. We send out thank you notes after each installation asking for a referral and we generally get a high percentage of those returned to us that turn into new customers. Another marketing plan that works is getting involved with the community and sponsoring events. Our marketing efforts, which have been successful, definitely start from grass roots.

: Our marketing is designed to position us as a security integrator that delivers solutions without excuses. Our strategy is simple: work with our clients and have them tell their friends and prospects about our capabilities. Combined with press releases and articles in different trade magazines, this has been an extremely effective marketing tool.

We are a referrals-based business. So word-of-mouth, our reputation and our relationships are some of the best marketing tools.