10 Key Skills for Selling Security

Sept. 9, 2014
The better you understand your buyer, the easier it is to close a deal

Some people see sales as a low-end, sleazy role. Who hasn’t made a joke about a used car salesman? The sales professionals and their enlightened management, however, realize that selling is the key, mission-critical role in any organization. If there are no sales, there is no business. But selling is more of an art than a science. And to be the best sales professional you can be, you must hone your art at all times.

Selling security systems has often been seen as a stable business; so sales should flow, right? Well, it is true that demand for security has remained constant as customers try to protect themselves from the many threats to their person and business; however, as those threats become more complex, so do the products and services that protect against them. Because of this, coming up with the perfect sales pitch can be a challenge. Sales professionals today must be relationship driven and have the ability to be consultative throughout the sales process. Strategic products require strategic sales skills.

I decided to solicit input from the top sales professionals in our industry. Together we created a top ten list of the key skills salespeople need if they are to succeed in selling security, fire and life safety products and services.

The first four items on our list come from Chuck Speck, President of Bold Technologies. He emphasizes a critical component of selling that is woven through items ten through seven on our list. Here they are in his own words:

10. Listen! For me personally, and whenever I train members of my sales team, there are a few key principles that I pay particular focus to as we look at key parts of the sales cycle. The one tip that carries through the entire sales process and beyond into customer service is listening. It may sound like a rather common-sense notion, but there is a reason the stereotypical salesperson is the slick-talking provider of lengthy, information-jammed answers and closing lines. By nature, salespeople are typically outgoing and communicate well. As a result, they tend to over-speak and under-listen, filling any silent moment with diatribes of the virtues of their products.

9. Know what you want to ask. Sales isn’t about “winging it” or just talking. Many times, the reason salespeople fail to listen is because they are too busy thinking about what to say next! During the qualification stage of a sale, this can lead to failure to hear key things like why the client would or wouldn’t buy.

8. Ask open-ended questions. What do you mean by that? Why is that important to you? What goals do you have for your business? These questions give the client an opportunity to talk and the salesperson the opportunity to practice the art of listening.

7. Don’t assume. Don’t assume you know where the conversation is going because you have sold something 1,000 times. Listen for telling differences, motivators and objections. Listening and taking the time to understand will take significant time off your sales cycle and conclude with a more satisfied customer.

The next two items on my list come from Scott Bryan, a veteran security consultant now with Intelligent Marketing Inc. (IMI). In his own words he summarized two critical factors:

6. Service sells systems. Products must be easy to use and service. People must service their clients and projects must serve the intended need of the end user.

5. Integrity works. Maintain integrity with everyone at all times. Being honest and trustworthy are the keys to security (and sales).

Relationships count in selling. Sean Grimm, Business Development Manager for National Accounts with Samsung Techwin, placed the emphasis on this point with the next two on the list:

4. Build a rapport. Find common ground between you and your customer outside the business. Become a person, not a salesman.

3. Know your customer. Do research on their company and understand their business before you step foot in the door.  Have an idea in mind of how your product/service can help their business.

I decided to take the last two myself. Being a sales professional for most of my career, I placed the focus on attitude. Here is what I would offer as the top two tips for succeeding in sales in our industry.

2. Get convinced. You can sell only if you yourself are convinced. If you are not sold on the product or service, it will be an uphill battle to sell someone else. Your lack of conviction will scream through.

1. You can always be better. Sales is an art, not a science — that means it is never perfect and can always improve.

Selling security systems requires a depth and breadth of knowledge - both tactical (about the product you’re selling) and strategic (relationship selling at its best). You must understand the psychology of the sale. It is simply easier to sell someone something they want than a defense against something they want to avoid. This is the reason many people are reluctant to buy insurance or security devices. It is not that they don't ever buy these things; however, it is an uphill struggle.

The reason for this is psychological. And it is the same dynamic whether you are a security vendor trying to sell products or services, a CIO trying to convince senior management to invest in security, or a security officer trying to implement a security policy with a company’s employees.

It is also true that the better you understand your buyer, the better you can sell.

An excellent way to improve your sales skills is through sales training. These principles are put into practice through a new and highly anticipated online course for sales skills built specifically for the security industry. SecurityCEU.com (www.SecurityCEU.com) is now offering the Sales in the Security Industry course — a four-hour intense training covering preparation, presentation, proposing and the strategic process. In the final analysis, selling is a critical function that is more art than science. So hone your art!

Connie Moorhead is President of The CMOOR Group (www.cmoor.com), a provider of security training and education services. To request more info about the company, please visit www.securityinfowatch.com/10546338.

About the Author

Connie Moorhead | Connie Moorhead

Connie Moorhead is President of The CMOOR Group (www.cmoor.com), a provider of security training and education services. To request more info about the company, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/10546338.