Editor's Note: Don’t Hesitate to Educate

May 18, 2015
There’s only one way to become the trusted advisor that your customer is looking for

As the dust settles after two of our industry’s best educational events — ISC West and PSA-TEC — I am struck by just how diverse and important these educational opportunities for security dealers and integrators really are. The question is, are you taking advantage?

If you didn’t, the good news is, there are plenty of more opportunities for you in 2015: ESX, ISC East, Securing New Ground, Honeywell Connect and more — in fact, there are plenty of distance learning opportunities available for the travel-challenged (all you need are a few good Google keywords); and, ahem, there’s always your friendly trade magazine and website (cough cough, wink wink).

That said, if you aren’t taking advantage of these annual or monthly opportunities, you will surely be left in the dust. I literally just got off the plane from PSA-TEC, held just outside of Denver. Just considering the amount of education available, coupled with the willing help of some of the nation’s top integrators, it was a treasure trove of information.

One of the prevailing themes among those integrators was the need to become a trusted advisor to your end-user clients. Sure, most of us have all heard that mantra before —  so much so that it has become something of a cliche — but the fact is, cliches are based on universal truths. And the truth is, a customer that considers you a trusted advisor is a stick customer; a customer that is willing to pay a little more to receive that peace of mind. Think about it: As a customer, are you always looking for the cheapest possible sushi bar? You know, the all-you-can-eat special with no customers inside? Or, are you willing to pay a few extra dollars to choose a trusted sushi joint? No matter what your head says, I promise that your stomach is picking the trusted source!

“It’s the customers where you are a trusted resource; an ally —those are the customers who you can make the most margin on,” explained Brent Franklin, president of Unlimited Technology, at PSA-TEC’s ‘State of the Integrator’ panel. “Overall, it’s the customers who we truly partner with.”

Is your company moving away from “hanging technology” and to actually solving problems? The fact is, doing so is impossible without the proper education as the foundation. How can you be a trusted advisor to a utility company, for example, without intimate knowledge of the rules, regulations and general risk profile of such a company?

“We have vertical market and subject matter experts,” Franklin explained. “We take a team approach to that and that’s how we attack new business. One of the challenges of (chasing) regulated businesses is that you have to be educated and have subject matter experts just to have conversations with the customer.”

Of course, that means it’s not just the president or the general managers who need to get educated. So too do your sales team, techs — everyone who faces your customers. “It’s all about education, credentials and just being that trusted advisor to your customers,” said Allan Wick, CSO of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, on a separate PSA-TEC ‘State of the Industry’ panel. Wick is also a prominent member of ASIS. “When integrators are selling new customers, they need to have something to fall back on as to why they would choose you. My integrator does charge more for consultation, and I’m willing to pay for it.”

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I) magazine: www.secdealer.com