July 9, 2007
Sometimes its luck that gets you a sale. But alas, even those of you deserving electronic system contractors who are working your bumpers off, cannot rely on luck alone.
Perseverance, networking, and turning up referrals are a big part of your sales success but you should think about your past sales and what you did to get them. Patterns are probably repeated in how you made many of your sales, and if you can recognize those patterns, you can ensure sales success in the future because you now know how to win. Wont you always keep doing those things? I would. Tim Duncan in San Antonio does. Warren Buffet does.
In business and in life there are patterns of occurrences for us all. Some are dependable such as sun up and sun down. What about your pursuit of sales? You better be dependable as others are counting on you to deliver big, happy news all the time.
What is a pattern you can focus on to create new sales? You can call past clients. You can re-connect with local builders you have met but never got any business from and talk to them about offering simple amenities packages like music, music plus TV, and a few rooms with lighting scenes. What about product? Yes, the gear. Thats a never-ending pattern. Your client will want to know about HDMI, HDCP, 1080p and more so its a good time to brush up on selling gear.
Most likely, at some time in each of your sales, you got into the gear with your client. While it has been said that you should sell your business more so than the gear, products are necessary and a fun part of the sale. I think theres actually been too much emphasis put on the sell yourself aspect of our business in recent years and that we are on the edge of losing system individuality. Thats a pattern we dont want to develop. After all, we are custom arent we?
There are so many products coming out fast and providing the client with new ways to integrate each product and its features into the lives of the happy system-owner family. How do you approach this situation? Do you qualify certain customers to be open to dazzling new products and go for it? Everyone digs fun new toys like sexy remote controls, iPod docks, nearly invisible speakers, and a programmed device to make the lighting wow people and secure the family. But you have to sell what is good for your business, right? You have to sell what your team of project managers, programmers, and installation technicians know how to execute flawlessly or you risk customer disappointment and financial ruin on the jobs profit for your business.
Help from Key Vendors
What is going on in your business with regard to new products? Are your vendors, the ones on whom you depend for reliable and in-stock products and a valuable business program, offering smart products that you arent selling?
Sure they are. Control and component vendors are focused on extending the reach of their line into your business and are continually coming up with new solutions and updates to their proven gear. These suppliers are even looking outward at new technologies such as IP and high-definition video solutions for every nook and cranny in the home. Talk to your customers about some of these cool new technologies before your competitor does to their friends. Why you didnt tell them about a TV that plays in their bathroom behind the mirror or about the in-wall iPod dock that could have solved their multiple-iPod familys dilemma is not a good question to hear.
The remote control guys are doing cool stuff with interoperability and screen graphics to make things easier for your clients and as for the speaker guys, take a close look at CEDIA EXPO at this previously over-saturated category and youll find that the leaders are issuing cool new stuff whether it be in the wall, around the plasma or big bass in small space.
Innovating vendors is a pattern that you need to recognize and bring to your sales process. Once you believe that you have found new products from your vendors that would make sense for most of your clients, get your team together and talk about them. Ask the hard questions about how selling them will change the work for the others on the team. New programming and installation techniques will need to be learned over time and everyone needs to be on board. Find products that will be good for your business and get behind them. And just the same, vet out those that look like they would be good but end up being too difficult to use.
You must sell new technology, but you need to prepare your business to do this effectively. Team discussions about new products and your eventual outreach to that vendor for education on the products are critical to your success.
Every now and then I talk with an ESC who tells me that they are going for cookie cutter or package systems. OK, I get it, efficiency and reliability for all out of a small variety of system designs. But dont you aspire to something more? Shouldnt your business be working on your business to get better at selling up and bringing new technology into your work so that your business evolves to becoming proficient at this?