There is a Better Way

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Five Critical Ideas For Improving Your Sales And Operations

If you have been in this business for a while and attended your share of conferences, often the content of these sorts of presentations is all-too familiar, or worse, not actually applicable to our industry. As someone who has been designing, installing, and selling commercial and residential AV for more than 25 years, I thought it might be of some value for me to share a few of the core sales and operating strategies that I have come to trust over the years.

1) STOP SELLING AND START FACILITATING
Your clients are predominantly people of wealth who arrive at your first meeting already knowing that they want the products

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Our clients don’t need to be “sold.” Instead, listen carefully, apply your expertise, and guide them to the best solution possible. and service your company provides. These people do not need to be “sold.” Instead, try to listen carefully, apply your expertise, and guide them to the best solution possible. This approach works well, because it places you in the role of trusted advisor rather than commissioned salesperson.

2) BE THE EXPERT
The builder does not ask your client what type of lumber they want to use to frame the house, nor is it likely that the electrical contractor is asking them to decide on the size of Romex to use inside the walls. So why are you still asking them what type of speakers they want? Instead, be the expert, gather the really important information regarding the clients’ lifestyle and personal preferences, and then present your well-considered solution

3) YOU ARE NOT THE BANK
Be clear that your client is the one with the money and that they need to be funding the project. This is especially true of very large projects where the traditional pre-wire, trim-out, and final stages of the project may be many months in duration, and separated by large gaps of time. One important payment milestone that you should be including in your contracts is called, “At Equipment Ordering.” This clearly indicates to the client that they need to give you the money up front to buy the equipment for their project. If they object to “having to pay for the equipment before they receive it,” then explain that you are not pulling their equipment from inventory, but buying it specifically for their project, and that your suppliers will need to be paid. You can further explain that the great majority of the equipment will be held for an extended period of time in your facility for rack mounting, programming, and testing, and that you need to purchase it now to meet their project schedule.

4) BE THE BRAND
I still see many companies featuring a specific product or brand in their advertising and marketing efforts, often because that manufacturer is contributing to the cost of the ad. You need

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to change your approach and start building awareness of your company name as the brand, instead. However, very few of the manufacturers in our industry can be considered anything close to a “household name,” because they concentrate their efforts on marketing to us, rather than our customers. You need to do the same thing and create the strongest “brand” possible—one that puts you and your company at the center of the message.

5) THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT
I believe that you should do everything possible to choose the best clients possible, but you must decline to do business with those who do not treat you and your firm with respect. People who are abusive, totally unreasonable, or less than honest in their dealings with you are not people you should put up with as clients. This is harder to do in tough economic times, but it is the right way to run your business. It demonstrates respect not only for yourself, but also for the people who work so hard for you every day.

Richard Millson (richard. millson@millson.net) is president of Vancouver-based Millson Multimedia.

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