When’s the last time you bought a car based on a description, a list of features, and maybe some pictures of different parts of the car? How about a house? Don’t you want to see the big-ticket item, check it out, maybe test it out? In our business, how can we expect our clients to invest $5,000-$100,000 or more in an AV or automation system with just a written proposal in front of them?
Yes, proposal packages like D-Tools and BidMagic do put small pictures into the proposal, but that’s like seeing a picture of the parts of a new car and not the whole car. And when you walk into a car dealership, you don’t get to walk around on your own, usually; a salesman approaches you almost immediately. Similarly, it is critical to spend time face to face with a client.
Don’t just shoot out an email with an attachment and hope for the best because the client will be getting that from the three or more integrators submitting bids. Stand out and meet them in person.
Over the past six months or so, we have started insisting on face-to-face meetings with clients to present our proposal. We have a 100-percent close rate when doing this. The few times we’ve sent the proposal out via email, we’ve never heard back. To take it one step further, we present the proposal in a showroom environment, so the client can see what they will be getting. When a client is experiencing something or is meeting with someone face-to-face, it is much easier to say “yes.” Why do you think real estate brokers meet with clients to get their reaction on homes and why they insist on being with the client during the walkthrough?
While it clearly isn’t always possible to show a client a fully functioning system, especially if you don’t have a showroom, there are options.
While it clearly isn’t always possible to show a client a fully functioning system, especially if you don’t have a showroom, there are options. I’ve written many times about turning my own home into a showroom, and it has helped seal many sales. As a Crestron dealer, I have access to their showroom in NYC and their headquarters in Rockleigh, NJ. Maybe you can use a distributor’s experience center, a nearby manufacturer, clients’ homes, perhaps providing them free support or upgrades for their hospitality.
Record videos of your systems in action so the client can see how easy they are to use. Keep these videos on your iPad so you can show them either during the initial consult, during follow-up discussions, or at the time of presenting the proposal if it can’t be done in a real-world working environment.
Be creative. There are solutions out there. But make it personal because this is a very personal decision and a very large investment for your client. Be sure to treat it as such.
+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.