As competition among integrators heats up, it is more important than ever before to finesse your sales pitch. Pete Baker explains.
A good friend of mine and former managing director of Jamo US, Helge Fischer, would often say to his team: “Nobody standing in line is waiting to buy Jamo speakers from you today; so you need to give them a reason why they should.”
This is so true, and not just when talking about loudspeakers. It’s also true for most other CE products and for AV integration companies, too.
As an integrator, have you ever considered the following questions?
- What value do you offer your prospective clients?
- What is your elevator pitch?
- Are you credible? (If yes, says who?)
- How are you establishing credibility with new prospects?
- How do you communicate your value in presentations with potential new clients?
Let’s face it this market is not getting any easier: there is more competition popping up every day and margins are eroding in many areas. And other once profitable categories are diminishing or disappearing altogether.
That’s why it is more important than ever before to create value in your offering and develop ways to differentiate yourself from competitors, both online and down the street.
Below are a few simple steps that can help you through the process.
First and foremost, you need to figure out who you are and how you’re different from the competition.
Take out a pencil and paper and imagine that the next prospect you meet will ask you flat out: “Why should work I with you instead of your competitor? What’s in it for me?”
What would you say?
It seems like a hard question to answer but some pertinent information could be:
· “We are a well-established, reputable company that has been in business since the earth cooled (or maybe a little shorter).” This will provide some comfort in the fact that you will likely be around to service their system in the months and years ahead.
· Your experience. Examples of your previous work will give potential clients confidence that you know what you are doing. How many successful projects have you deployed? Did any of them require some unusual skills, expertise or creative genius?
- Are you licensed and insured? If you fall through the ceiling in their attic, whose insurance will cover this?
- Perhaps you offer a product or service that is valuable to the audience that isn’t available from your closest competitor?
- Do you offer the ability to remotely monitor the status of the system and reboot critical devices in the event of a lock-up or failure?
- Do you offer maintenance contracts?
- Do you have expertise in certain areas that competitors may not – networking, audio or video calibration, security and monitoring? Perhaps you also work in the commercial space and can help them with their business needs?
- Perhaps most importantly: Do you have confidence that you can deliver a system that will be easy to use? When I was an integrator, I discussed the user experience with every client I met and I would tell them: “No matter how complex or sophisticated you would like system to be, I guarantee that everyone in your family will be able to operate it with ease! I promise!” This commitment probably helped me to win more projects than anything else I did.
If any of these points hold true to your business, how are you communicating this to the audience in your meetings, in your showroom, on your website or in your marketing materials?
Does your tagline communicate this message? The tagline for my former integration company was ‘We make entertainment easy’. This was proudly printed on the back of our business cards and communicated in many other forms. It was simple yet effective.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
I love the old saying that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. In sales, it is very easy to fall into the trap of talking about features and what is important to us.
The reality is, in a sales engagement we must take the backseat and the prospective client should be front and centre. The conversation should be focused on benefits, like X, Y and Z.
- X is the eXperience your solution will deliver to their family and friends;
- Y is whY working with your company will ensure ultimate satisfaction for them; and,
- Z is the fact that they should have Zero questions in their mind that your company will provide them with the best solution, the best service and the best overall experience than any other competitor.
CREDIBILITY IS EARNED
Have you completed some nice projects in the past? Do you show off your work in any way?
In the past, I would tip my install crew if they came back with nice photos of the finished project (with permission from the home owner, of course) and a testimonial. I had these images and testimonials on my website and also printed, framed and hung on the walls of my showroom.
You can also produce a very nice, bound portfolio of your projects through Shutterfly or similar resources at a minimal investment.
I am often shocked at how few professional integrators capture professional photos of their work to promote their craftsmanship. Think of it in terms of a home builder, it would be inconceivable for a custom home builder to not have some project photos to establish credibility with a prospective new client.
Remember, as my mum always said: “You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one!”
The BIG Corp
Pete Baker is a dynamic global sales and marketing professional with over 25 years’ experience in the custom electronics industry. He began his career as an integrator and then joined RTI in 2002, where he worked for 12 years. He is now the president of The Baker International Group (BIG), a full-service sales and marketing representative and consulting firm.