True story. Last week I was talking with a sales leader for a system integration company at PSA TEC, a leadership event for solution providers in the physical security industry. With everything going on in the industry, I asked him one simple question – what do you want to accomplish this year with your team? The best part was the simplicity in his answer. He wants to grow his team by a few people and give each salesperson 10 hours back a week
This was in the back of the room in the middle of a panel on sales proposals – we probably needed to take the discussion outside – which we did. Next, I asked him “what would you expect that they do with that 10 hours a week”. The answer was simple again, “I would like them to meet with more prospects and customers and help them solve problems.”
The next question was, but “what’s taking that 10 hours of time now?” Again, simple answer, “the proposal process is super inefficient”. They are taking notes out on site surveys, taking pictures on cell phones, bringing it back to a team to do drawings and essentially drawing out a process back and forth for proposals that is taking hours and hours of time. We’ve also lost a deal or two by not getting it to the prospect fast enough.”
For anyone running sales teams, this is an anchor, not a good one. It holds you back. But, it is not just the time inefficiency that will get you. It’s that the customer needs an accurate proposal in a reasonable time and they may be sizing you up against another bid. Moreover, it’s possible that you’re not being perceived as particularly professional or modern in your approach. Value comes with providing guidance and consultative selling. That’s hard to do this way and a major drain.
After 10 years in the industry and talking to hundreds of sales leaders and salespeople at companies of all sizes, the tune is still the same for many. But, there are answers here. And, more and more have learned that there is a better way. I just happened to know how to ask these questions. I can’t promise they will make the changes but there are 5 ways to make a paradigm shift that will uplevel your sales team for good. And, best part, it is easier than you think. Just crawl, walk and then run. There is no going back.
1. Reset Expectations on what Makes a Good Site Survey (or Virtual Site Survey)
First up is resetting clients’ expectations about the site survey process. This is the most critical piece of the journey – the requirements gathering. It is often under-invested with a profound domino effect of negative consequences to sales.
It’s time to get away from the paper floor plan and yellow pad. Carrying in a digital tablet with their floor plan to a site survey is an immediate attention getter for your client. But, don’t be the only one to see it. Ask them for a bit more time for the site survey and show as you go. Example: “When I come out on site, I’m going to bring a digital view of your floor plan on a tablet. I’d like to walk some of the site with you to get your inputs on the design. Does that sound like a good idea?”
If they can’t make the first meeting in person, guess what – you can get on a Zoom or Teams meeting and share their floor plan digitally. In fact, some of the most successful sales leaders are doing this as a matter of course for the first meeting. This is a major step to determining if they are qualified enough for a full site survey. Game changer!
When you go on site, bring System Surveyor with you on a tablet such as the iPad and drag and drop some of the cameras or door access systems that they need. “Is this what you were looking for?” “Can I take a picture?” “Where do you want the camera coverage?” They are observing you capturing this information digitally, efficiently, effectively.
What do you think they take away from this using a site survey tool? The answer is professionalism, confidence and accuracy.
By the way, you’ve just saved about 1-2+ hours per client in time back at the office to gather all of the information to pass to the other team. With collaborative system design software, you just hit sync and send it to your team or revise when back at the office. This alone often pays for the software, let alone that you are already a front runner for the job.
If you play your cards right, you’ll stealthily start redefining in the client’s mind what a good site survey looks like. When your competitor shows up with a yellow pad of paper and a smartphone camera, suddenly that old approach isn’t going to look so good. They’ve lost the deal before they started (don’t let this be you).
2. Tighten up Capturing Requirements
Next, consider your capturing requirements and security assessment. What do you make non-negotiable in the data-gathering stage? Perhaps it’s time to tighten up those requirements.
Of course, your client may take some convincing here. They didn’t have to do the upfront work you’re asking for last time, and you’ll need to help them see why they should this time. Your (and your client’s) goal is to design and implement a physical security system that actually protects against physical security risks, with no gaps in coverage or holes in access control. The fewer revisions, the better.
Add to that, your client also wants an accurate design and estimate. Most clients aren’t used to getting any of these things, though — and they may not realize what’s possible when using modern collaboration software.
So, what should tightening up your capturing requirements look like? For starters, you need a digital floor plan or blueprint of the space where you’re going to install the corporate or school security system.
When you have an accurate, to-scale digital floor plan:
- You can build an accurate security system model directly in our security camera design software.
- You can drag and drop physical security measures into place, such as video surveillance, access control, detection systems and electronic security systems, even during the site survey.
- Your client can see changes to the physical security system design in real time.
- You can have discussions about camera angles, areas of coverage, and blind spots using to-scale visuals showing what actual cameras could (and couldn’t) cover in actual spaces.
The results? A truly accurate estimate and proposal, for one. And often, an earlier and more enthusiastic commitment from the client. No one likes surprises later so you’ll be a hero to them in the long run.
3. Better Engage Your Manufacturing Partners for Design Help
Another hot topic at PSA TEC was how System Integrators and Manufacturers could collaborate more effectively to solve for customers.
Here’s another unexpected way to boost sales velocity: enlist the help of your manufacturing partners more effectively than your competition. There is a difference between channel conflict and channel collaboration. It is impossible to be an expert on all of the new technologies coming to the market in video surveillance, access control, sensors, intrusion detection, AI and analytics and so much more. You get to be the expert on your customers, a good manufacturer is expert on their products. Find a way to marry these and you’ll increase both sales velocity and value (read better margins).
As the technology landscape continues to shift, with more AI-powered security hardware and software hitting the market and new innovations in smart security systems, it’s tough if not impossible for system integrators to stay on the bleeding edge of every development. But your manufacturing partners are.
So, leverage those relationships: tell manufacturing partners that you want to sell more of their stuff, but you need their help in properly designing systems that incorporate the tech.
To paint a picture, with a security system design platform like System Surveyor, it is more than a system design tool. While it is easy to use like any good tool, the power is in the ability to invite other collaborators to the platform. Bring in your manufacturer field sales engineer into the design (literally) without emailing PDFs. It will be more real-time and dynamic. You’ll bring the most accurate, well thought out proposals to your customers. We already see this collaboration happening and growing. It’s time to embrace it before your competitors do.
System Surveyor is manufacturer-agnostic, meaning you can design for hardware or software from any vendor or partner and interrelated systems for your customer. We already have Element Profiles for many leading physical security manufacturer catalogs, and you can create new profiles for any device not already available within System Surveyor. Drag, drop and automate a bill of materials.
4. Increase Professionalism & Make Your New Talent Productive Faster
You’ve heard the expression, “use the right tool for the job”. In physical security system design, using the right tool can mean the difference between greater profit margins and profit loss.
Security professionals who use System Surveyor can do more, be more responsive, and show clients a level of detail that others can’t match. It’s a massive boost to your company’s professionalism.
Better tech tools deliver another boost to sales velocity: they make your new talent more productive, more quickly.
There’s a lot to learn in physical security. Veteran system integrators may know the specs and capabilities of a huge number of devices off the top of their heads, but that’s knowledge learned over many years or decades on the job. It’s nearly impossible for new talent to operate at the same level and it is not scalable.
System Surveyor doesn’t exactly level the playing field — your veterans are still going to be better than the newbies, in most cases. But it does massively increase time to productivity among your talent, new and existing alike.
Let technology keep up with products and technical information more dynamically (than you can do in your head) and then apply your expertise using the technology with intelligent, almost wizard driven questions to get to the right solutions. When used effectively, technology can condense years’ worth of experiential knowledge that is available at the fingertips of your team.
This will increase the velocity of onboarding new talent. You can’t teach the new team members with legacy tools.
5. Build Relationships that Last Past the Sale – It’s About the Life Cycle of the System and the Customer
Last, increasing sales velocity and value in the physical security sales cycle requires building stronger, longer-lasting relationships.
As it turns out, when I speak with the sales leaders, most of them are not looking for transactional sales nor do they want to be perceived as a commodity. They are seeking long-term relationships and moreover recurring services opportunities.
Imagine that the same system design platform that you used to sell more value and at greater speed/efficiency, has value after the initial sales. You’ve actually taken things a step further. You’ve created a digital as-built or system-of-record.
Make no mistake, end uses are hungry to collaborate with this information along with their System Integrator or Solution Provider. In fact, many of our customers now sell with System Surveyor and then use it operationally for installation and ongoing maintenance. Get ready now….this may seem a bit edgy but they actually invite their customer to the digital as-built to collaborate on an ongoing basis.
Again, let me paint a picture. What if your customer could request more cameras or move, add or change with you through the platform? How engaged are you now? Who is their favorite solution provider? You can become part of their physical security team and help them budget for the next project. That’s called managing the system and customer life cycle It is a living, breathing thing or it is out of date the minute you install it It is not always a fit to collaborate in this manner, but as you level up your value, you’ll need a way to communicate and collaborate for that next building they need your help on. The System Surveyor community of users are innovating in this way and sharing their success stories and opportunities with each other. When you can meet customers’ needs for a physical protection system faster, clearer, and more accurately than the rest, you cement your status as an authority and guide.
When clients are thrilled with the results of your security integration work, when they remember the specific ways that you helped them sidestep a problem or foresee a gap in their safety systems — these are the relationship-builders that change your value and keep customers coming back.
System Surveyor: Reclaim as much as 10 hours Per Week with the Security Design Platform that Increases Sales Velocity and Value
So just how much productivity are we talking about? Consider how much manual work just vanishes, and how System Surveyor reduces rework due to inaccurate estimates or missing elements on installs. Many system integrators find that team members reclaim 35% of their time which at a minimum is around around 7-10 hours a week in manual work, rework, and eliminate back-and-forth communication. Perhaps even more important is that they increase their sales close rate by 20%. We’ve just shown you five best practices for increasing sales velocity and growing value as a system integrator. At the center of each of these strategies is a better way of working: System Surveyor’s collaborative physical security system design platform.
System Surveyor delivers better visibility, higher accuracy, a whole new world of collaboration potential, and more. It’s a value-creating tool that empowers system integrators to serve clients’ security requirements in powerful new ways, giving you a powerful edge over the competition.
Ready to increase sales velocity and value? Request a System Surveyor demo now.