As a security integrator, you have an enormous responsibility to ethically work with your customers to deliver the best security solution available for each of their unique, security-based challenges. Of course, there is a sales process involved; however, most people don’t want to actually “be sold.” Customers seek a strong relationship built on trust and once that is established, only then will they listen as you educate and influence them toward a custom solution to solve their problems.

Here are some practices that you should consider incorporating into your business to build better relationships with your customers at all stages of negotiations.

Before the Sale

It’s always all about the customer, but at this point, seriously, it’s literally all about the customer. Now is not the time to deliver your sales pitch to try and sell anything. Here are 4 best practices that you can use to make it all about the customer:

  1. Really listen to the customer. When customers seek your help, take the time to genuinely listen to gather all details of the customer’s security situation. Afterwards, repeat the issue back to the customer in your own words using empathy. This demonstrates that you were actively listening and lets the customer know that what they are saying is important to you, the solution-producing security integrator.
  1. Communicate on a level that the customer understands. Refrain from using too much technical jargon to make sure you never talk down to a customer. Customers are becoming more and more educated about security and security solutions thanks to competent and savvy integrators who are willing to take the time to ensure understanding. Though customers may understand how systems operate, they may not know the technical terms that are used.
  1. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Simply put; don’t lie, not even a little bit. Customers, who are thinking about spending large sums of money, are very keen on spotting things that integrators say that just don’t add up.
  1. Have courage to make suggestions and/or refer. Have the courage to explain to a customer that what they are asking for in terms of a security solution is impossible or won’t work for their particular situation. When you must do this, always have at least one workable solution to offer.

Also, to dub yourself as an ethical integrator, you must be able to refer your potential customer to another integrator if you are unable to assist. Build an alliance with several integrators in which the group makes referrals to each other in times such as these.

 

During the Sale

Now it’s time to provide solutions that solve the customer’s security needs. It’s time to make the sale. The following 4 best practices demonstrate how you can sell the necessary security items to the customer without turning them off and killing the sale:

  1. Take time to explain the strengths and weaknesses of the product suggestions. As an integrator, you stand by the security products that you have incorporated into your business; but, at the end of the day, these products are mechanical objects with the possibility that something will malfunction or not work as planned. Educate the customer about each piece of equipment as to what it will do and what it has had trouble with in past uses.
  1. Give itemized quotes. Empower your customer to recognize that the best security solution was decided upon by giving the customer a clearly detailed, itemized quote outlining exactly what he is buying. Highlight the total cost of the complete security solution, so customers know, bottom line, what they are paying for and to show that you were able to stay within their budget.
  1. Be realistic with the customer. The reality is that every security solution has an end-of-life, so communicate this to the customer. Make an educated guess as to the expected life of their system, highlighting ongoing maintenance needs and the expected cost to upgrade their system in the future.
  1. Do not sell just to make a sale. Selling without a purpose is just robbing people of their money. Yes, the goal is to always make a sale, but if you don’t offer a workable solution that will solve customer issues, your credibility and reputation will more than likely falter.

 

After the sale

Your goal should be to strive to keep your customer satisfied to ultimately be called on again for other security projects and to receive referrals from satisfied customers. To ensure this type of success, the following 3 best practices will serve as a guide for your business:

  1. Keep the communication open. When established customers contact you, be as quick to return calls and emails just as before the sale. To enhance the customer’s experience even further, call customers periodically just to check in and see how things are going.
  2. Provide superior system maintenance. The reality is that if the security solution is solving the customer’s security issues, all is well; however, it takes just one minor system malfunction to create an unsatisfied customer. The good news is: It’s all in the way the integrator handles the situation.

Always take full responsibility for whatever problems the client is experiencing. During what a customer perceives as a crisis situation, never blame the manufacturer or any other party for the issues at hand. The customer wants to know that you understand and will do whatever it takes to make their system function as promised.

If the system requires maintenance, inform the customer of the repair cost before they are performed. And, be sure to honor all warranties even if the customer didn’t know about them.

  1. Continually educate. Dedicate time each month to keep customers in the know as to what’s going on in the security industry. This can be as simple as sending out a monthly e-newsletter with industry news, tips to enhance facility security, new product offerings, etc. On a more personal level, keep detailed notes about each customer and inform them of system upgrades or enhancements before they are needed. It literally takes 2 minutes out of your busy day to “wow” your customers.

For a huge impact as a competent integrator, always handle the small details no matter how minor they may seem, while making everything about the customer.