Georgia Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association

Are Your Customers Winning?

Are your customers winning?                                                                                             
By Andre Greco
Xcelerate Sales. LLC

This is kind of an odd question, right? As business owners and salespeople, we are always thinking about winning and typically that means we are winning. Winning a big job or winning a project from a competitor are always reasons to celebrate. When I ran large sales organizations, I would routinely ask my team “are we winning?” to frame their mind around the fact that winning was important and winning was the key to them earning commissions and winning was the key to them growing their business. But, after many years, I started to look at winning a little bit differently and I am going to urge you to start looking at it differently as well. As professionals, we need to start focusing on how we help our customers win.

Are your customers winning when you have interactions with them? We can say “yes” they are winning because they have a great access control system that protects their entrances, IT room, and mechanical closets. We can say that they are winning because they got a first-class fire alarm inspection which keeps them in compliance with codes and makes sure that the fire alarm and emergency evacuation systems are working properly which ultimately protects their employees.

Alternatively, winning goes a little bit deeper than just providing the product. We have to win because we have helped a business grow or we have helped a customer solve a significant problem which is impacting their business. So, what do I mean when I say this? Customers ONLY buy from us for one of three reasons. The first reason is cost. They are looking to either reduce costs in their business or they are looking to increase their profitability in some way shape or form. The second reason a customer could buy is risk. Risk mitigation, whether that is a risk to people or risk to intellectual property or mitigating the risk of somebody entering a building and doing something that we would not want them to do. The last reason a customer would buy from us is compliance. Some form of local, state, or federal regulatory compliance mandate to which their business needs to conform. I think about power generation and NERC and FERC requirements driving strict guidelines around perimeter security, audit trails, mustering, and video surveillance.

So, when I asked the question “are our customers winning” I am looking at it from their perspective. We win if we get a PO, execute a good project, make some money, and have a happy customer. This is great for us. But, in today's day and age, with the customer buying processes being so much more complex and customers having so much more access to available information about our products, if our interaction with customers is solely based on our wontedness to win, we are going to lose more than we actually win. I urge you to start looking at your sales interactions differently and to start thinking about how we can help the customer win.

One, but not the only, of the ways we can help the customers win is to understand, in detail, what their business problems are. Forget the product demos and brochures, no one cares about the products we sell. When I say “find out what their business problems are” I am not inferring that access control not being on their front door is a business problem. I am saying that protecting access to their entrances is much deeper than that. It is about risk mitigation. It is about protecting employees. It is about the implications that would impact the business if something like this was to happen. For example, if an unwanted individual got into a business, because it was not protected with access control and video surveillance, and caused harm to a person or to property, this has significant implications to the business. It has financial implications. It has employee satisfaction implications. It can hurt the recruiting and hiring process for that organization. It can tarnish their image or their brand. It can make it difficult for them to grow because of the negative implications of the event. These are reasons why our customers buy.

As we consider winning, we certainly want to win because that is how we grow. However, approaching our markets with this kind of mindset and approach will only work a small percentage of the time. If you really want to close more deals, you need to make sure that the customers that you are talking to are winning and they are winning because a potential problem that could derail their business is being fixed because of the technology we are able to provide and install. Remember; Cost, Risk, or Compliance are the only reasons why people buy electronic security or fire alarm systems.